​Hamilton Branch Report: Hamilton TechComm is alive!

September 2018

Andreea Calude, head and shoulders only. Andreea reclines with her hands behind her head, smiling at the sky with open eyes. She's wearing black, her hair tied up, and silver bangles on her left wrist.

Andreea Calude brings us the low down on Hamilton branch this month. Andreea is a language consultant, a professional linguist at the University of Waikato, and a Hamilton Branch coordinator for TechCommNZ! Hamilton TechComm is alive, long live Hamilton TechComm!

As a newly resurrected branch, Hamilton is embracing its future motto (after all, we have been – for some time now – the city of the future). As I walk down the foggy lane to our just recently proclaimed bi-monthly meeting in Hamilton town centre, I am savouring the opportunity to step back from my usual everyday tasks; marking linguistics assignments, writing academic research articles, and preparing new lectures, and to shifting perspective to an entirely new mode: enjoying the chance to ponder what I love about language. Full stop.

It still seems surreal to me that I am part of a professional organisation called “technical communicators”, let alone that I organise meetings for one of its branches. Over the course of the evening it becomes clear – to my great relief – that the other six members joining the meeting tonight felt the same.

There we were, an eclectic mix of independent consultants (writers of children’s books, former editors of international publishing houses, WordPress wizzes, and professional development trainers of plain English), permanent employees (from Gallagher, and the University of Waikato), and current and former students of distance technical writing courses. We each brought to the table a different set of skills, unique experiences with writing and editing of some form or another, and a variety of backgrounds, from English majors to Management graduates.

Some of us have driven ten minutes down the road to join the meeting, others one hour and a half. So Rome it would appear is not where all roads lead after all, these days, they apparently lead to technical communicating. It seems ironic to me, that in an age when the humanities have come under such fierce attack for their lack of presumed relevance – by governments, vice-chancellors, deans, and radio talkback callers – here we all were gathered around a table and discussing our lives carved firmly in one of the golden fruits of the humanity tree: language and communication! But let’s not go down that path…..

The tone of the meeting is informal and jovial and we quickly relax into the mode of sharing and connecting, learning from each other, and exchanging ideas and opportunities. Although there is no official programme, no talk or otherwise formality to the evening, we all do what we do best: communicate.

One question that seems to come up during the evening is how to get started in the area of technical communication. The discussion moves from good places to advertise one’s services and skills online, to the importance of having a presence on the internet and a good, clear website, the role of word-of-mouth and personal recommendations, and the downside of under-charging for one’s services, and right down to details of internships available for recent graduates (thank you Gallagher!). Frantic exchanges of contact details and useful websites take place throughout the evening. Wine fills glasses. Cards change hands. The seeds of new beginnings are in the Waikato air.