Musings and learning about technical communications issues from your TechCommGeekMom–a geeky mom who is into tech comm…since 2012.
Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as 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. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/daniellemvillegas, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog.
All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.
The big topic right now in the content world is the emergence of Chat GPT and other AI tools. Chat GPT has the head start as it’s an open source project. Today, after much resistance of checking into it, I happened to have watched a demonstration of the tool, and it was compelling. So, I’ve gotten my copy of Chat GPT, and entered the chat, “Explain why technical writers are superior to Chat GPT.”
This was the response:
As an AI language model, I can provide quick, accurate, and informative answers to a wide range of questions, but there are certain areas where technical writers have advantages over AI models like me.
Contextual Understanding: Technical writers have a deep understanding of their industry and domain, which enables them to provide context to complex technical information and explain it in a way that is easy to understand.
Personal Touch: Technical writers bring their own unique voice and perspective to the content they create, making it more engaging and human.
Collaboration: Technical writers work closely with subject matter experts and other stakeholders to ensure that the content they produce is accurate and up-to-date. They also have the ability to incorporate feedback and make revisions to their work.
Adaptability: Technical writers are able to adapt to changes in technology and industry standards, ensuring that their content remains relevant and current.
Ethical considerations: Technical writers are aware of ethical considerations such as ensuring accuracy and avoiding plagiarism, which are important for maintaining credibility and trust with the audience.
While AI models like me can provide quick and accurate answers, technical writers bring a level of expertise and personal touch that is often important for creating effective technical content.
Hey, Chat GPT. I don’t think I could have said it better myself. 😉
For exactly the reasons that Chat GPT provided, I don’t think technical writers and communicators will be out of a job just yet. Even when I thought about it, it’ll be tricky putting this in several places. While the education field is already getting nervous about the implications for students to write original research papers or essays, I’m thinking about my own job. I work on a form of internal communications, and the specific policies and procedures would only apply to the company, and would not necessarily be public information, so it wouldn’t necessarily know what to write for certain knowledge articles. I’m sure there are other exceptions, but you get the idea.
What do you think of Chat GPT or other AI creation tools? Comment below.
I’m in a position that I haven’t really been in before–or at least not for a long time. While my private life is always in flux and stressful, my professional life is generally in good shape for the moment. Even typing that makes me a little superstitious that I’ve now ruined my good luck. But at the same time, I’ve worked hard to get to this point, so I shouldn’t feel guilty. So why do I, at least a little?
Let me back up a little here…this is my reaction to things going on around me at the moment. At this time, there are a lot of companies that are having huge layoffs. ‘Tis the season, unfortunately. The end of the year–especially when many contracts would normally either come to a close or be renewed are not being renewed. We’re seeing huge layoffs at some of the biggest tech companies like Twitter (well, that’s an entirely different story as to why), Meta (aka Facebook), Amazon, Lyft, Salesforce, Microsoft, and the list goes on. Even my company has had some workforce reductions, in that at least speaking for my department, some contractors will not be back after the new year, and there some rearranging going on. Because I’m an employee, I didn’t make the cut–at least not this round.
I say “not this round” because I’ve learned over the decades that there is no such thing as “safe” in the work industry anymore. Generation X was the first generation that understood and experienced that you couldn’t join a company for life and get the mentorship to build a career. We’ve always been on our own, so I learned the hard way very early. Even so, I’ve known people who’ve either been at their company for long periods of time. My husband is one of those lucky souls that’s been at his company for about 20 years now. I know a few others. I believe that my true record for being anywhere is either 37 months, or 7 years–depending on how you view it. The 37-month long job was a permanent position which I left to join a dot-com in the late 1990s. The 7 year one was one which I was a contractor for 2 1/2 years, had a three month break, but then worked part-time (very part-time) as a side gig for another 4 1/2 years. I usually count the former as my true longest gig.
