Technical Writer/User Documentation Specialist
B.S. in S&TC, 2013
What is your current position?
I am a Technical Writer/User Documentation Specialist at a Minneapolis-based healthcare educational software company called Advanced Informatics. Our company produces E*Value, a customizable software that assists healthcare educators in managing student data and administrative processes. My main duty is to create and update documentation about E*Value functionality for the software's online help manual. Since the tools within the software are always changing, I am constantly editing existing documentation and creating instructions for the use of new tools. Another duty I am tasked with is adding documents that assist my co-workers in communicating with clients to the company Wiki. I also post updates about new tools and features on the client-facing administrator homepage in E*Value and my co-workers often ask me to proofread and edit their documents.
How does your position relate to technical communication?
My position relates directly to technical communication because it requires me to present technical information in a language and format that is concise but easily understandable.
What aspects of your study in technical communication have been most relevant to your current work?
Learning the process of editing my own and others' writing during my undergraduate career definitely helped prepare me for the job I have now. After I draft a document, I consult subject matter experts within the company and ask them to check the text's accuracy. Often, I need to revise the documentation to reflect obscure variables that can be produced within the software. Being able to revise my work to make it as accurate as possible is crucial for creating documentation that is useful for clients. Another aspect of my study in technical communication that has been extremely relevant to my current work is being able to analyze the needs of my audience.
What did you learn about technical communication that surprised you most in the workplace?
The most surprising component of technical communication in the workplace is how much I must communicate with other employees in order to complete projects. Although technical writing seems like a fairly independent line of work, I often need to consult coworkers from multiple departments to gather all of the information needed to write technical documentation. I was also surprised by the importance of well-written emails in the workplace. Emails that are poorly written and unclear can waste the time of all parties involved if they have to ask for clarification.
What message do you have for our current students?
Work on creating a clean, detailed resume. Your resume should show employers not only why they'd want to hire you, but also why they'd want to work with you. Internships can be crucial; relevant experience is attractive to potential employers, and internships give you an idea of what your career after college might involve. Also, start applying for jobs a few months before graduation. Even if you don't get a job offer right away, potential employers may keep your resume on file in case a position you're qualified for becomes available.
Congratulations to Merry Rendahl and Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch, whose article "Toward a Complexity of Online Learning: Learners in Online First-Year Writing" was accepted by Computers and Composition. The article will appear in 2013.
Congrats to RSTC alumna (1998) Sara Newman, our first PhD grad to become full professor! Sara is in the English department at Kent State University.
RSTC alumna Amy Koerber has had her book, Breast or Bottle?,accepted by University of South Carolina Press. The book is based on her dissertation, and will be part of the Rhetoric and Communication series.
Check out this short, reflective essay by RSTC alum, Merry Rendahl. Merry is an Assistant Professor in the Writing Studies Department at UMD.
Dr. Amy Propen, RSTC doctoral alum (2007) and assistant professor at York College of Pennsylvania, has just published her book Locating Visual-Material Rhetorics: The Map, the Mill, and the GPS (Parlor Press). See http://www.parlorpress.com/propen.
RSTC alumni Connie Kampf (Aarhus School of Business) and Smiljana Antonijevic (Roskilde University), both coincidentally visiting Minneapolis from Denmark, recently had lunch with some of our Ph.D. students.
From left: Molly Li, Michael Madson, Josh Welsh, Brigitte Mussack, Connie Kampf, Smiljana Antonijevic.
Congratulations to Writing Studies professor Mary Schuster, and RSTC alumna Amy Propen. Their article, "Understanding Genre Through the Lens of Advocacy: The Rhetorical Work of the Victim Impact Statement" won the John R. Hayes Award for Excellence in Research for 2010 from Written Communication.
The award was presented February 17th at the Writing Research Across Borders conference in Fairfax Virginia.
Propen, A. D. & Schuster, M. L. (2010). Understanding genre through the lens of advocacy: The rhetorical work of the victim impact statement. Written Communication, 27(1), 3-35.
The Department of Writing Studies, along with the U of M's Department of Communication Studies, is pleased to be hosting and coordinating local arrangements for the Rhetoric Society of America's 14th Biennial Conference to be held in downtown Minneapolis, May 28-31, 2010. Organized in 1968, RSA has grown to become the preeminent rhetorical studies society in the United States. The society's broad mission is "to gather from all relevant ﬁelds of study, and to disseminate among its members, current knowledge of rhetoric, broadly construed; to identify new areas within the subject of rhetoric in which research is especially needed, and to stimulate such research; to encourage experimentation in the teaching of rhetoric; to facilitate professional cooperation among its members; to organize meetings at which members may exchange ﬁndings and ideas; and to sponsor the publication of such materials." The conference theme is "Rhetoric: Concord and Controversy," and invites participants to deliberate on a set of perennial questions: Does rhetoric civilize? Or does it repress and control? Or both? Does it express the self? Or dissolve it into a cultural miasma? What is the price of community gained through the language of social control? What is the limit of dissent expressed through the language of difference and personal liberation? Where do diversity and sameness meet on the human tongue and in the human condition?
Good luck to all the Writing Studies / Rhetoric faculty, graduate students, and alumni presenting at this year's RSA Conference!
