Why I re-upped with STC

I just renewed my membership in the Society for Technical Communication (STC) for the 33rd straight year. It was an easy decision. Here’s why.

STC logoWhen I joined STC, in the days before the Internet, it was the forum for discussing and learning about technical communication. If you wanted the best articles, you had to read Intercom and Technical Communication — and to read them, you had to be a member. STC’s annual conference was the only place to hear presentations by influential professionals from around the world — and then meet those people one on one.

I also lived in a place that had a vibrant STC chapter, offering lots of worthwile activities and allowing me to meet great people.

Over time, I became involved as a volunteer, as a leader in my chapter, and even as a member of the STC board of directors. In those roles I developed leadership and management skills while working closely with top professionals from all over the world.

STC also saw fit to recogize me as a Fellow, which means more to me than any other professional honor I’ve received.

But that’s the past.

Today, STC’s publications still deliver great content for practitioners and researchers. But I can get great content from other sources, and most of it is free on the web.

Today, the STC Summit is still an outstanding conference. But I can pick from several other conferences that rival it in size and quality.

Today, my chapter still offers great activities and still contains great people. But I can attend those activities, and meet those people, without being a member.

So why do I decide, year after year, to continue as an STC member? STC remains the preeminent organization for advancing our profession through research and through the exchange of information. It’s still home to many of the top people in our profession — people who exemplify what it means to be a technical communicator, people who have the vision to point us to the future and the wisdom to show us the way.

I want to support all of that. I love being a part of it. That’s why I re-upped.

Please use the Comments section to tell me what you think.

12 thoughts on “Why I re-upped with STC

  1. TechCommGeekMom

    Great commentary, Larry! This will be my third (or maybe my fourth?) year of being in the STC, so I’m WAAAAY behind your experience. But based on what you’ve said, which is what I’ve experienced–there’s more than one resource out there in this day and age to get tech comm information–I find this to be a great organization to truly promote the needs and accomplishments of technical communicators. I’m glad to be part of the organization and in time, I hope to achieve many of the same accomplishments you have with my contribution to the organization.

    1. Larry Kunz Post author

      Thanks, Danielle. I’m glad you mentioned how STC shines light on both the needs and the accomplishments of the people in our profession. Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Neal Kaplan

    I’m glad that STC exists, but I’ve never been quite convinced enough to join. The fee scares me off: it looks like you need to pay $260/year, minimum, to get any value out of it (base price + one chapter + one SIG). The conferences are far away, meaning another expense (and Ohio? Really?).

    And as you say, I don’t need to be a member these days to get great info. I’ve already got half a dozen meetup groups that I don’t have time to attend. So I keep getting *very* close to joining STC (for almost 20 years now), but I balk at actually laying down the cash for uncertain returns. I just need to do it: join for a year and see what I get. Although I’m afraid I’ll be mocked as a newbie!

    1. Larry Kunz Post author

      I appreciate your candor, Neal. Yep: You just need to try it for a year and see what happens. We’d love to have you….And, far from being derided as a newbie, I think you’ll find that STC appreciates the perspectives and insights that its newest members bring.

      1. Neal Kaplan

        Thanks, Larry. This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” sort of things. I’m always afraid of getting called out by “real” technical writers.

        Plus, I’m jealous of people who work for companies that pay to send them to conferences!

  3. Vinish Garg (@vingar)

    Larry, whether STC membership is value for money depends on what we seek from STC and how we are ready to contribute to the community. I feel that STC has value for everybody unless one thinks that “I have nothing to gain and I have derived maximum value from STC in the past, and I cannot really commit to contribute and payback due to whatever reasons’.

    For example, a beginner who is looking to learning opportunities and networking may find STC very useful. A professional at mid-level career may find speaking and business opportunities when we network. Likewise, an experienced professional can associate with STC to pay back, to help address the known concerns by constructive feedback and comments.

    I joined STC in 2008, and I renew it every year. In first 2-3 years, my priority was learning opportunities such as best practices, standards, tools and processes. Of late, the priority is networking for business leads too, and knowledge sharing opportunities.

    I wrote a detailed post at thecontentwrangler in 2013, on STC value and benefits, at: http://thecontentwrangler.com/2013/10/28/stc-membership-cost-benefits-and-value/

    1. Larry Kunz Post author

      Thanks, Vinish. I appreciate your pointing out that STC offers different kinds of benefits for people in different stages of their careers, and I commend your Content Wrangler article to everyone.

  4. Lori Meyer

    Thanks for sharing your reflections on staying with STC, Larry. I completed my 30th anniversary as an STC member a couple of months ago. I got my start in web development as an STC chapter volunteer, I’ve grown professionally from the opportunities to build my leadership skills, and I’ve met people who continue to be valued colleagues and treasured friends. I always appreciate the opportunity to share how STC has made a positive difference for me, and I encourage others to do the same. You might enjoy this piece I did earlier this year on our East Bay Chapter website: http://ebstc.org/Shout-It-Out.html.

  5. stevefjong

    All organizations need members (and dues revenue) to provide services, so thanks for helping to keep STC strong! (I re-upped too, for similar reasons.)

    The generation currently aging out of the workforce has been notorious for asking associations “what’s in it for me?” The generation currently entering the workforce has a very different attitude. They ask “how are you making the world a better place?” As it happens, STC has a good answer: we help members and practitioners explain things, make the complex clear, and help users succeed in their tasks and get their money’s worth from their stuff. As today’s practitioners discover how STC can help them make the world a better place, I think they will join us.

    1. Larry Kunz Post author

      Thanks, Steve. I appreciate your insight into the different perspectives of each generation, especially since it comes from someone who’s done so much to make STC — and the world — a better place.

  6. Pingback: STC: Growing in Numbers and Relevance | Leading Technical Communication

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