Other than that one long contracting position that was more off than on, I’ve never been in one place long enough in this century to break that 37-month record. I’m hoping I’m on a path to do that, but I don’t hold my breath. I’ve been in my current position for 25 months, of which I’ve been a permanent employee for the past 9 months. I like where I am, and while I’m anxious about what the new year will bring with all the changes, there’s a part of me that’s conflicted about still being where I am, but it’s not what you think.
I don’t have any feeling that I want to leave anytime soon. However, I do have PTSD about layoffs. I’ve seen it too many times. Contractors always are the first to go. But then there’s usually another round that comes to take away the rest. It follows the old saying of “waiting for the other shoe to drop”. The contractors are the first shoe–would I be part of a group that would be the other shoe that has yet to drop? In my head, I don’t think I would be because of the work that my manager and I do–we are relatively critical for ongoing maintenance of the big projects we’ve done in the past two years going forward. That said, I also know that technical communicators are usually underappreciated because so many in leadership don’t understand our value. Many people think they can write, but those in technical writing know better. Even so, I think I’ve asked my manager many times in the last month since finding out that the contractors were not getting their contracts renewed after the new year if we were next. The PTSD kicked in something fierce.
Once I’d been strongly assured that I was “safe” and there was evidence that yes, I have security in the near future and don’t have to start looking for work, naturally I relaxed. But there’s a part of me that said I shouldn’t be so relaxed and feel almost unaffected. My co-workers and friends are being laid off in droves. Some of them are much more experienced than me, and yet, they are out there looking for work. I’ve done my best to try to share job listings when I see them, but it’s now getting to be too much. I want to be a good friend and good person to network with, but part of me almost feels TOO relaxed that it wasn’t my turn for a change. I feel emotionally neutral due to my version of survivor’s guilt. It’s usually me impacted, and for once, it’s not. One part of my brain is telling me that I should not feel guilty, because it’s just business and that I’ve worked hard to put myself in this position of safety. I should enjoy the fact that I’m not stressed out because of my job. Very busy, yes, but not stressed. I know the next month is going to be full of transition learning, transition of my responsibilities, and just getting a lot of normal, high-volume, end-of-the-year work that needs to be done, but I have the support of my manager and the company behind me for a change. I should feel good about this! (And I do!)
But then another part of my brain tells me that’s not being completely cool. I’ve been in the same position as all those people who’ve been laid off WAY too many times myself. I understand the stress, the anxiety, the depression, and the uncertainty that comes with being laid off, even if you know ahead of time. So many of those who were laid off in these past months didn’t deserve to have their livelihood taken away from them, and shouldn’t feel like less when it wasn’t a reflection of their actual work. There are certain habits that I haven’t broken since I was a contractor because of those things, like working a lot (if you don’t work, you don’t get paid), and saving as much as I can in the bank, not spending a lot on big trips or big ticket items, because you don’t know if you might need that money to pay bills and feed your family. I’ve shed the tears, been hysterical, felt lower than low about myself and my predicament more times that I’d like to count. (Hence, the PTSD about layoffs.) So, I should be supportive and try to help when I can– and I do my best.
So, it just feels weird to be in this position–hence, the “survivor’s guilt”. So many are impacted right now, when the world is barely getting its footing back after the pandemic and inflation is higher than it’s been in a very long time, and your paycheck doesn’t stretch as far as it used to…I get it. For the moment, I’m not as impacted as so many technical communicators right now. I do count my blessings, but don’t you think for one moment that I think that I’m smug about not being laid off, or that I don’t care. I do. But for the moment, I’m willing to feel okay about it.
At the same time, for those who haven’t been in this position before, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Remember to file for unemployment insurance. Unless you’ve been a freelancer the entire time, you’ve probably paid into that fund even as a contractor for some agency. You may have a lot saved up or not much, but either way, it’s YOUR money–that’s why it’s called unemployment insurance. It doesn’t last forever, but it might help you pay some bills and hold you over a little bit while you look.
