Name: Heather Greiner
College & Majors/Minors: University of California, Santa Barbara
Current Location: Los Angeles, CA
Current Form of Employment: Technical Writer
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I am the Scribe in Chief at CounterTack, Inc, I serve as the Senior Technical Writer.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
I fell into technical writing right out of college. I applied for a receptionist position with a small computer hardware manufacturer in Southern California and the office manager felt I was overqualified for the position and suggested I speak to the president of the company about a better post. I had never heard of a technical writer, but my degree in English and my background as a mechanic made for a good fit. I have been a technical writer for over 20 years now and I have worked for movie studios, IT security companies, large banks, and a major university. My current position I found through a recommendation of a former coworker—his new company needed someone who could create end-user documentation for a highly complex security project.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
I have had the opportunity to write a column for Valley Scene Magazine, I get to write restaurant and hotel reviews, and often get a chance to write about the local music scene. It's a great opportunity to flex a different writing muscle, and to reach a different audience.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
In college, I made sure to study a wide range of disciplines under my major; I took linguistics courses to better understand language and culture; I studied prose and poetry, and Eliot, Pound, Milton, Byron, and Shakespeare were a few of the seminars I took each quarter. Expanding my base to further understand how people perceive the written word has been vital to honing my skills to reach my audience regardless of their level.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
The best advice I have is to write every day and push yourself to read something new each month. As you get older it gets harder to find time, or make time, to do the things you love. Creating the habit of writing every day and finding a new author or a new genre each month keeps you on top of your game.