Being president of the student organization UCF Future Technical Communicators, a full-time technical communications student and a full-time Lockheed Martin employee is a heavy load, but for Andrea Romero, it’s worth it.
On a typical weekday, she’s at Lockheed Martin by 6:30 a.m., where she is a technical writer and developer contractor. In the afternoon, she’s back at UCF, where she finishes up her homework, attends her technical communication classes, and presides over the student organization Future Technical Communicators (FTC). “It’s challenging, but I like it,” she says. “My favorite part of working at Lockheed Martin is that every day is different.”
Romero began at UCF as an information technology major, but found she could blend her passions of writing and technology in the technical communication program offered by the Department of English. The program has offered her numerous opportunities, and she’s been able to carve a path for herself in the technical writing industry — a feat she says wouldn’t have been possible without FTC.
FTC provides future technical communicators at UCF with career guidance and partners with the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the world’s largest technical communication organization, to offer a mentorship program for technical communication students like Romero. As president of FTC, Romero has not only helped grow the program, but has been a mentee herself.
“My mentor, Dan Voss, was a retired technical writer at Lockheed Martin. He was my number one motivator the whole year,” says Romero. “He got me involved in the STC community, which gave me the opportunity to meet other professionals in the technical writing field and write six different publications.”
It was also through FTC that Romero learned about the Lockheed Martin College Work Experience Program, which places full-time UCF students in year-round, paid positions at the global security and aerospace firm. Last year, Romero did technical writing and development as part of the program, which led to Lockheed Martin offering her the full-time position she has today. Of course, she accepted. She had fallen in love with the company’s culture. “Everyone there is so open to diversity and accepting of new people,” she says.
Romero has accomplished so much ahead of her graduation in spring 2019, but it took time for her to adjust to the college experience. “I had to learn to open up my personal bubble,” says Romero. “Being social and opening yourself up to new environments and challenges is the best advice I can give to someone wanting to be a technical writer.”
Joining FTC is an essential step into the technical writing world, she says. Along with the mentorship program, FTC brings Lockheed Martin employees to UCF to give lectures on breaking into the technical writing field and the different types of opportunities that exist for technical communication majors. “Everyone does something different in the field,” Romero says. “You could be doing multimedia engineering, writing manuals, web design — the lectures FTC organizes introduce students to all the different routes they could take.”
When asked about the best thing students can gain from joining FTC, Romero put it simply: “A job! A lot of the people that we network with were members of FTC or STC prior to working in the field. And last year, all five FTC officers were employed by Lockheed Martin.”
The English – Technical Communication, B.A. prepares students to fill the communication needs of the business and scientific community. Students learn how to apply the principles of written, spoken, and visual communication to a wide variety of situations, using state-of-the-art software and hardware in the departmental Technical Writing Laboratory.