Transitioning to any new career can feel daunting. Often you run into the age old problem of how to gain experience before landing your first job, or maybe you are new to the area and just don’t know where to begin. For those of us transitioning to a career in technical writing there is help available from the STC in the form of their Mentoring Program. The program is an opportunity for someone new to the industry to be paired with a veteran technical communicator for three months to work toward a common goal. These goals are not one size fits all. Each mentee comes to the program with a different set of needs, and each mentor has a different set of skills and experience.

Imagine a speed dating event but with professional purposes.

The Fall mentoring meet ‘n greet, held on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at Extreme Networks, was an effective way to match a mentee with a mentor whose experience matched their own goals. These goals can range from creating portfolio pieces, getting help with resumes or interview skills, guidance through the job market in the Triangle, as well as becoming part of a professional network.

STC President Sree Pattabiraman

The event began with a bit of dinner and networking. We were then given an introduction to the STC by Sree Pattabiraman (above), the president of the STC Carolina Chapter. Bridget Potter, the outreach director of the chapter, was up next with an overview of the Mentoring Program.

After all the introductions were complete it was time for the mentors and mentees to interview one another. While the Fall event traditionally has a smaller turnout than the Spring meet ‘n greet this actually worked to the advantage of the mentors and mentees as we were all given more time to spend interviewing one another. Imagine a speed dating event but with professional purposes. Each mentor and mentee spent 10 minutes talking with one another about their backgrounds. The mentees could explain what they hoped to gain from the program while the mentors gathered information and discussed how they thought they could help. After all the rounds of interviews Bridget collected each person’s top 3 choices for mentors and mentees so she could find the best matches for everyone.

Besides the real-world experience, advice, and assistance to be gained from the mentors in this program the mentee can also benefit from a three-month license to use MadCap Flare at no cost. This gives each Mentee an opportunity to work on a project using software that is actively being used in many of the technical writing jobs being listed in the area.

All of the mentors were kind, gracious, and seemed genuinely interested in helping us.

Having never attended one of these mentoring meet ups I had no idea what to expect. I walked away thrilled at the prospect of having some assistance as I work to break into this field. All of the mentors were kind, gracious, and seemed genuinely interested in helping us. In addition to being informative the event was just a lot of fun. I am excited to find out who my mentor will be so we can get to work. If you missed this meet up keep your eye out for the Spring event.


Tracy Rogers is a recent graduate of the Duke Technical Writing Certificate Program with undergraduate degrees in English and Communications Media from Appalachian State University. She currently works for Protolabs, a 3D printing manufacturing program in Morrisville, NC.