Translating for all readers
In an inclusive global society, translation is more than just moving from one language to the next. Technical writer Eden Olena makes sure information is attainable for a wide variety of readers.
“You can think of technical writers as translators between the technical and non-technical folks. We bridge the gap so everyone’s on the same page with the information that’s being communicated.”
Translation is an important part of Eden Olena’s career. She’s a technical writer at TransUnion in Chicago with a background in foreign languages. Her job is to translate complex technical information for a wide variety of readers.
“I enjoy helping people understand information and finding new ways to present information to my audience. I’ve always loved writing, so I’m thrilled that I get to do it for a living.”
A natural transition, but experience needed
In college, she studied biblical languages. She studied Hebrew and Greek as a major and French for her concentration. After graduating with her BA in languages, she had a degree but no clear career path.
“I took a year off after undergrad to figure out what I wanted to do, and during that time I did a little freelance editing for another local university.”
Writing professionally was a natural transition for her, but she didn’t have the experience she needed to be hired for a full-time position. She applied to Missouri State’s professional writing program and also for a graduate assistantship that would offset the cost of her education. Besides being local, Missouri State’s program stood out from other universities.
“Missouri State’s technical writing program had a great job placement rate, so I decided to apply and see where it went.”
During grad school, Eden taught writing courses, worked in the Writing Center as a tutor, and participated in an internship. She relied on the language-learning skills mastered during her undergraduate degree to excel in the technical writing program. The MA program also required language studies, so she was already ahead when she needed to apply those skills again.
“It helped me learn new languages like HTML and CSS, and even the phonetic alphabet!”
Previewing her job field
Learning HTML and CSS was important to her online-writing focused studies.
Eden wrote a thesis she’s very proud of, by working with Dr. Lyn Gattis.
The thesis focused on accessible writing, concentrating on universal design in print and online writing. Physical accessibility refers to things like making sure buildings have ramps, elevators, and handrails. Accessibility improves the quality of a place being reached, entered, and used. Digital accessibility does the same, but in a different way.
“There have been so many strides in accessibility even in the last five years, and we all benefit from things like being able to zoom in on a screen, being able to listen to audio information, or writing using hands-free technology.”
As an extension of a course taken with Dr. Gattis, her thesis advisor, Eden was an intern at Abilities First, which is a Greene County resource center for people with developmental disabilities. She wrote procedural manuals and marketing materials.
“It was helpful not only to have the experience of writing for a company, but also to see what a technical writing job could look like after I graduated.”
Working in Chicago
Now, she lives in Chicago and works for TransUnion, writing all kinds of technical documentation. She loves her career field and also the great culture that Chicago has to offer. And, as an avid reader she’s found a circle of like-minded friends through a book club, called the Feminist Literary Society of Chicago.
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