STC Student Membership


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STC Student Membership

  1. 1. STC Student Membership:Challenges,Opportunities,and BenefitsBy Craig Baehr and Sally Henschel |STC Academic SIGWhen students join the Societyfor Technical Communication, oneof the many benefits they gain ismembership in STC communities,which includes membership in a studentchapter, as well as a professional chapterand special interest group (SIG). Inthis article, we discuss some of thebenefits and opportunities for studentmembers of STC, discuss challengesfaced by student chapters, outline thesteps for creating a new chapter, andoffer suggestions for maintaining andsupporting a student chapter.BenefitsFor students, membership in STCand a student chapter provides manybenefits and a few challenges. Asindividuals, student members receiveaccess to training resources, joband salary resources, professionalpublications, and several awardsand competitions. As members ofa student chapter, whether at theirown institutions or virtually throughparticipation with students at othercolleges and universities, studentsare provided valuable leadership andnetworking opportunities.Leadership Opportunities. STCprovides support for chapters basedon membership levels, funds whichcan be used for chapter events andinitiatives. Students find belonging toand participating in a student chapterallows them to get involved in activitiesand projects related to their careerinterest, to network with other studentsand professionals, and to hone theircommunication and leadership skills.Networking. There are manyavenues for networking within STC.As noted, student membershipincludes membership in a studentchapter, a geographic chapter, anda SIG, each of which offers an arrayof monthly meetings, discussiongroups, newsletters, and/or day-to-daysupport. The MySTC Network allowsmembers to interact with their fellowSTC members through a selectionof integrated communications tools.In addition, the STC TechnicalCommunication Summit providesstudents a valuable opportunity tonetwork with professionals. At theannual event, recognized authoritiesin the technical communicationfield present and participate in paneldiscussions. Student members canapply to volunteer to work the Summitand have the conference fee waived.In addition, each community receivesone free registration to the Summit.Training. Each month, STC offersa series of live and recorded webinars,seminars, and online conferences ontopics of interest to technical commu-nicators, and students can enroll fora reduced rate. In addition, currentlythere are over 70 free, on-demand,archived seminars available formembers.Publications. Student membershipprovides online access to two technicalcommunication publications:44 Technical Communication. Peer-reviewed and published quarterly,the journal showcases the workof noteworthy writers in the field,and includes both quantitativeand qualitative research and bookreviews. 44 Intercom. Published monthly, themagazine includes articles aboutimportant topics in technicalcommunication, and providespractical examples and applica-tions of technical communica-tion useful for professionaldevelopment.Job Resources. STC providesmembers with a Job Bank and CareerCenter where they can search forcareer opportunities with businessesand organizations from around theworld. Employers can post jobs andreview résumés, and members canpost résumés, search the job listings,and create personal job alerts to letthem know when jobs of interest areavailable. In addition to identifyingcareer opportunities, memberscan access resources designedto help technical communica-tors throughout their careers. Forexample, the STC Salary Database,based on the U.S. Department of LaborStatistics, allows members to researchand compare their compensation levels.Additional OpportunitiesIn addition to the benefits ofmembership, there are many“My time with the chapter has taught me a greatdeal about networking, marketing, public relations,and job-hunting. Being a part of a student chapterprovides you with multiple opportunities to getinvolved on campus and looks great on a resume!”—Eric Johnson, STC Student Chapter President,Michigan Technological
  2. 2. opportunities to contribute to STC’sinformation resources, compete incontests, and receive recognition forone’s efforts.Body of Knowledge (BoK).The STC Body of Knowledge is awiki-based information resourceportal with articles on a range oftopics on the profession contributedby technical communicators. TheBoK serves as both an informationresource and an opportunity tocontribute new content. Registeredusers can author new content, addto or edit existing content, and evencomment on pages. The BoK has afive-year history and as an evolvingcollection of information resources,it is continually updated with newinformation on the profession.Competitions. STC offers compe-titions to evaluate professionaltechnical communication in differentmedia. In addition to participat-ing in competitions hosted by localgeographic communities, studentscan participate in the Academic SIGStudent Poster Competition. Selectedstudents present their researchposters, on-site or virtually, at the STCSummit each spring.Recognition. Membership in STCprovides students additional opportu-nities for recognition at the individual,academic, and community level:44 Distinguished Service Award forStudents (DSAS)44 Distinguished SIG Service Award(DSSA)44 Sigma Tau Chi (STX), whichrecognizes students in baccalaure-ate or graduate programs44 Alpha Sigma (AS), whichrecognizes students in two-year orcertificate programs44 Community Achievement Award44 Community Pacesetter AwardChallenges Faced by StudentChaptersIn a recent informal survey of studentmembers, students reported severalchallenges faced by their chapters:Turnover in Leadership andMembership. Turnover due tograduations or relocations canbring chapter activity to a halt. Newstudent leaders often are not awareof what forms they need to submitto STC each year to remain activeand receive funding (see Suggestionsand Guidelines for Student Chaptersand Their Leadership), nor dothey have access to a current list ofstudent members in the area. STC hasmade improvements in the last year,consolidating forms and making themavailable on the Leadership ResourcesWeb page, and providing onlineaccess to membership lists. Leadersalso struggle to recruit new membersand keep all members interested andinvolved.Planning