Don’t stop looking–even during the holidays. My observation over the years is that there are two main recruiting times during the year, namely November through January (for calendar budget years) and between May and July (for fiscal calendar years). So, even with vacations and holidays when hiring managers may not always be available, don’t give up! Keep pursuing and looking because while jobs will still become available during other months, those seem to be the biggest rush months for work.
That said, do take time for yourself during holidays. Getting laid off around the holidays is the worst! You’ve already got all the usual holiday stresses, and now you have work/money stress to add on top of that! Even so, cut yourself a break. Take some time to catch your breath, regroup, and enjoy the holidays as best as you can under the circumstances. A new year is ahead, and it’s an opportunity for a new start! (And new starts can begin anytime.) It’s a chance to reassess your personal as well as professional circumstance, and decide how you want to move forward? Do you want a more challenging job or a less challenging job? Are you willing to move? Do you want to work remotely or an office? Do you want to change fields? Are you taking care of yourself and your family, and how does work support that? Now’s the time to do that.
On the job hunt, there are several things to keep in mind as well:
Make sure you update your resume and LinkedIn profile and take the opportunity to ensure that it’s cleaned up, grammatically correct, and laid out well structurally. A misspelling for someone applying for a tech editor position, for example, would be an automatic “no”. First impressions count. There are plenty of template resources out on the web that can help you with that if it’s been a while. LinkedIn is a HUGE resource for recruiters, and having an incomplete profile does not do you any favors. It should mimic your resume at a minimum.
Send out as many applications/resumes as you can. As my husband would remind me all the time, you have more chance of catching a fish if you have multiple fishing lines out on the water–even if you only need one fish. I’ve been through situations with other economic downturns where a single position that used to get 10 applicants now gets 100 or 1000 applicants. As a result that’s no fault of your own, you get ghosted or never hear anything back about a position. So, the more of them you send out, it increases your chances of getting a response.
If you see something that you think you might be able to do, but you don’t have experience in “X” (something requested in the job description), apply for it anyway–even if it’s a few things that are missing. There was a study that was done that showed that women in particular were guilty of that–not applying for a position because the job description had a few things required, and the applicant didn’t have 100% of the requirements. Men will more often apply even if they don’t have everything. But I also know men who have that same mentality–if I don’t have all of it, I can’t apply. Not true. I didn’t have any experience in InDesign, Service Now, or how to navigate in Workday, and I was taught all of it in the past two years, and then more. I had the foundational skills that allowed me to learn these quickly, and that’s part of the reason that I got my job. I was able to adapt, and my resume showed that I had the foundational skills to learn and adapt. So take a shot–you don’t know where it might lead you. You can always say no if you get a job offer if you don’t think it’s a good fit. But you have to apply to get to that point first.
Keep a spreadsheet–Excel or Google Sheets is fine–to track your search. It doesn’t have to be much, but I usually include the position title, the company (or the client company and the recruiting company), the name of the contact or recruiter with their phone number and email info, the date of contact, the date I forwarded my info, and a field or two where I track the dates of each step going forward. There are times I’ve sent so many applications out that I’ve lost track of where I’ve applied, who I’ve talked to, where I am in the process, etc. This will help keep you on track.
Take advantage of your network. For me, it’s always been about my tech comm social media network and my STC network–especially my STC network. Making those connections with other professionals in your field and supporting organizations can make a big difference. They can provide leads, or even advice as you do your job search. Again, with my current job, when I initially applied for it as a contractor, it was the only job I had been offered as a contractor that preferred STC membership. When I asked my manager during my interview why she was looking for that, she said that she felt that those in STC cared about their careers and were the ones that more often went for continuing education to stay on top of the profession. Well, as active as I am in STC, I had that (and still have that) in spades! I also worked my network at the time as I had an STC connection who had gone to my same grad program and used to be in my chapter (she moved) who was in the same company, and I could ask her about her experiences, what kinds of questions they often ask about during interviews, etc. I was able to reciprocate the favor recently when she was looking for a new position, and I could forward her the job openings at my company! That’s how it works. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but people are always willing to help, so take advantage of that!
