My first week with kothes

Student trainee Heiner Ahrens talks about his early experiences in the world of technical documentation.

Inside

On my first day as a student trainee with the kothes editorial office, both myself and other new colleagues received a warm welcome in Kempen. We were shown around the offices and introduced to all the colleagues: lots of new faces, and lots of new names. Everyone was very friendly and excited about the new colleagues. We spent our first few days taking training courses and finding our way around. Our first week was very instructive. It began with a personal introduction by the head of our department and introductory meetings with management and the employee representative. Everyone was happy to help us, showing us how to use the coffee machine and answering our questions.

I was impressed that everyone was treated the same, regardless of their experience or future post. Editors on permanent contracts, interns working towards their tekom certification and student trainees working 20 hours a week while attending university, all were given the same training and taught the same knowledge.

We were introduced to the most important tool in a technical editor’s daily work. A course on the basic principles of technical documentation and an introduction to risk assessments rounded off our first week.

Have you worked on any projects yet?

Our customers demand that we editors (and the services we provide) are of the highest standard. But that is exactly what we want to do: challenging editorial work. So we were pleased that we were immediately able to get to know the tools that the editorial office uses every day. We were given test tasks as well as training, and we were even allowed to create our own first manual – which was of course a test project for us to experiment with. As a final product, we were supposed to create an operating manual for an air purifier. The air purifier was placed in the middle of the room, so we were able to stay close to the product at all times. The more we experimented, the more we realised how exciting this work can be and how many ways there are to finally achieve our goals.

During the first few weeks we also learned how to conduct research into standards, how to behave in meetings with customers and how to take pictures in order to create usable images in manuals, as well as being introduced to internal quality management; a lot of knowledge that needs to be applied.

As soon as we had created the manual for the air purifier, we moved on to live projects. Creating software documentation sounded like a lot of work for a first attempt. And it was; I was tasked with creating the first part of the documentation independently. My project colleagues were always helpful, and I was able to learn a lot. Working on this project, I saw how experienced colleagues handle various situations and react to customers. I was particularly interested in the challenge of coordinating with colleagues at other branches (in my case it was Bremen and Braunschweig).

How do you see your future at kothes?

Now that I have been involved in a few projects, I will be given additional opportunities to help my colleagues with their current projects when they need an extra hand. And I am always ready to perform tasks that call for manual skills or that are left undone by colleagues too busy with their project work.

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