Hi Slackergirl. I’m glad I could help a little, and your reply certainly cleared up a few things.
Here’s something you could try. Here in the UK, I wrote a nice email to Adobe (UK branch) saying I was evaluating whether to buy Page- or Frame-maker, and that given the significant outlay either way, I was realy looking for some sort of try-before-you-buy deal (all of this was true, incidentally). They very kindly wrote back offering me a free sampler disk which would allow me to evaluate both products. I guess there was some sort of auto expiry protection on it. Whatever, you could always try the same tack with Adobe at your end.
You could use a version of my story, which happened to be true at the time, or you could just come clean and explain that you are going to be a torch-bearer for Adobe prodcuts in your new job, but it would help both you AND THEM if you could have the 30 day sampler version to load on your home PC, and get the hang of it.
See what they say!
Interesting about the (good) job specs all stipulating Framemaker. In my experience, and perhaps yours as well, what people say on job specs and what you REALLY need to do the job are like Mercury and Pluto. It was so weird when I first started contracting. I was hoping that my versatility, my knowledge of so many different packages, would be a real asset. Hah! Microsoft Word every time. The thing is, people want something they themselves can tinker with or maintain without being locked into using my (immensely valuable!) services. He who pays the piper picks the tune.
Health insurance. Well, as you probably also know, we Brits can never understand head nor tail of your health system over there. But just a pointer for the future. If you go the self-employed freelance route, you normally set up your own private limited company, and you (as your company) could probably get health insurance even if you (as an individual) coud not. But don’t worry about this for now - it’s just an option to look into later on. There may be so many difference either side of the pond that I can’t offer any meaningful advice on this point anyway!
Oh, and if you DO get yourself nicely settled as a tech scribe, may I suggest you do yourself a couple of favours?
(1) Keep looking around for freelance work to do ‘on the side’. There is TONS of it. We live in an age where most people hate writing work, especially when whatever they write is going to be paraded in front of the world. You can clean up! And in this day and age, when job security is a mirage, it’s nice to build up your own little clump of ‘private’ clients.
(2) Teach yourself all you can about non-print non-paper documentation. Everything to do with web, java, on-line help, scripting etc. is your future, more fun and challenging than paper-based stuff, and carries a higher fee.