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(Kim Anderson is a fellow technical writer who worked as a contract traveling technical writer in Mid-West for two years. Since that’s such an interesting assignment, I’ve asked Kim to share her experiences with us. She kindly agreed and submitted this wonderful piece for us. Thanks Kim! — Ugur) (Here is Kim’s Resume)
By Kim Anderson
Special for TCC
“This is the final boarding call for Kim Anderson. Please report to H11 to board your flight.” Gate changing at Chicago’s O’Hare was a normal day on the job.
My Mondays would start no later than 3:50 am — any later and I could miss a flight, starting the week off trying to figure out how to get to work. The ride to the airport always included a short nap and a gust of cold air to wake me again as I got of the cab. After hitting the McDonald’s for my usual breakfast, I took the time to write out the things I had to get done that week.
Where was I with that machine manual? Which operator did I need to get in contact with? What edits were still out making the rounds?
Once I arrived at work around 10:30 am, at a time where others were itching at their desks for their lunches, my 8 hours began.
For the past 2 years I traveled 100% as a contract technical writer. In the manufacturing industry, I focused on machine operation and maintenance manuals for training purposes. I prided myself on the relationships I developed with expert operators and mechanics; the more rapport I built, the more benefit added to the documentation, and the more that SME felt a greater contribution.
I found myself truly enjoying going to work and learning something new everyday. Not only was I learning how a machine operated in one facility, but I also found the machine differences at a similar facility across the country. Did that bring about a significantly different result? Was there a different way this machine was maintained? My mind was always flooded with questions that I knew would be going through the minds of the employees going through the training.
My week out of state was not only filled with researching on the production floor, writing, and editing, but I was one of the resources for the other facilities as far as ensuring standardization of the manuals being created. I assisted in the style manual for the training manuals so that other facilities could easily view other manuals as a reference for their own, while endorsing clear and concise documentation. Since I was a resource for the six facilities, it also allowed an easy transfer of best practices.
As the end of the week away arrived, I had to ensure all my belongings were packed up, my flight was all set, and a ride was setup to/from the airport. I would close up any loose ends for the week and let SME’s any items of discussion that I wanted to still speak with them about the following week.
As I went through the robotic airport movements on Friday, I was happy to see Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, indicating I was home once again. It wouldn’t be long until Monday morning’s early start to an eventful week would begin.
Do you also have such unique experiences as a technical communicator? Would you like to share it with us? Please feel free to inquire.