When I graduated college, I was certain of two things: I wanted to be a technical writer, and I wanted to be successful at it. Naturally, this was going to take a lot of hard work. But I was certain that if I applied myself, I would learn and grow in my position over the natural course of time.
Through my first job, I learned a lot about technical writing and much more about myself. I was exposed to different assignments and colorful people who shaped how I view technical writing and the professional world. But while I felt firm-footed in my position, stepping outside that bubble terrified me.
In my mind, I was a small fish in an even smaller pond. Traveling even slightly outside of my comfort-zone would expose me as a fraud. I had to outgrow my space and make a name for myself before I ventured out into the technical writing community. How backwards I was.
In an effort to grow my professional acclaim, I expanded my online presence. I became active on LinkedIn groups. I started a blog and Twitter. In the process, I ran across many generous and thoughtful people. I confided in them that I wanted to grow my network. I wanted to know the people worth knowing and be that person in return. And they came back with some shocking advice: just do it.
In fact, many people suggested STC. At that time, the thought of joining STC brought back high school flashbacks of trying to sit at the popular table. But luckily enough, a kind Rick Lippincott found my cry for help. He connected me with Viqui Dill who invited me to come to an STC event at GMU. I attended, timidly shared my card, blurted out how excited I was to be there, and left feeling like an utter failure.
The strangest thing came from that event. People remembered me. They read my blog. They followed me on Twitter. They introduced me to more people. They encouraged me to participate in more events, keep blogging, and stay active in the community.
The more people I met and talked to, the more I realized you don’t join a community because you’ve “made it”; you join because you realize that you still have things to learn. Communities and organizations like STC don’t exist to praise the forerunners. They exist so that people can continue to learn and grow professionally outside of their place of work. They exist to introduce people to the profession and give them a foundation to succeed.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had no intention of parting from STC. In fact, I had every intention to grow and have a voice within it. With that being the case, it only made sense to finally join. So today, I did.
About the Author
Greta Boller is a technical writer located in the Washington, D.C. area. For more information, please visit her bio page.