Take the opportunity to learn something new. Whenever I had a gap in employment, I’ve always used that time to invest in myself. What is a skill I could improve? What’s a software program that is being requested more often that I don’t know? What’s something that I’d like to learn because I’m interested? There are so many educational opportunities and choices! I started my master’s degree because I was unemployed, and I was switching professions (or at least making a course correction), and with appropriate paperwork, etc. I was able to get the state unemployment department to pay for my first three courses of my degree. A bit of savings there! There are also so many other resources out there–STC has a great educational program that I’ve benefitted from, LinkedIn has courses (I took several when it was still Lynda.com), and there’s something to fit any budget. Understanding a skill that you may not have used yet will still get you a little bit ahead of not knowing anything about a skill. For example, you don’t know about structured authoring? Plenty of free resources to teach you.
If you are in tech comm, create an online presence. Even if you worked on proprietary stuff, use some items and change it up with fake names and processes that will help you display your aptitude. Create an online portfolio with different examples of the kinds of writing or other skills (like graphic arts, UX design, HTML programming, etc.) that you can show. Another way is to participate in social media forums or heck, write a blog on topics! This very blog was started for that reason–to show prospective employers what I know in a more conversational way. This blog is now 10 years old, so I think it’s been doing a good job for me, even if I don’t write as often as I used to.
Do contract work or part-time gigs, as you don’t know where they might lead for the better. One of the things that brings me relief that I’m not currently part of any layoffs is that until I got this current position I’m in, I had not worked a full-time, permanent employee position since the year 2000. Seriously. It’s been 22 years since I worked full-time as an employee, and I don’t mean as a full-time employee of some contracting agency. That’s been a big adjustment. Granted, some of those years were years off to be a stay-at-home mom, but those that weren’t–all contracting jobs. So if you are used to having full-time permanent employment, don’t diss contract work. It might be the difference between having a paycheck or no paycheck. Money is money, right? That said, that also goes for part-time employment. I’ve been in part-time positions, or even juggled two or three at a time so that I had a relatively steady income for a while. All my contracts and part-time gigs gave me an opportunity to learn something new that I could put on my resume, or advance my skills even more. It got me to where I am now, so do what you need to do to be employed. Sometimes even taking a slight pay cut might reap rewards later. There are opportunities where contracts can be converted to full-time permanent employee, or you’ve at least gained an opportunity to apply at a client for a full-time permanent position, but it’s because you put the work in first. It’s not an automatic thing. I’ve had at least two occasions when I was told that they were going to convert me, and then it didn’t happen (would get laid off instead). My current position is the first time it converted, but I still had to go through the same process as if I came off the street. It was not automatic or a shoo-in. But, I’m sure I had an advantage of already knowing the work.
Don’t give up. Give yourself a break, but don’t give up. Looking for work is an unpaid full-time job in itself, and it can be really, REALLY frustrating when there is a lot of competition out there. Just continue to work every angle you can, do as many searches through as many contacts as you can, and go back to that first bullet above of advice. The more lines you put out, the more opportunities that someone will “bite” and you’ll get that interview and job. But it can take time–which can be excruciating at times. Just don’t give up until the job is done.
Everyone is worthy of having the ability to contribute to society through a variety of means, and make a living from it. Intellectually, most of us know that when we are laid off, it’s a business decision and not a reflection of our body of work or work ethic, even if it feels very strongly that it’s personal. It will feel personal for a long while–I won’t lie to you about that. But having been in the situation too many times, and falling into the same emotional trap, these are the steps I take to ensure that I can be at my best when that next opportunity does come around.
What are your thoughts and experiences about layoffs in tech comm? Share your experience in the comments.
