Online Tools for Office Workers

Rank Goals or Options

The Prioritizer can help you make tough decisions.

Split, Merge, or Convert to PDF

They make Portable Document Format easy. Smallpdf can be used to compress PDF files and do a whole lot more.

Save Paper, Ink, or Storage Space

If you want to print an article off the Internet or save a webpage for future reference, I recommend Print Friendly.

Send a Short Fax for Free

No further explanation necessary, though you can also use Fax Zero to contact your government representatives if their voicemail inboxes are full.

Schedule a Group Meeting

Doodle is a useful tool for scheduling parties, study sessions, or other gatherings of people with a variety of schedules.

Advertisements

Books for Job Seekers

Get an Interview

The Job-Hunter’s Survival Guide by Richard N. Bolles
This book has a lot of helpful suggestions for looking for a job. It was a reasonable price, fit a lot of clearly written tips in just 100 pages, and had a very positive and friendly tone.

 

Prepare for an Interview

60 Seconds and You’re Hired! by Robin Ryan
Want to be able to deliver a persuasive elevator pitch, know how to respond to tough questions, and create a list of useful questions to ask during an interview? Learn all that and more in about 200 pages.

Graduation 2014: I did it!

Graduation Ceremony 2014

Commencement (Photo credit: William Colburn)

Looking back at these last two years, I’ve overcome some obstacles, but I do have a lot to be proud of. Though it was the sum of hard work rather than a story in itself, I did apply for and earn the technical communication scholarship all 2 out of 2 years that I’ve been here. I had a great internship experience. I’ve maintained multiple part-time jobs while earning high honors as a full-time student. What’s more, catching up after losing 3 weeks of school due to an injury that required surgery while planning a wedding pushed me to grow in time management. Despite the challenges, I set a goal to earn a second BS in 2 years and I did it!

Outside of classes, there were some experiences that I’m glad I added this time around. When I was studying chemical engineering, I was very busy and focused. I wanted to graduate in 4 years and move on to the next thing. This time, studying technical communication, I was still focused, but I wanted to get the most out of my classes and work on people and leadership skills. I might have been able to get a second BS in less than 2 years because nearly all my core requirements counted, but then I would have lived a much less balanced life and I probably would have been set back when the unexpected happened. (I was not expecting to be getting surgery the same day as job fair during my last semester.) I’m really glad I decided to challenge myself to learn more people and leadership skills as a Resident Assistant. I’m an introvert, but I was able to use extrovert skills when required.

I’ve come a long way in 2 years. I thought I had a good start in visual and verbal communication, but my work has gotten much more professional. I got interested in web design and was able to explore that interest in Visual Communication (TC 151), Web Design (TC 351), and my Senior Thesis (TC 422) project. Studying technical communication challenged me in different ways than chemical engineering did. I got a strong foundation in math and science studying chemical engineering and I learned more ways to express these ideas in technical communication. I’m happy to have degrees in both of my passions.

Spring 2014 Course Schedule

For my last semester working on my BS in technical communication, I’m taking:

  • Food & Culture (Anth 302)
  • CPR & First Aid
  • Painting in Acrylics
  • Intro to Digital Photography
  • Beginning Belly Dance
  • Senior Thesis (TC 422)
  • Special Topics in Science Writing (TC 491)

Fall 2013 Course Schedule

This semester, I’m taking

  • Pilates Matwork
  • Massage I
  • Intermediate Yoga
  • Elementary Spanish II (Span 114)
  • Internship (TC 321)
  • Senior Seminar (TC 420)

Alt Codes ¡Olé!

There aren’t enough keys on my keyboard! I used to look up special characters in the Character Map, but now I have found a more efficient way to add accents. If you’re using Windows, all you need is a keyboard with a number pad. Hold down the ALT key while you type in the number code on the number pad.

I searched for a table of often-used Alt Codes, and the closest one that I found to meeting my needs was from www.UsefulShortcuts.com; however, I found some errors in them and doubt the page gets updated anymore. So I made my own. Here’s what I put together for Spanish.

Alt Codes for Spanish

Punctuation

Characters
Alt 168 ¿
Alt 173 ¡

Accents

Uppercase Lowercase
Alt 0193 Á Alt 0225 á
Alt 0201 É Alt 0233 é
Alt 0205 Í Alt 0237 í
Alt 165  Ñ Alt 164  ñ
Alt 0211 Ó Alt 0243 ó
Alt 0218 Ú Alt 0250 ú
Alt 0220 Ü Alt 0252 ü

Let me know if you find this table useful and if you’d like me to create more reference tables like these.

