By Jackie Norey
Jill Bornemeier discovered her love for technical communication in her senior year of college. She had always enjoyed writing poems, short stories, and other types of creative writing. However, for her senior project, Jill dappled with a different kind of writing. She designed and wrote attendance software for a company, which was used to track hourly employees’ attendance. She also created a user’s guide for her new software. After she succeeded in her new approach to writing, Jill realized she really enjoyed this newfound technical aspect of communication.
Jill graduated from college and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on programming. Before her 1992 graduation, a friend asked Jill to write user documentation for the software company he worked for. This was Jill’s second experience in technical writing and her first job in the field. She left the company when she landed her current job as a contract writer for Media 1 in Grand Haven, Michigan.
As a contract writer, Jill is able to work mainly from her home office. She is ready to begin her day at 8 am. During the day, Jill accomplishes various tasks, including email or phone interviews with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). She uses the information she obtains in these interviews to complete background research on the topics of her current projects. She then needs to organize the information and figure out how to make it all flow. After all of the preparation, Jill is ready to write, and write, and write.
Technological advances have positively affected Jill’s career. When she first started writing, writing and editing were all completed in hard copy. She started using an application a little bit later, which used conditional text. However, her final work was still in hard copy form. Online help projects, such as HTML Help, surfaced next. Finally, web-based documentations and courses were developed, and that is what Jill uses today.
Jill loves her job as a contract writer, because she is constantly learning about new things. Because she is a contractor, the topic variety of her projects is quite vast. “I LOVE learning about new topics, and new topics are constantly coming my way,” Jill says. “It’s awesome!”
To aspiring technical communicators, Jill offers some words of advice: “Take pride and ownership in your work, and you'll consistently produce better writing. I feel that everything I produce reflects on me—in my heart, I own it, my name is on it. I make it a practice to make sure that I'm proud of any work I deliver, whatever that takes.”