Ashley, a Technical Writer-Editor from Washington, D.C.

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Ashley, a Technical Writer-Editor from Washington, D.C.

Ashley, can you tell us more about your background and professional experience?

I’ve been a writer all my life, but I have been a 9-5 technical writer/editor for over 7 years. My first position as a writer was a Report Writer/Document Specialist for Old Dominion University. From that, I parlayed that into getting into technical writing (documenting program/project charters, concepts of operations, standards of operations, the like). After that I got into government consulting work that required be cleared to work on the defense project/program side of things. The documentation for that is interesting.

 

How would you explain your job title to a child?

I am a writer-editor who creates documents that aid businesses, federal government, and the United States' military in running smoother.

 

I would say, anyone trying to pursue a career in Corporate America: jazz your resume up to fit the career narrative you want.
— Ashley
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What were important steps you had to take in order to be at your current position?

I would say take business process and methodology courses (see training for Agile, ITIL, Lean Six Sigma), that way you are not only being the writer you can also teach and train on the subject matter and thus become a Subject Matter Expert (SME). With that, you become invaluable and critical to the business/organization’s functionality and efficiency. Also learn another trade, such as project management or some other skill. This is paramount because people are often perplexed about on what exactly a Tech Writer can do. However, when you explain not only will I document your processes or technology, but I will train and manage the project you're wanting to deploy or start up, it seems like people can digest your role, compensation, and title a little easier. A lot of people told me, eons ago, that tech writing is NOT lucrative and you’ll never make more than this or that. But I am proud to say that I have made a 9 year career from writing for a living, in the freelance and Corporate America/consulting industries, and it’s been a blast. I’ve been well/competitively compensated, and learned the art of negotiation. I've also temped and never interned; looking back I felt it aided my transition in becoming a government consultant/contractor.

Do you know the percentage of black women working in your field, if so how much?

I am not entirely sure. I would guess less than 15%, it’s really a white man’s (and maybe white women’s) game in that regard. But it’s not impossible to break. Perseverance, endurance, and even resilience (when running into difficult managers or clients) and you’ll go far.

What challenges have you experienced in the workplace?

Being a black woman, the challenges in the workplace are endless. Micro-aggression is high, as in people initially not believing you are qualified for the job and making comments as such. But mostly it can melt away once your produce an immaculate form or document that they never could conceptualize on their own without your skill. Essentially as a woman and person of color, I always feel like I’m forever proving myself and trying to rise above any stereotypes that others (mostly men, non-black people of color (POC), and white people) have. As far as appearance, I keep it strictly professional always even on Friday, no jeans or casual for me. But regarding hair, I wear my natural or get (work appropriately) ‘wiggy with it’. I always found white people or other non-black POCs were intrigued with natural hair especially in the workplace, but I just carry it like hey it’s what’s grows in my head nothing to see here. My hair choices are never about making a statement.

What advice would you give someone trying to pursue your CAREER or any related career?

I would say, anyone trying to pursue a career in Corporate America or wherever: jazz your resume up to fit the career narrative you want to socialize, always dress professional (not too glitzy), confidence in your hustle and ability, research into obtaining any certifications and taking courses to beef up technical knowledge, and lastly look at the industries that you want to be in and the cities for it --- you may need to move to the metropolitan areas.

What are some fun facts about yourself?

In 2014, founded a freelancer writing company, Blue Geisha Documentation LLC, specializing in developing-editing creative content.

I'm also an artist/illustrated and founder of the Instagram page @BlackGirlWhoDoodles (est. 2015)

 

Ashley is a Technical Writer-Editor and Freelance Writer. She works for Leidos in Washington, DC. She attended College Dominion University and graduated with a degree in Political Science & International Relations. 
Founder of Blue Geisha Documentation, LLC, she provides documentation: development, restructuring (revamp), formatting, and quality control.
She is a trained professional writer/editor with experience in the academia, non-profit, corporate, military, state government, and federal government environment, bringing 7-9 years of research, analysis, developing documentation, and quality control.

If you would like to contact Ashley her email is Bluegeishadocllc@gmail.com.

I think that Black women have stepped into a new role that no one was accustomed to us being in, leadership.
— Semirra M. Long

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