Survival Strategies for Savvy Sightseers March 27, 1999 Rob Houser www.userfirst.net Introduction Introduction Warning Today I’m here toso profuselyabout the work Nothing is given advise you as advice. world for beginning technical - La Rochefoucauld communicators… Beware those giving advice Find a Mentor Identify someone who can guide you as you build your career - Role model Advisor Sounding board Objective outsider Helps provide perspective on the events you experience Find a Mentor What to look for in a mentor? - - Someone with more experience in the field than you Someone you admire and trust Someone who holds a position that you want Find a Mentor Keep your mentor appraised of your progress Meet with them once a quarter Ask them for advice about difficult decisions, training, and direction Identify Performance Objectives What is the use of running if you’re not on the right way? - Lao Tsu You need to set goals to make significant progress in your career Mention your goals when you interview for a job Identify Performance Objectives Objectives are measurable ways you can work towards your goals - Goal: Become an expert in usability. Objective: Perform one usability evaluation for an online help system. Your objectives can be based on your company’s goals as well as your personal goals for yourself Identify Performance Objectives Sit down with your manager during your annual review and set 5 objectives to accomplish for the next year Verify these objectives in writing After 6 months, ask your manager to evaluate your progress Learn on the Job Learning doesn’t stop after you leave school You’re just beginning, not finishing your education Keeping your skills current is the only real form of job security Learn on the Job Look for jobs where they offer support for additional training - Time off with pay for training Money to attend workshops Support for advanced degrees Build your library of books and journals in the field Learn on the Job Actually read the journals Keep an eye on tools and skills in demand by employers Keep up with events in your industry Attend many User First Services workshops Be Flexible Don’t feel restrained by having to use a style guide and follow an ISO process Big companies don’t expect you to reinvent the wheel for every project Be Flexible Adapt to style guides and ISO processes quickly and willingly Others will judge you by how well you adapt to real-world constraints Be Flexible Style guides and ISO processes create consistency (and should ensure quality) Don’t let style guides and ISO processes hamper your creativity Adapt to your corporate culture before you try to change it Choose your battles wisely Get Close to Your Audience Knowing your users is critical to successful design Many people in the workplace do not understand and practice user/task analysis or usability testing Sales and marketing may not want you to contact actual users or go to their work sites Get Close to Your Audience Review reports from tests/user visits Talk to product management, marketing, sales, and training Observe (or attend) classroom training Get Close to Your Audience Sit in on support call resolution and study the database of problems Conduct phone surveys Get involved with site visits, user surveys, and usability testing if possible Get Close to Your Audience Know the common excuses for not talking to users Be prepared to argue persuasively for user contact based on the goals of your company Search for cost-effective solutions Learn how to measure the value of gathering information about users Build Credibility Know your stuff Be technical (SMEs respect homework) Be thorough Be dependable Build Credibility Delve into specs Become an expert with the tool Edit everything carefully Learn the art of satisficing Spend extra time and effort on projects with the biggest payoff Be Prepared for Ageism You may be treated differently because you are younger Realize that some will be threatened by your knowledge and abilities Many in the corporate world favor practical approaches over academic Be Prepared for Ageism Try not to talk about school too much Relate your ideas to real projects Approach real-world constraints as challenges to overcome rather than as bad practices Look for companies that value youth Understand the Politics The work world is political Conflict and misunderstandings are to be expected People have varying agendas - - Security Advancement Respect Money Understand the Politics Listen more than you speak Don’t criticize a product or guideline until you know who created it Avoid being negative (complaining) Look for a person’s motivation before trying to persuade them Don’t make everything personal Understand the Politics Cover your back - - Submit status reports to your manager and archive them Always get permission in writing Save important e-mail Track your time meticulously Maintain close contact with your manager and project leader but retain your confidence Invest Wisely Investing money early in your career pays off exponentially Example based on investing only $10,000 at the following ages 25 $2,668,635 35 $652,117 45 $153,665 55 $30,455 Invest Wisely Put the maximum in your 401K from day one of your employment Invest in a Roth IRA Don’t even open all of those credit card offers Debt costs as much exponentially as investments increase your wealth Stay Active in Prof. Societies Keep up with others in your profession Watch out for trends and directions in the field Show your commitment to professional development Stay Active in Prof. Societies Join and be active in societies - - STC (Society for Technical Communication) IEEE PCS (Professional Communication Society) SIGDOC (Special Interest Group for Documentation) Stay Active in STC Join other societies - - - SIGCHI (Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction) UPA (Usability Professionals Association) ASTD (Association for Training and Development) ISPI (International Society for Performance and Instruction) Conclusion You’ll probably have to figure out all of this on your own Keep in touch - email@example.com 404.797.9350 Good luck!
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