If you are on social media–specifically Facebook, you know that Facebook will show you “memories” from past posts on a given day. Recently, it’s been showing me posts and photos from what I think was very much a breakthrough day in the start of my career–spending 36 hours in Portland, OR at LavaCon 2012. I had done a webinar in about four months prior for Adobe, as someone who used to be in their marketing team discovered me, and had me participate in their webinar series at the time. But it was Adobe’s invitation to “cover” Adobe Day the day before the big start of LavaCon for this blog that was my first real introduction into the tech comm universe–I guess you can say my “debut to” tech comm society (like a debutante of sorts). There, I met many people that I had only known through social media, and remain friends with them to this day. Seven months or so from this writing will mark the 10th anniversary of the first STC Summit that I attended in Atlanta (which ironically will be in Atlanta again this year), and met a whole bunch more people similarly.
What’s hanging on in my mind is the journey I’ve had to take from that point at LavaCon 2012 to now…how many job changes I’ve had, how many dry spells of unemployment I’ve had, how many jobs that were good or bad, my adventures with STC and other tech comm outlets, and finally, all the people. I mean, some people that I met at LavaCon in that very short spell there are still friends who I rely on, and who I consider mentors. Same with those I met at my first Summit. Some of them gave me exposure and breaks to help me find jobs along the way and foster my writing. Sometimes, I’ve learned things that were not tech comm related that have either been set by example or were a good life skill. I think the point is that–WOW! Over the last 10 years, I’ve met SO many people in the tech comm field that have supported me along the rough road I’ve had to take along the way to get to where I am now, who didn’t give up on me when I had given up on myself. Hence, to get to where I am now, it’s been “a climb”.
These days, I’m in a good place professionally. For the moment, I like being a full-time employee, which I really haven’t been for more than 22 years (since before my son was born). I’m fortunate in that I get to work remotely, as this has always been important so I could be flexible and available for my family. I get to flex my tech comm muscles, and I feel like I do my job well, and have gained the trust of those I work with. I reflect on both the good contracts and not-so-good contracts I had, and how they’ve all helped me focus on what I do best, learn skills along the way, and figure out what I really want from my career. I’ve also advanced to being elected as a board director for the STC with some hard work, a lot of support, and some luck thrown in there, too. All the tech comm friends I’ve had along the way have supported me both professionally and with my STC endeavors, and that’s been a big help.
The one area that is suffering right now, however, is my sanity as a parent. I’ve written often about my son over the years. You would think that as a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome who’s had so much support over many years, he’d be in a good spot. However, we’ve hit a big snag. He’s SO close to being done with his degree, but his program requires working at FOUR internships (basically, working for about 18 months as an apprentice) during his participation in the program. He’s made two attempts at working, and he never gets past working a full week. For him, working three eight-hour days plus two days of classes is just too much. He’s also putting a lot of pressure on himself because he feels he needs to be “perfect” or at least better than any other newbies there so that he can stand out, but he can’t keep up with the pace. He’s spent more time in a dealership bathroom crying than I think most people ever have! He’s just not ready for that. So far, the director of the program is allowing him to continue to take classes, but he’s not so flexible with this internship thing. He’s also not helpful, as it’s obvious that my son needs to be in an environment where accuracy of the work supersedes speed, which is not the environment of your average car dealership. The program director insists that the students need to find jobs on their own–which my son has done twice now, but he won’t help give us any leads for someone who might be a better fit for my kid so that he can gain some confidence and experience. We’re expected to figure out how to do this on our own. We’re all frustrated with this situation, to say the least. It’s actually giving me PTSD.
My husband and I have been looking for alternative programs where my son could transfer his credits. We’re also at a point where we’re trying to find alternative majors or training for my son, because his interest and confidence in his current major is waning. With his very, VERY narrow set of interests and a huge lack of motivation, this is proving very difficult.
I’ve been suffering from burnout syndrome for a long time, and I’m just so used to it that I truly don’t know how to full relax. I recently read that parents of special needs children that are higher functioning often have more stress than those who are much more dependent. So right now, my stress is so bad that I’m starting to not only do the usual of losing sleep and being grumpy and have the occasional eye twitching, but now my body is throwing in the occasional heart palpitations when I’m not even doing anything that stresses me out. That can’t be good.
