On April 17, 2018 Rebekka Andersen, Andrea Ames, Carlos Evia and Stan Doherty presented a panel discussion “State of Education in TC—Panel”. After there was a presentation, there was a question and answer period where the below question was not answered.
What are some avenues of collaboration? What are some ways you can work with Technical and Professional Communication (TPC) programs to help prepare students for entering the profession?
- Internship programs. Many universities have internship programs for TPC students, who can intern during regular semesters or summer/winter sessions. Some programs give academic credit for an internship, and industry sponsors are encouraged to provide compensation (even if it’s mainly symbolic) to student interns. However, some academic disciplines also have internships for faculty. Corporate sponsors can establish internships or fellowships that would allow educators to interact directly with industry trends, needs, and expectations. These programs could take place during summer terms or during a faculty member’s sabbatical or research leave. The sponsoring company can also benefit from a faculty member providing training to its employees.
- Mentorship programs and advisory boards. Mentorship programs offer a way for more experienced industry members to share their experience with new or less experienced members of the field. Several Society for Technical Communication chapters have mentorship programs--these chapters partner with a university to connect students or recent graduates with a mentor who provides career guidance, networking opportunities, and insight into different aspects of corporate culture. Interested industry members should contact local TPC programs to inquire about participating in or helping to establish a mentorship program.
- Mentoring sessions and workshops are also good options. Associations like the Society for Technical Communication, the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication, and the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing periodically conduct mentoring sessions and workshops that could become regular events at their regional or national conferences and meetings. Those mentoring programs can become a way to attract industry members to academic conferences.
Advisory boards can also expose industry representatives to program and curriculum design opportunities.
- Student discounts at conferences. Academic conferences in TPC offer discounts for undergraduate and graduate students. Industry conferences in areas related to technical communication and content development/strategy can implement similar discounts or have work-based incentives to involve students.
- Guest speakers. Practitioners can visit (online or face-to-face) TPC classes and talk about their experiences and needs. Likewise, educators can visit corporate environments and present their perspectives to establish common ground. Those interested in being guest speakers in classes or faculty development events should reach out to local programs and inquire about possibilities.
- Onboarding programs. Sharing onboarding and other training materials with TPC programs can help strengthen curricula and help faculty develop new areas of expertise. Onboarding programs help to bridge the skills gaps, and sharing materials and approaches can lead to fruitful conversations and collaborations.