But what shall I pack?

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luggage stuffingThe event is still about three and a half months away, but I decided that this year, I’m going to go to another big tech comm conference. I really feel that going to a professional conference truly benefits me, because I learn SO much from people who have more experience and know-how than I do. Just attending the Adobe Day at Lavacon last fall boosted my IQ enormously, and I have to credit information that I learned there in helping me get the content strategy/web publishing job that I have now. All the forward-looking thinkers attend these sort of events, and I don’t want to miss out.

I’m going to a really big one this time too. I’m going to my first STC (Society of Technical Communication) Summit. I’ve been a member of the STC for the past year, and just re-upped my membership for a second year. It’s not a cheap membership, especially for someone who’s just getting started. I started at the affordable student rate when I was still a student, and fortunately I can still take advantage of their “new professional rate” being that I’m still rather new out of school. It’s been worth it, as I’ve met several people who are members, and I think there needs to be some sort of organization that helps to bind the profession together and provide resources for all tech comm professionals, both new and experienced. This year’s Summit is in Atlanta, Georgia. I haven’t been to Atlanta for slightly more than twenty years, and again, it was for computer training, I think. Atlanta has changed a bit since that time, so it should be interesting to see it now.

I’m looking forward to not only going to the various talks and events from the STC Summit, but I’m also looking forward to seeing people I know from online and those whom I met at Adobe Day at Lavacon, but also meeting new people. Conferences are a great way to connect with people who have similar professional experiences as you do, and that you can share information in person. Ha, I was just thinking this is almost like the biggest gathering of “Technical Communicators Anonymous” addicts! But seriously, It’s an incredible opportunity to meet with the movers and shakers in the tech comm world, as well as meet those rising stars and foot soldiers who brave through content every day like you do. It’s a great time when the academic side of tech comm meets the corporate side of tech comm. So, just from a social networking perspective, it’s going to be big.

I also heard from a little bird that there might even be another Adobe Day event especially for the STC Summit, but that hasn’t been confirmed. And if there is, you know that I’ll be there to check that out. I loved my Adobe pre-conference experience from Lavacon a lot, as you know, so I can’t even imagine how great this one could be….If there is another one, you can be sure that I’ll be passing the word along and letting all of y’all know. (Yes, practicing my Southern accent in writing already. ;-))

I think the difference, this time, will also be that I am truly a tech comm professional now. Yes, I’ve been talking the talk for a long time, blogging, doing the social media thing, doing some odd jobs here and there, but only in the past month have I gotten a real tech comm job working on content management. I will not be an unemployed wannabe this time around. For the STC Summit, I will be a fully-fledged technical communicator.

And for these reasons, I can’t wait to go! I know I’ll be packing my iPad and iPhone…but what else will I need (other than clothes, of course)? STC Summit alumni–let me know! Let me know if you’ll be going too!

About TechCommGeekMom

Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who has recently started her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog, TechCommGeekMom.com, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/daniellemvillegas, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog.
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2 Responses to But what shall I pack?

  1. Hi Danielle
    I know you’ll enjoy the Summit, and Atlanta is a great city too.

    My best advise for a first Summit conference is:
    – when you get your program go through it for sessions that you’d be interested in and highlight these then sit down with your manager and get his/her input as well. The Summit is an ideal learning opportunity for you and a great way for your employer to get up-to-date knowledge (via you) for the future. If they’re thinking of new tools or technologies the Summit is a great venue for getting information first hand, from the sessions, the vendors and other professionals you’ll meet,
    – which helps if you want to get your company to pay some or all of the cost! Watch out for articles in Intercom or News & Notes for additional advice on selling that concept to your employer.
    – take business cards – lots of them. You’ll need them for fun things like vendor prize drawers as well as to hand to all the new people you’ll meet,
    – go with an open mind, talk and listen to people. You’ll meet fellow professionals a variety of countries, companies and backgrounds. If you need advice or guidance now or in the future this is where you start building your network.
    – go to some of the more social functions, particulary Sunday evening. If you’re a SIG member attend their lunch. If not, visit the SIG stands and see if there are any relevant to you – both now and for the future,
    – be flexible; be prepared to change session if there are any last minute changes,
    – attend Nathaniel Lim’s “First Time Attendee” session (this is a must for first timers!),
    – sleep when you can,
    – have fun!

    Hope all this gives you something to work with. Let me know if I can help more.
    Mark Clifford

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the advice! This all makes a lot of sense. As a consultant, my manager isn’t paying for this (it’s on my own), so I’ll have to determine what best suits my professional needs. I know there are so many offerings, it’ll be difficult to choose! I’m glad you reminded me to bring business cards. I’ll have to create some for myself, since again, as a consultant, the company I’m working for wouldn’t get those for me. I’ll just have to create my own TechCommGeekMom ones, which shouldn’t be a problem. And I appreciate the recommendation of Nathaniel Lim’s “First Time Attendee” session! So much to see and do. I’m getting excited already!

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