Why I Bit the Bullet and Joined STC

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 .

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10 thoughts on “Why I Bit the Bullet and Joined STC

  1. Craig October 7, 2015 / 11:33 AM

    I, too, sometimes feel like an impostor.

    Like

    • gretaboller October 7, 2015 / 12:06 PM

      I think we all do at some point or another. It’s the curse of the fake-it-til-you-make-it approach. Thanks for taking the time to comment and best of luck growing in your career!

      Like

  2. kellyb1210 October 7, 2015 / 11:38 AM

    Early in my technical writing career, I joined STC. I never regretted one moment of it. What I learned and the lovely people I met there and through it have served me beyond measure. Two of the people I met back then, are still my very best friends today. Lately I’ve grown away from STC and technical writing to and am seeking to expand my horizons. I’m now back at the point where you are today. I’m taking a new path and hearing your words have inspired me to look for and start participating in my new community! Like you said, “you don’t join a community because you’ve “made it”; you join because you realize that you still have things to learn.” And, I do. Thank you, Greta.

    Like

    • gretaboller October 7, 2015 / 12:09 PM

      Thanks, Kelly, for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you had positive experiences with STC and I look forward to having a few of my own. Good to know I conjured up some nice memories and inspired you seek a new community to grow with. Best of luck in your next career journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Larry Kunz October 7, 2015 / 11:38 AM

    STC: the popular table. I love it! (And I’m sure I’m not alone.)

    Welcome, Greta, welcome. You joined STC for exactly the right reason. Not because you’ve “made it” but because you have more to learn. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it expressed as well as you expressed it.

    Like

    • gretaboller October 7, 2015 / 12:11 PM

      Thanks for your comment and praise, Larry. I’m happy to join in and start what I’m sure is going to be a great adventure! Hopefully I’m able to inspire others to do the same.

      Like

      • swapnilogale October 8, 2015 / 1:50 AM

        Greta,
        This is a very timely post. While TW societies around the world are struggling to keep members, it is refreshing to read from someone who has put it very aptly “you don’t join a community because you’ve “made it”; you join because you realize that you still have things to learn”.
        I have been a member of the Australian TW society, through it’s various forms, for the last 10 or so years and never had a day where I’ve haven’t learnt something or met someone new to inspire/talk/mentor me in my journey.

        Good luck!

        Cheers,
        Swapnil

        Like

      • gretaboller October 8, 2015 / 7:17 AM

        Swapnil,
        Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree, fewer and fewer people today seem to recognize the value of joining a professional organization. Hopefully this post can inspire some to rethink passing up the opportunity.
        I’m glad you’ve found so much value in your TW society! I hope my experience is just as rewarding. Thanks for the well wishes!
        Best,
        Greta

        Like

  4. Roger Gelwicks January 6, 2016 / 11:25 AM

    I’ve got a lot of honest questions about STC, but I’ll just ask this one: would you still recommend membership even if there’s no professional chapter nearby? I live in central Arkansas (not too many of us around here), and the nearest chapter to me is in Dallas-Fort Worth, which is 5 hours away.

    Like

    • gretaboller January 6, 2016 / 11:38 AM

      Great question, Roger. And there really is no simple answer. It comes down to WHY you would want to join STC.

      If you’re looking for in-person networking? Maybe STC isn’t right for you and you should explore (or start!) another technical writer meet-up near by. I’d still reach out to the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter and see if they ever hold events closer to your neck of the woods (you never know!).

      If you’re interested in attending the STC Summit, exploring online webinars, and the other perks of STC membership, there still might be a reason to join. If these are your reasons though, I would weigh the cost v. savings before jumping the gun.

      I recommend joining the STC LinkedIn group and posing the same question. You’ll find that so many people are very open about the risk v. reward of joining. You’ll also get an opportunity to network with the STC community without the 5 hour drive. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

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