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Ten questions for Ines Lasch, intern at parson

Ines Lasch just finished her vocational training as a technical writer and is doing an eight-week internship at parson. We asked her ten questions. more ...

Vocational Training for Technical Communicators. How Does it Work?

Anja Schiel, trainee, and Ulrike Parson, CEO of parson AG, offer their insights into the vocational training for technical communicators. more ...

Make Technical Documentation Intelligent - From Content Management to Content Delivery

In this article, Martin Kreutzer and Ulrike Parson describe how you fill content-delivery portals with intelligent information so that users quickly get the right answers to their questions. more ...

parson's mentoring program

You sent the job application and the interview went well. Now comes your first day at work. Everything is strange: colleagues whose names you immediately forget, business processes, the ERP system. Even the coffee machine doesn't work right away. And where was that meeting room again? more ...

A year in London. I am not just missing my sock

May I present Parsons Green in London? I think it's a perfect name for a London parson branch. That branch is not planned yet, but a bit of parson is actually in London at the moment. Me. more ...

How to become a technical writer – Confessions of a former translator

A former translator, I worked the first seven years of my professional life in the translation industry, in various positions. While I learned a lot from this experience, it also left me, as a writer, frustrated. Translators are chained to their source text and writing the words of others in another language, usually focusing on what their clients want.

Don’t let your translation teacher tell you otherwise. For practical reasons, most of your clients will not appreciate a target-oriented translation approach (even if it is the right one, yes). A localized text needs to fit the same way its source text does on a website, a PowerPoint, a software, etc., and it usually doesn’t if you take liberties in your translation. Well, it doesn’t necessarily even if you remain close to the source but that is another story.

Lucie Le NaourLucie Le NaourOne level up before localization, technical writing offers another way of writing more (if not entirely) focused on the reader. If your readers don’t understand what you mean, they won’t be able to use your product or, worst-case scenario, will injure themselves with it. Yes, if you’re selling jigsaws with poorly written manuals to go with them, that might well happen! I learned that the hard way in my class about the basics of technical writing. Anyways. It is this writing approach that made me want to change career earlier this year. I wanted to write something useful and usable, with my own voice.

A few months younger and naïve me tried at first applying directly for technical writing jobs thinking “how hard can it be to be a technical writer after being a technical translator for years?”. Well it is pretty hard actually. After multiple rejections, I understood that technical writers do not work with the same tools technical translators do and I knew none of these tools. I also knew nothing about designing a documentation and quickly came to the realization that I’d have to learn anew. Which also seemed pretty appealing in the end!

After some research, it appeared that the place to go to for all information pertaining to technical writing is the tekom, the German and European association for technical communication. Thanks to their website I was able to find a two-year traineeship with parson AG.

It’s been three months I’ve been working here and I do not regret leaving the translation industry one bit. Getting to know and research all the products for which you write documentations and the degree of quality and precision required at every production step of a documentation is refreshing. Moreover, I still get to use my foreign languages English and German since you do not need to be a native speaker to write technical documentation (also my mother tongue is pretty much dead at this point).

If you happen to be a translator looking for a career change, I can only hope reading this article will inspire you to jump ship and hey maybe even join us! You should anyways, we have cookies here.* And no one minds if you want to wear an aggressively red hat indoors when it’s cold outside.

* Note from Uta, online Editor at parson: Not only do we have cookies, we also have a sweet dog (Molly), lovely red cups that travel (check this out), and excellent espresso.

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