Like any other graduate, Helen Shukla approached her father for advice about the career she should opt for. Her father made her take the SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis. After taking the test, Ms. Shukla realised her strength in communication and opted for technical writing. She made this choice at a time when the profession was not in vogue.
Ms. Shukla, who has now put in 17 years in the profession, thanks to her father for showing the way. “Though doing the analysis at that time looked silly, I have now realized its importance,” she said. She said she hoped everybody took the test before choosing their career. “I am also trying this out at the Writers Block,” she said. Ms. Shukla set up Writers Block, an institute that trains technical writers, recently. After completing her B.Com, Ms. Shukla did a one-year course at Aptech. She was exposed to technical writing while she was working in a software firm.
She then moved to banking application at Tiger Systems Inc of U.S. in 1991, where she was exposed to different tools of technical writing. “I learnt the art of writing for software running on DOS as well as Windows applications,” she said. It was here that she trained many of her colleagues in technical writing. Ms. Shukla later joined the documentation team of ANZ Information Technology, a multi-national firm.
Her stint at this company exposed her to the practices of the profession. She then worked in a mobile computing firm, RiverRun, for two years where she wrote user guides and online help for laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs). It was with this experience that she joined iCode, a firm in Koramangala, where she was given the task of recruiting technical writing professionals. It was here that she came to know about the shortage in quality technical writers.
“This is the case because of poor quality of English, which is necessary for the profession,” she said. As a Knowledge Manager at SAP Labs, where she was also involved in recruitment, she found many job applications with grammatical and spelling mistakes. At Writers Block, Ms. Shukla trains beginners as well as technical writing professionals in preparing job applications and resumes. This, she says, will keep them in good stead in the profession and give them a competitive edge in the job market.
Candidates are trained in the fundamentals of technical writing and are provided necessary communication skills. One thing that she does before admitting candidates for the course is to look for aptitude. For this, she and her colleague Anupama put the student through a counseling session. “Apart from knowing the candidate’s interests, we make him aware of the rigours of the profession,” she said.
She said she aims to produce quality professional technical writers who can stand out in the international market.