Events and Activities.Engaging student members in chapterevents and planning frequent,interesting meetings can be achallenge. Successful chapters havelearned that everything a chapterdoes needs not to be local: theynetwork with other chapters, SIGs,or STC members to cohost events,meetings, and guest speakers.Access to Chapter Meetings. Manystudent members do not have access toa student chapter at their colleges orwork extended hours, which makes itdifficult for them to attend meetings.Consequently, student chapters findthey need to reach out, recruit, andaccommodate both an onsite and anonline population of students. Chapterscan use online meeting spaces, suchas AdobeConnect or GoToMeeting,to host events so online students orothers unable to attend a meeting canparticipate from a distance.Suggestions and Guidelinesfor Student Chapters andTheir LeadershipIdeally, chapter leaders need to focustheir efforts on activities and buildingthe chapter, and if possible, spendless time cutting through red tape.Since chapter sponsors and officerstransition, the latter more than theformer in most cases, chapters need“STC is my gateway to the technical writercommunity. You get to meet many people fromwhom there is a lot to learn. This can lead tojobs, as can the actual job post website, to whichmembership gains you access. These are very muchworth it for the great discounted student price.” —Razvan Ungureanu, STC Alberta“I had been looking for a technical writinginternship for weeks, but was unable to find asingle one through my school or through jobslisted elsewhere in the Denver area. Becauseof my student membership, I found theperfect internship for me! … In the technicalcommunication industry, one that valuesexperience as much as education, I know I amvery fortunate to have this internship/job, and itwouldn’t have happened without the STC!”—Claire H. Petras, STC Student Member, Rocky Mountain Chapter,University of Colorado DenverJanuary 201332SOCIETY PAGES
  3. 3. to keep the process of updating andreporting simple, and use consistentchannels for communication—aone-stop shop so those who pickup the baton can get up to speedmore quickly in their new roles andduties. Streamlining also will allowthe chapters to focus on the mostimportant aspects for students:engaging in activities that promotetheir understanding of issues inthe field, and getting to know theircolleagues and fellow members.Other suggestions for keepingchapters healthy and membersengaged:44 Use social media (blogs, Facebook,Twitter, etc.) to engage membershipwithin a chapter or community44 Recruit students in other, butrelated, majors on your own campus44 Invite students who do not have astudent chapter on their campus toparticipate with yours44 Remind students that the reducedstudent membership amounts toonly $6.25 a month (i.e., $75 year)44 Network between other chaptersand SIGs44 Consider submitting a budgetto receive funding for chapteractivities44 Solicit senior STC members tovolunteer to speak at chaptermeetings44 Include STC’s free, on-demand,archived seminars in meetings44 Participate at the Summit:volunteer to work, attend the socials44 Participate in group activitiesat local schools, businesses, andcommunities44 Be aware of STC awards, recog-nitions, and competitions andencourage members to enter44 Keep members involved aftergraduation: invite them to presentat chapter meetings and to mentornew studentsGetting Started with aStudent ChapterNot every institution has a studentchapter, but a group of highlymotivated student members may beinterested in the possibility of creatingand managing one. The good news isthere is no fee for starting a chapterand the process for getting onestarted is as follows:1. Have a minimum of five studentmembers of STC2. Follow guidelines for creatinga student organization on yourcampus3. Find a campus-related faculty orstaff advisor4. Review Leadership Resources onthe STC website: Log into MySTC,on the menu under MySTC,Resources, click LeadershipResources5. Complete and submit a ChapterPetition (found on the LeadershipResources page) with the namesof the chapter members to STC atcommunities@stc.org6. After the chapter has beenestablished, submit the followingdocuments to STC:a. List of leadership: name, position,and contact informationb. U.S. Student Chapter Bylaws(see Leadership Resources page)c. Budget (optional, usually duein October, and found onLeadership Resources page)7. Create a bank account andaccounting system (optional). Thiswill be done with the EIN providedafter the STC Board approves thechapter formation.Maintaining a SuccessfulStudent ChapterA highly significant factor to successis planning events that engage yourchapter’s members and help themnetwork and grow as technicalcommunicators. There are also othermaintenance tasks that come with theresponsibility of a healthy chapter.Review and follow U.S. laws andregulations for not-for-profit corpora-tions (federal, state, and local). Onthe Leadership Resources page, read“Running a Community: MinimumLegal and Financial Requirements.”Familiarize yourself with the “ChapterLeaders Getting Started” guide alsoon the Leadership Resources page.Periodically review your chapterbylaws and be sure they conformwith provisions in the model studentchapter bylaws template. Annuallyupdate your leadership list (i.e., name,position, and contact information)and send to those chapters interested inseeking STC funding support, writeand submit an annual budget (onthe Leadership Resources page, clickCommunity Finances). Submit thechapter budget in October for Januarydistribution. Funding is based onmembership levels as of 31 August ofeach year. The chapter treasurer mustsubmit an estimate of the chapterexpenses (a budget) based on projectedactivities for the year. Also keep your eyeout for Society announcements aboutbudgeting deadlines and workshopswhen available.Success comes from consistenteffort and engagement, but with amotivated group of students, the goodnews is you can share thework involved in running, and thebenefits of belonging to, an STCstudent chapter. gi“One of our biggest challenges has been spreadingthe word about the organization to includeother related majors.… I have learned that theopportunities STC provides are not exclusive toone major or concentration, but can give everyoneinterested the skills they need to succeed in arapidly advancing field of technology.”—Victoria Starke, STC Student Chapter President,James Madison