By Crystal Johnson
Sr. Technical Writer, Litton Loan Servicing
Direct Member Services, STC-Houston
I fell into the Technical Communication field by default. You see, I’m one of those folks that actually majored in the field instead of just “falling into it because of job scope creep,” mostly because I stink at math and logic. Apparently, you need these two skills if you are going to do well as a programmer. I found that my best scores were in English and writing classes, so my advisor suggested I try what was at the time the new Professional Writing program being offered at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Shortly after signing on, I was also pointed towards STC Houston. I even attended a couple of meetings. At the time, though, I wasn’t ready to volunteer for anything, and I thought the fees were too steep, especially for a struggling student like me. Looking back now, I don’t think I really got the point of professional organizations.
Jump forward ten years. I found I was the lone technical communicator in a growing company. I had kept tabs on STC and the Houston chapter, with the growth of the Internet making this task much easier. Suddenly, I realized that even with the freebies being offered over the web, if I wanted to stay fresh in my career I needed to be plugged in to something that would keep me informed of the latest and greatest. Of course, meeting other technical writers face-to-face was also an important thing for me to do. So, this time, not only did I sign up, I also volunteered for the STC Houston Administrative Council. And this was with a newborn baby coming into my home!
So far, I have not regretted this decision. In fact, especially in light of everything that’s going on with the economy, I’m very glad to be a part of an organization such as STC and STC Houston. It enables me to keep aware of the state of my chosen career path and gives me a place to vent! I have also been able to apply what I’ve learned from a couple of the STC Summits to my job.
Admittedly, I was anxious to see how much the fees would go up, because being on the Administrative Council, as early as July, I had been warned that the fees would increase by a significant amount. When the announcement came in mid-October, I noted that, as promised, they were significantly more but, as I posted to the STC Houston Yahoo Groups, in perspective to 2007, the increase was really was not as high as I imagined it would be, and the fees are still more reasonable than for many other professional organizations.
I was a little perplexed about why we were being charged separately for a local chapter. However, it did not change my mind about signing up for the Houston chapter. I like supporting my local chapter to keep the programs and other services going, like the web site and forums.
At the November 10 meeting, this breakup of the fees was explained by Hillary Hart as separating the global services that STC offers, mostly infrastructure and legal support, from the sub-groups and programs. These areas now need to support themselves, which means STC Houston has to become more creative in offering services at the local level. However, STC is there to help the Houston chapter out if we need financial support for a special program. So my $25 still helps STC Houston, even if it‘s not direct help at the moment. And I was really interested in learning about the Leadership Program and Leadership workshop—free services that are being offered to all STC members.
Bottom line: I’m proud to be a member of STC and especially STC Houston, and will continue to be a member for as long as it continues to provide me with a place to call home!
To learn more about the changes to STC, go to: http://www.stc.org/2009/10/answers-to-questions-asked-on-listserves.asp.
To keep up with STC Houston, go to: http://www.stc-houston.org.