"If a Technical Writer does not fully understand their product, they won’t ever be able to explain it to others. It's like giving directions to someone in a city you have been living in for just one day."
by Paola Cortes, Technical Writer at Wizeline
Do what you love.
Defining what you want to do for a living is not an easy task. When I graduated from high school at 16, I certainly was not ready to figure it out. At that time, my mindset was: “I want to do something technology-related, so engineering it is. But which engineering path? Let’s see, I like mobile technologies and communication. So, Telecommunication Engineering, here I come!”
I loved my field of study. But, what I loved the most was the fact that every technical project we had needed a written report. I enjoyed writing project reports and explaining all of the technical details. To be honest (and I realize that it might be narcissistic to say so), not everyone in the class was enjoying themselves as much as I was.
One person’s passion is another person’s pain point
Slowly, more and more of my college mates started asking me to write papers for them. And that’s how, without knowing it, I learned the most valuable thing about being a Technical Writer: people are willing to tell you all about their projects and products, as long as they don’t have to write! They want somebody else (you!) to explain the details to the world. Simply put, they want you to be their perfect translation buddy. And here is a good part: they are willing to pay for that. Best of all, you are constantly learning new things!
By the end of college, my passion was defined and my pocket was happy. I wanted to continue writing. But how to find this dream job without even knowing what it was called in the real world? I browsed a jobs portal and entered the magic keywords: “engineering”, “writer”, “documents”, and ta-da! Job openings for Technical Writers appeared.
Finding a niche in Technical Writing
After applying for a few Technical Writer positions, I got the opportunity to work for a software development company. There, I found a group of smart developers and technical specialists who would rather write a piece of code than spend time on a presentation that explains how the code added value to the product.
My formal documentation journey had started. I created a list of drafts and a set of questions I needed to ask to get all the product information. After initial mistakes and errors, I understood that unless I truly used and worked with a product, I wouldn’t get to know it. I learned another lesson: if a Technical Writer does not fully understand their product, they won’t ever be able to explain it to others. It is like you are giving directions to someone in a city you have been living in for just one day.
This was five years ago. I can tell you for sure that being a Technical Writer challenges you and teaches you new things every day. Tech Writing forces you to develop a set of hard and soft skills you didn’t know you needed, like assertive communication, accepting feedback, critical thinking, empathy towards the user, and so on.
The future is bright. From here, the career is like a long-branched tree where the main trunk is the perfect technical and communication mix.