By Holly Helterhoff
Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
Director, ASUD Program
Five minute update with Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication (MSTPC) graduate John Baker '09.
Where do you work? What is your title?
Thomson Reuters. Manager II, Technical Communications
Why did you decide to enter the Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication (MSTPC) program?
I knew that I wanted to go back to school, but I was weighing options. I considered an MBA, a Human-Computer Interaction degree, etc. I chose the LTU MSTPC program because I was intrigued by the creative aspect of the curriculum. In addition to the typical Technical Editing, Research Methods, and Rhetoric courses you'd find in similar programs, I was enticed by courses like Corporate Storytelling, Web Design, and Writing for Social Media. The curriculum stuck out as fresh and aware of trends like conversational writing and storytelling.
What was your favorite aspect of/ course in the program?
Maybe it's cheesy, but my favorite part is the people. There's no stuffy barrier between instructors and students, and I learned so much from other students in the program. I think we all learned a lot from one another because we come from different disciplines, backgrounds, cultures, and more, and because we each had a specific personal goal to attain from the program. And the faculty was there at every step to make sure they understood those personal goals and to help facilitate success.
How are you using the experience and skills you gained in the program?
Oh gosh, how am I not using the experiences gained from the MSTPC program?
Every day I plan meeting agendas, write status reports for different audiences, craft presentations, lead research efforts, design front-ends for help websites, and more. These are common tasks, I think, in many workplaces, and to do them well requires clear and strong communication habits. The MSTPC program underscored the importance of research and understanding your audience so that you can present information clearly and articulately.
What advice or suggestions do you have for anyone considering the program or your career path?
Be ready to learn a lot about yourself, and be open to constructive feedback on how to improve. Whether it's your writing, presentation skills, or how you go about solving problems, the MSTPC is sure to challenge and improve the way you work.
What else should we know about you and what you are doing?
While my immediate role is to manage a team of technical writers who write help documentation for accounting software, my latest passion project centers around building a unified content strategy within our organization—tying together content creators and processes from different business units (marketing, training, support, technical communications, and more).
I'm always up for a chat about the MSTPC program, UX, content strategy, professional writing, or the tech comm field. Just drop me a message on LinkedIn.