So, while I’ve come so far because of the professional support I’ve gotten towards an important part of my life–establishing a solid career, now I have to figure out how to find the support to keep parenting and help my kid so that he can find some success himself.
It’s still a climb to balance this work/life thing. I’ve got the work thing down now, thankfully, and hopefully it stays this way for a long while. But this life thing…UGH.
It’s been a while since I’ve actually updated things. The last few years with this pandemic haven’t actually been that inspiring. And the last year or so has been a whirlwind. As I write this, I just finished giving my husband all my documentation for our 2021 taxes. Wait–it’s 2022 already? There are times my head feels scrambled because there’s just so much going on, and just in 2022 alone, there have been some big changes in my life–or at least how I’m doing things. Let me explain.
First, let’s look at things on the STC front. I’ve worked very hard over the last few years as a chapter leader for my local chapter–doing everything from communications to membership to programming to executive operations (if you want to call it that), and while I still have to do one more transition training after the spring (Easter/Passover) holidays, I’m essentially out of chapter/community leadership for a while. I knew the day would eventually come. I’m still a chapter member, just not in leadership. It was a good run, because the chapter is still going despite a lot of things that went wrong due to the pandemic and just the state of the world right now, and I’ve left it in the hands of people that I trust, so that helps. But this doesn’t mean that I’ve left the STC volunteer schema in any way. If anything, I got lucky as I was elected as a Board Director for the STC Board Director. I will tell you, the process to be a candidate was more intense than any job interview process I’ve ever been in! And I was lucky because there were two spaces and I was one of two candidates…so…you do the math. I really went into it not expecting to be elected at all, and lucky if I got to be on the slate. So, there’s a lot of changes that are coming up this month where I’ll be initiated into the Board. I sat in on an orientation/onboarding meeting this past week, and just had to breathe through it…it’s different, and it’s a lot to take in. I’ve been assured by my friends who’ve been on the STC board that I’ll be fine. I hope they are right. In the meantime, I’m still active on the Community Affairs Committee (CAC) for the Board, so that keeps me busy as well on that front for the rest of the program year. Between Board stuff and CAC stuff, I’m going to especially busy for the next month or so. I’m also presenting at the STC Summit this year, so I have to finish out the slides and such for that. Busy, busy, busy.
The other big thing that’s happened this year is that something that I’ve been seeking since this blog was started was finally achieved. I finally got a permanent placement position that’s remote. While I still had to interview for the position as if I was coming from the outside, I was able to convert my contract position into a permanent full-time employee position. I’m still doing the same job, except now I have the security that my contract isn’t ending at the end of October 2022, so unless there’s a big layoff or I really screw up, I have some job security. That’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I finally have employee benefits–better than what my husband had at his long-term position, that we switched it to me taking over medical, dental, vision, etc. Some things that I’m working on, though, is getting out of a contractor mentality. I’m still the biggest advocate for contractors–believe me–but I’m still adjusting to a full-time employee mentality. I haven’t been a full-time employee since 2000–before my son was born! So, it’s a bit of an adjustment in that respect. I also am part of progress checks and performance evaluations, which I’m not used to, and that gives me anxiety. I went through my first one the other day, and so far, so good.
Nonetheless, I’m glad that I’ve found a work “home”, and I generally like the work that we’re doing. Right now, it’s a little stressful as we have a big project going on that is launching at the end of June, and the intensity of getting everything done and doing the due diligence with the content is…challenging. Part of the challenge is me learning to go with the flow of things, and while I know what’s planned for after this project, I can’t think past that project launch. Just so much going on. I will say, at least, that where I’ve landed encourages that I have the opportunity to learn and grow, and I know my manager is happy with my STC involvement, so, that helps.
