Onboarding in Technical Communication – A Career-Changer Reports
Fritz Adrian Lülf
Dr. Fritz Adrian Lülf holds a doctorate in engineering and is a certified university lecturer and technical communicator. He advises and supports the introduction of editorial systems and the accompanying strategic processes. Fritz manages the team of trainers at gds GmbH and has several teaching assignments.
Mr. Lülf, you decided to switch careers to go into technical communication. How did you become aware of the profession?
“A good friend of mine was studying technical communication, and I learned about the profession through her. I got interested in the subject and went to the tcworld conference in Stuttgart (which was then still offline) to see what kind of people there were in the industry. I had a lot of chance encounters with people who were very helpful, who told me about it extensively.”
As a lateral entrant in technical communication: What is your professional background, and do you benefit from any previous knowledge?
“My professional background is a PhD in engineering – however, this is broader than these few words would have you think. I did my doctorate study in aerospace technology in Stuttgart and Paris, on numerical methods for simulating components. During my study, I worked in usability consulting and learned a lot about the psychology of perception. Also, in my time abroad, I found good access to languages. In this way, I came to know that the really interesting things happen when people and technology meet. What helps me in this is my absolutely structured way of thinking and working.”
How did you and the company where you did your traineeship find each other?
“I applied for a job opening. I brought the information about training with TCTrainNet from the tekom fair to the interview.”
Did you have active support in your onboarding from your company?
“Yes. The company paid for external training.”
The company paid for the external training. Were there any special agreements?
“Yes, I was supported in my training by my employer. It was a gentlemen’s agreement.”
Can you describe how the external training was designed to be in-service for you?
“Training with TCTrainNet was completely online self-study. This enabled me to organize my hours myself and integrate them very well into my everyday work. What was particularly helpful was the chance to learn something in the evening and be able to try it out the next morning at the company. This way, I could always immediately check if I had really absorbed the last lesson, and in a worst-case scenario, look through it again.”
How was the tekom certification examination for you?
“The certification examination was given online. It was very well organized and – thanks to intensive preparation – was no trouble for me. Everyone involved was very helpful, and I was well prepared for the examination.”
What is your opinion of this opportunity for starting a career?
“My opinion is mixed: Technical communication is still too much of a niche profession for everyone interested to find it right away. Thus, it’s very good that even people with a career start already “finished” (like me) can venture lateral entry through these opportunities. On the other hand, I can’t keep up with a trained technical editor who did nothing but technical communication for five years to get a master’s degree. I am of the opinion that lateral entries such as these should continue to be possible, as we will see fewer and fewer people practicing one profession from training to retirement.”
Today, you work in technical communication. Are you happy with the move?
“Yes, I am absolutely happy!”
What message would you give other career changers?
“Go for it! At the beginning, I thought technical communication was already enough of a niche, but now I know there are vast possibilities even just within technical communication: From XML development to psychological tests and from graphic and video design to consulting, there is certainly something for everyone!”
Onboarding is the right way for you to go, too.
Are you as a company looking for talented career changers? Or are you planning a career start in technical communication? Would you like to become certified?