Carol Berkenkotter, Patrick Bruch, Richard Graff, Laura Gurak , John Logie, Bernadette Longo, Mary Lay Schuster
RSTC Alumni Presenters:
Smiljana Antonijevic, David Beard, T. Kenny Fountain, Cristina Hanganu-Bresch, Erin Wais Hennen, Constance Kampf, Krista Kennedy, Joseph Little, Marianallet Mendez, Gretchen Perbix, Amy Propen, Andreea Ritivoi, Greg Schneider
Current and Incoming Graduate Student Presenters:
Paul Anheier, Dawn M. Armfield, Robert Baron, Joseph Bartolotta, Stephen Brasher, Timothy R. Dougherty, Ed Hahn, Elizabeth Kalbfleisch, Matthew Kaplan, Trent Kays, Aaron Little, Timothy Oleksiak, Tad Patterson, Jacqueline Schiappa, Kimberly Thomas-Pollei, Maggie VanNorman, Drew Virtue, Jeff Ward, Joshua Welsh, Mary Jo Wiatrak-Uhlenkott, Matthew Williams
* To what extent is modern rhetorical theory a rearticulation or transformation of classical rhetorical theories?
* To what extent is modern rhetorical theory a rupture from its classical roots in response to social, aesthetic or technological changes?
* Can we use modern rhetorical theories to generate contemporary rhetorical criticism?
The Institute for Advanced Study is hosting a Colloquium on Modern Rhetoric October 22-24th. Organized by RSTC alumnus, David Beard, this event features presentations from an international faculty in composition, communication and rhetorical studies, including work by RSTC faculty members Richard Graff, John Logie, Art Walzer and Alan Gross, among others. PhD candidates Kim Thomas-Pollei and Liz Kalbfleisch are also participating.
For more information, visit http://ias.umn.edu/collabs09-10/ModernRhetoric.php.
Reyman, J. (2008). Rethinking plagiarism for technical communication. Technical Communication, 55(1): 61-67.
This article proposes that technical and professional communication instructors reconsider the treatment of the concept of plagiarism in current curriculum. I begin by examining existing approaches to teaching technical communication students about plagiarism and explaining the need for rethinking plagiarism in light of contemporary technical communication practices. The second section suggests several preliminary steps for addressing these issues, including revisions to plagiarism policies, classroom practices, and the treatment of plagiarism in textbooks. I conclude with a call for increased industry-academic dialog on the dissonance between the treatment of plagiarism in the classroom and in workplace practices.
Faculty, Instructional Staff, Graduate Students, and Alumnae from the Department of Writing Studies and the Center for Writing are presenting at this year's CCCC Convention in New Orleans.
Bernadette Longo, along with her co-editors Blake Scott and Katherine Wills, will be receiving their NCTE Outstanding Book award at CCCC this year for their collection Critical Power Tools. Congratulations, Bernadette!
Resisting Neoliberal Reality in the Writing Center: Durable, Democratic Networks in Long-Term Tutoring Practices, Relationships, and Program Development
Chair: Tom Friedrich, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Speakers: Tom Friedrich, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “Long-term Tutoring Relationships as Durable, Democratic Networks: Using Hermeneutic Study of the Essence of Long-term Tutoring to Guide Program
Kirsten Jamsen and Katie Levin, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “‘What makes a good writing center citizen?’: Two Case Studies of How Long-term Tutoring Relationships Change Writers and Tutors�?
Candance Doerr, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “Graduate Tutors and Dissertation Writers as Network Reality: Distributed Democracy or Social Reproduction?�?
Rhetorics and Realities of Change: Reflections on Theory and Practice from a New Department of Writing Studies
Chair: Patrick Bruch, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Speakers: Donald Ross, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “Rhetorics and Realities of Writing as a Campus-wide Initiative at Minnesota�?
Thomas Reynolds, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “Rhetorics and Realities of First-Year Composition at Minnesota�?
Tim Gustafson, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “Rhetorics and Realities of Teacher Development at Minnesota�?
Lee-Ann K. Breuch, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “Rhetorics and Realities of Assessment at Minnesota�?
Bodies, Water, and Money: Epideictic Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of Images in Science
Chair: Ken Baake, Texas Tech University, Lubbock
Speakers: T. Kenny Fountain, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, “Whole-Body Gifts: Epideictic Display and Anatomy Memorial Services�?
Fawn Musick, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, “Making Meanings through Visual Rhetoric in the Medical School Cadaver Lab�?
Derek Ross, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, “Sociopolitics and Dam Tourism: Glen Canyon and Hoover Dam as Recreational Areas�?
Ryan Hoover, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, “Scientists, Visual Rhetoric, and Grant Applications: Striking a Balance between Simplicity and Effectiveness�?
Institutions and the Writing In and Writing Out of Voice
Chair: Anthony Arrigo, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Speakers: Katy Southern, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Writing Histories of the Overlooked: Gender, Status, and the Historical Record�?
Anthony Arrigo, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, “Puny Hands: The Rhetorically Constructed Identity of Hoover Dam Laborers in Early 20th Century Popular Science Texts�?
Rhetoric Department Alumnae
Jennifer Novak, Denver University, CO, “Shaping Future Biomedical Practices: Kairos, Tools, and the Rhetoric of Medicine�?
Open Source and Free Software Users Group
Co-Chairs: Clancy Ratliff, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Charles Lowe, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI
Not Just a Bullet on an Outcomes Statement: Taking Civic Literacy Seriously
Chair: Clancy Ratliff, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Clancy Ratliff, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, “What Can Composition Learn from Bloggers’ Civic Writing? Tapping Into the Agora�?