I wonder how I can combine my passion for writing and technology into a career that I will absolutely love.
I know it is important for me to live my best life. This starts by finding my 'dream' career. I want to be successful in a career that I am passionate about.
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I am a data analyst with a background in IT. While I often write in codes (which I love!), I also need to use creative writing skills when it comes to bridging data together from different sources, or writing system, process or project documentation. Technology has chuck-full-of-information and great writing skills help bring these information to life! women-in-tech women-who-code information-technology
Hi, Bianca -- I've been working in technology industry for many years and have always enjoyed creative writing as well. I've recently found a great way to bring the two together by blogging for the company I work for.
George Bird, M.A.
My first question would be "What kind of writing are you doing now?" The second would be "How are you defining technology?" For me the technology came first and dominated my career for nearly two decades. I was more interested in making computers work than writing about them. That began to change as my customers started asking questions once their equipment was working.
The questions came in so regularly (and often redundantly) that I began writing letters and lists that I could copy and hand to them. The phone would ring less and I could concentrate on my first passion, making things work. I was not what anyone would call passionate about writing.
Eventually writing became more important and I found myself writing manuals to explain how my customers and their employees could complete the tasks that made up the bulk of their jobs. Still I maintained my title as a computer technician. My interest in technology shifted as computers became more and more disposable and, thanks to an array of skills I learned in the Navy, I found myself working in aircraft plants, an axle factory and fabricating props for theme parks.
One day, I'm working on sets for the Men in Black ride when I get a call from a recruiter asking if I want to move to Atlanta and write about gas turbines for GE. Since it was paying far more than I made laying up fiberglass, I packed. I knew about gas turbines after operating one in the Navy that was about the size of a small car. When I saw the GE frame 7 gas turbine, the size of a small school bus, I was smitten. It was absolutely fascinating. This was when my job title became and remains Technical Writer.
I wrote about gas turbines and power plants for nearly 20 years. I wrote operating procedures, maintenance procedures, commissioning procedures, training manuals and classroom presentations. This took me all over the US and around the world. Only last year did I jump out of power to write about medical devices. I wanted a change and a bit more stability (I worked as a contractor the entire time I wrote about power).
Be advised though, technical writing means a great deal of research. It's often well over half of what I do in a day. You have to be able to dissect a technology, often with the advice of engineers, and explain it to a wide range of audiences from end users to executives. And this explanation is a 1-way street most of the time so accuracy is essential. Another problem you'll find is the job title itself. In the employment world a Technical Writer is most often portrayed as a code crunching IT professional who happens to be able to write well. If you find yourself specializing in a non-IT form of writing, be ready for waves of IT recruiters offering IT jobs that don't come close to applying to your skill set.
An excellent place to learn more is idratherbewriting.com and many of the employment sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and even Monster (which isn't as dead as you may have heard). You should also research professional sites like LinkedIn to get a first hand look at the careers of actual writers and technology professionals.
I've suggested a few steps that may help.
Thomas recommends the following next steps:
The advice above is great, and I'd give another vote for looking into the tech writing field. One thing I would ask though, is do you like explaining technology to other people, regardless of how good they are with it? Many tech writers have to write for multiple levels of expertise, they could write a systems administrator manual at a high tech level, followed by a user manual for people who have no idea about the product. To be a good tech writer you need to be able to cover both levels. If that's not your thing, then perhaps Cary's idea of blogging or product review style writing may be a better option.
My advice: Write as much as you can. Work at your school newspaper, yearbook, whatever. Get published somewhere/anywhere. Write blogs. Just put yourself out there. The more practice you get, the better.
There might be personal bias but I think majoring in journalism in college is a good way to start. Work at the school newspaper. You get published. You hone your writing skills to a fine edge. Then you can get a job in technology (or other industries) working as a communications specialist, writing for internal publications, executives and other vehicles.
Good luck to you!