A New Outlook on Outlook

I learned how to use Microsoft Office 2003 back in 2005 while participating in the Math Science Regional Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I’ve been using Word and Excel regularly since then, but I haven’t been able to see the usefulness of Outlook until now. I’ve had to use Outlook during summer research in summer 2008 and work in 2010-2011, but I didn’t enjoy it. I’m not sure if they’ve updated features, but I think there are a few requirements of the work environment that make Outlook useful:

  • working at a large company,
  • where everyone uses it to schedule meetings,
  • and you consistently work at the same computer.

End of Semester, Start of Internship

I’ve been super busy since I got engaged, and we haven’t even done much wedding planning yet. What’s been keeping me busy is the end of the semester. I only had one final (Spanish I), but I did have a presentation for Media Studies, a proposal for Writing Workshop, and a project for Web Design to complete. Since I volunteered to help with the department redesign earlier in the semester, I had more time to work on a brochure during Web Design class to finish off the semester of Community Service. Once I got through all that, I had a little bit of time to relax before the start of my internship.

My internship is going pretty well so far. I am getting to learn new things while using existing skills to make a meaningful contribution. One of my main projects is updating the author information page and compiling additional writing resources for authors. This internship is right up my alley.

I got engaged!

Our Engagement Rings

I wasn’t planning on posting much about my personal life, but this is big news. My fiancé is smart, funny, and cute. He’s also a good cook and really sweet. I worked with him on [a previous version] of the Shattered FX website, and we put together a placeholder for a potential business website using a ThemeShaper theme before I got really busy this semester. We’ve started a wedding website of our own that we’re not sharing until the date gets finalized. 🙂

A Day in the Life of a Technical Communication Student

Editor’s note: Samantha Miranda is an enthusiastic new member of TechWhirl’s Special Writers Unit. For many professionals in our field, the life of a technical communication student is a distant memory or perhaps even a total guess. Samantha’s chronicle of a typical day reminds us how much—and how little—has changed for university students, and how much we can learn from a novice.

technical communication student jugglerToday is a fairly busy day for me. I need to be in class and to work on assignments, I have a little bit of time devoted to work as well, and I plan to spend a little bit of time socializing in order to stay sane.

8-9:30 AM, Roll Out of Bed and Get Going

I’m more productive when I get enough sleep, so I usually get up early when I have more work to do. I eat a granola bar on my way to the library (breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but sometimes you have to work it in on the run). This morning, I have to print out an assignment written about what Media Studies chapter I’m interested in exploring then presenting and why.

9:30-10:45 AM, Media Studies

Successfully turned in the assignment. Though I chose books, I look forward to learning more about other forms of media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, video games, and more. Most people chose different chapters, but a few people ended up in groups of two. In today’s lecture and discussion, we analyzed some advertisements and touched on the social scientific and cultural approaches to media research.

11 AM-12 PM, Lunch/Homework/Reading

On good days, like today, I can spend more time on lunch than homework or reading.

12:30-1:45 PM, Professional Writing Workshop

Class today focused on a discussion of usability before we broke off into our small groups to work on our sections of a classroom technology manual–the big project for the first half of the semester.

1:45-3:30 PM, Directed Teaching

Once I complete this class, I’ll have enough credits for my education minor. The class itself involves a lot of reading and reflective essays, and I have to observe and then work up to teaching in a classroom for two hours per day for three weeks. My mentor teacher is finishing up a unit on energy and the kids were excited about preparing for tomorrow’s heat transfer lab: making ice cream.

4-5 PM, Work

I work part time at the Writing Center. Since there weren’t very many students coming in for writing tutoring (it’s still the beginning of the semester), I could work on my own homework and get started on some grading.

5-6:15 PM, Web Design

The assignment I submitted today was a group assignment to analyze a poster for the use of line, shape, texture, value, and color; and then to redesign it. Today’s lecture topic was typography. During class, I received next week’s assignment; I need to work in a group to design a poster on typography.

6:30-7:30 PM, Homework/Reading

I had to cram a lot into this timeslot since I still need to practice Spanish, continue reading chapter on usability (14 pages), and get started on the next section for Web Design on design principles (12 pages). But first, I had to discuss typography poster with my group.

8-10 PM, Dinner and Trivia

I’m lucky to see some of my close friends once a week, so competing at a weekly trivia contest is a good excuse to see some of them. Plus, most of the time my team comes in first or second!

10-11 PM, Winding Down

I managed to make more blocks of time available to work on homework tomorrow, so I’ll just finish a few things and start getting ready for bed.

Other than the all-important technical communication content, one of the things I’m learning in college is time management: I need to do the important things before they become urgent, and find the right balance between work and life. According to my friends and colleagues who have recently completed internships or graduated and become professionals, time management is an important skill for all technical communicators.

Originally published on January 30, 2013, at Tech Writer Today Magazine (http://techwhirl.com/life-technical-communication-student/).