Click for a printer-friendly version of this article It's All About the People

by Heidi Marr


I've always been called a "people person", which I normally take as a compliment. On the first day of Kindergarten, I told my mom to go home as soon as we walked into the classroom -- there were 25 new people to meet and I didn't want her holding me back.

In university, when we declared our majors, I declared two -- English and Political Science. In the small town where I grew up, if you could write and you were a decent public speaker, you became either a teacher or a lawyer. Teaching didn't interest me so I thought I'd go the lawyer route. My love of the law lasted less than a school year, but it didn't matter because in that time, I had discovered a new, more exciting career opportunity -- technical writing.

I was so excited when I learned that I could get paid for writing. Writing! And, through Waterloo's Rhetoric and Professional Writing degree, I could not only study the theory behind writing, but I could dabble in some of its more interesting variations. Advertising and page layout courses quickly became favourites, and coupled with a minor in Speech Communication, I was able to fill my days with courses I loved.

Then, I heard about this group of people who met at the university on the first Tuesday of every month. This Society for Technical Communication sounded alright on paper, so I thought I'd check it out. After my first meeting, I was hooked and became a student member immediately. I wanted to get more involved but I wasn't really sure how. After a few years, I made the leap and joined the council as Employment Manager.

Today, I'm the chapter president. I've come a long way from that first year student who thought she would become a trial lawyer. Instead of wowing the court room with fact and wit, I get to stand up in front of you, my fellow technical communicators, and share information about our profession and our chapter.

In fact, one of the best aspects of being your president is that I get to know many of you on a personal level. I love putting names to faces -- and faces to names -- and I especially enjoy hearing your unique stories.

Recently, I've heard your various reasons for joining the STC; I've heard about one member's struggle for finding a first job in technical communication and how her career is soaring now; and I've heard more than a few fantasies of becoming contractors and working from home. Whatever your story, I'm all ears. If our paths haven't crossed at a general meeting or chapter event, please flag me down and introduce yourself!

Not only do I get to talk to many of you in person, but I also receive dozens of email messages each week from members asking important questions, providing valuable ideas, and volunteering their many services. Earlier this month, one of our members provided not only a fantastic idea for a general meeting topic but a potential qualified speaker to boot. Through that contact, we've booked our April meeting on Information Mapping. Thanks, Peter!

One of the most common questions I hear from our membership is this: "I want to get involved in the chapter but I just don't know what I can do."

If this sounds like something you've ever thought to yourself, you're not alone! But, never fear. Your chapter council consists of a great group of individuals who would all love a helping hand. Volunteering at the chapter level doesn't necessarily mean taking on a portfolio position -- our chapter has many "one-off" volunteering opportunities available for the taking. And, the time commitment doesn't have to be large.

If you want to add a unique piece to your writing portfolio, you can volunteer to write a Quill article. If you spend a lot of time at one of the universities, you can volunteer to hang posters or drop material off in professor mailboxes. If you have an evening to spare, you can lend a helping hand at a career fair we are attending. If we put our heads together, we can find a niche you can fill.

So, please don't hesitate to contact any council member if you would like to get involved but just don't know how. Let us know if you've been harbouring a secret desire to chair a general meeting. Or, if you've always wanted to head up a PR campaign. Or, if you'd like to distribute STC brochures to Employment Centres, High Schools, Colleges, and Universities.

Every volunteering idea is a good one and we'd love to hear yours!


In this issue: Contents | President's Message | October History | New Perspective  | 
Workshop | Membership Drive | News from England | Manulife | Sun Life | September Recap | 
November Meeting | Management SIG | CIC The Right Stuff | CIC September Recap | 
CIC October Meeting | Banner Competition | STC Head Office | Word Origins | About the Quill |