My journey to technical writing involved a long, windy, and non-linear career path. Before I became a technical writer, I spent years working in finance jobs with a stint of teaching in between. Seeking a career change, I went back to university where I came across the Technical Writing certificate program. It was the perfect fit for my skills and interests.
One of Google’s technical writers, Nicole Yap, visited my class to talk about her career, and introduce Season of Docs—a program that brings technical writers and open source projects together to work on open source documentation. My interest was piqued as it seemed like a great opportunity for a new graduate. With no real world experience of writing documentation, I applied and was accepted into Season of Docs. I worked with Oppia, an online learning platform for a 3-month project, where I created a user guide with video tutorials.
During that time, I had to quickly become familiar with many new concepts:
- Open source philosophy
- Writing docs-as-code
- Command-line basics
- Submitting and amending pull requests on GitHub, and much more!
Opening doors to new experiences
I had such a positive experience working with my mentors1 at Oppia that we mutually agreed to extend our relationship. Over the next year, I continued to work with Oppia in different capacities—copywriting, editing, helping write math lessons—while getting to know the network of international volunteers who contribute to this incredible organization.
I also had the opportunity to present a talk at a Write the Docs Toronto meetup which was a great way to plug Season of Docs, and demonstrate what I had learnt during the program. There was quite a bit of interest from the audience as many hadn’t even heard of the program before.
My Season of Docs experience also helped me with my day job as a technical writer. After experiencing the steep learning curve with Oppia, I was able to hit the ground running with learning the new job processes at the software company. I was also able to fall back on my Season of Docs experience as I created marketing and technical videos in my new job as well.
A new opportunityAt the start of 2021, I had the opportunity to apply for a technical writing position at Google. I had the notion that a company like Google would require years of tech writing experience before they would even consider my application, but that turned out not to be true. I’ve been a technical writer at Google for four months now, and it still feels a bit surreal!
As a newcomer in the tech world, I find that everything I learned during the Season of Docs program has come in handy in helping me understand my job a little better. Getting into Season of Docs as a new entrant to the field of technical writing was a confidence-booster for me, and the path it led to has been challenging yet gratifying. I’m excited to continue learning every single day from the sea of talent around me.
By Audrey Tavares – Google Cloud
The current Season of Docs program format does not have a defined mentor role, but technical writers in the program work closely with project contributors to learn open source skills. ↩