Some of these things spill over into my personal life, of course. While I haven’t been needing to look for a new position, I had to help my son look for his first apprenticeship/internship for school as he continues his studies to be an auto mechanic. He still struggles with his studies, but I can’t always help him because I don’t know the first thing about auto mechanical-related stuff. But I could help him with his apprenticeship search, and I’m helping him with his onboarding. It’s his first job, and his autistic anxiety is getting the best of him in some respects. I think he’ll do fine. We lucked out because we pushed him to look before the other students did, and he is starting in two weeks where he works once a week for about 3-4 weeks, and then he’ll be almost full-time (32 hours per week) while he continues his studies during the next 16 months. But, he got something, and he’s going to be one tired guy once he starts, but hopefully it’ll go well. He seems to get along with the service manager he’ll be working for, so that’s a good start. When I started this blog, he was still a little boy, an early “tween”. Now, he’s a young adult, and while in some ways he’s still a teenager even though he’s actually in his early 20s, so much is changing for him, too. Oh, and the hubby is fine, too. Readjusting to working hybrid, and he’s wishing he could work remotely permanently.
So, that’s the update. Kind of hard to write about much more at the moment. Oh, I will be on the Content Wrangler podcast this week as well! The podcast is A Decade of Observations From TechCommGeekMom: Danielle Villegas on April 20, 2022 1:00 pm ET. I look forward to talking to Paul Perrotta! He and I already just gab and gab when we do get together to talk, so it should be an interesting chat!
How have you started to emerge from the pandemic? Any big changes for you? Share in the comments.
On March 9, 2012, I was in my last semester of getting my master’s degree in professional and technical communications at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). One of the two last main courses I was taking was “Theory and Practice of Social Media”, a course I would later teach a few years later. In the class, we were instructed that we had to create a blog/website. So, I took some blog posts I had created for another class to start, added a few more, and well…the rest is history.
The idea behind this blog was–and still remains–one to express my ideas and issues that deal with various technical communications topics. When I was getting out of grad school, by ambition was to be an instructional designer. Here I am a decade later…someone who has used instructional design, but is not an instructional designer. But between my pre-grad school background skills, plus all the enhanced ones from my studies, I began a journey that continues today to try to find my “calling”. It feels like I’ve done a little bit of everything, but in the last decade, between continuing education through the Society for Technical Communication (STC), and getting some more continuing education certificates in digital marketing and UX Design, I’ve continued to expand and grow to get to where I am today.
There are over 1300 articles in this blog over the years. Often, it would be me sharing an article with some commentary, and sometimes it was baring my soul as I’ve gone through my journey to now. Sometimes, it was good; sometimes, it wasn’t so good. It’s been a rough decade! But I’m at a point where I feel like I might finally be coming out on top.
Anyway, I digress…this is still a space for exploration and learning. I’ve always invited constructive comments because social media (and yes, blogging is a form of social media still) is meant to be a means of a two-way communication, much more than just a one-way conversation, even if it ends up being that way most of the time. It has been a space where I could express myself and show what I know…this was initially a “marketing” tool for myself in helping me find work. Sometimes this has paid off! People get to know me beyond the resume or CV, and get to know me a little better, and understand what I’m learning to grow in my career.
While I don’t write as often as I used to, most of that is due to just being burned out and busy. The last two years, with a pandemic, have been trying on everyone, and my focus has been elsewhere. But I’ve come a long way in a decade.
You know that question that interviewers ask often–that lame question that goes along the lines of, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” Where I am not is not where I thought I’d be. I’ve learned not to give an answer to that. I can say, “This is my goal,” but do I always reach those goals? No. But I persevere. And this blog is a testament to my perseverance.
I’ll try to stop in more often when I can. I think things are changing enough in my life that I can start to share articles and add commentary again, or try to post original content like this. But there’s over 1300 articles in this blog. I’m sure you’ll find something worthwhile to read in there. 😉 I’ve updated the layout theme a little bit so that it’s fresh for a new decade, so enjoy!
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