From the Writer’s Desk: My first few weeks at the OED

Musings from the VT Office of Economic Development’s newest staffer and sole technical writer


Coming into the Office of Economic Development as a technical writer with no background in economic development means I have had a bit of learning to do since starting on Feb. 12. The biggest challenge so far has simply been to understand all of the acronyms everyone throws around so effortlessly – and there are so many acronyms! Luckily, everyone here has been open to my incessant questions, and I’m learning something new about the work they do in this office every day.

So, a little about me: my name is Erica Corder, and I’m a creative writing and political science student at Tech. I’m set to graduate in May, and in the meantime I’ve been editor-in-chief of The Pylon, a brand new local publication I’ve been fortunate to have a hand in creating. If you can’t tell by now, I love to write, so when I saw a call for technical writers sent out over the VT English listserv, I immediately sent in my resume.

When I was hired a few weeks later, the position of technical writer at the OED did not previously exist. This means I had no shoes to fill – instead, I have to actually make the shoes. My role so far has been multifaceted: I’m constantly writing about the great work the office does and preparing stories for publication, checking our office’s Twitter feed, scouring the Internet for interesting economic development news to share, and looking for ways to market our office to the community and beyond.

In order to accomplish all of these tasks, I’ve had to figure out exactly what it is the OED does. It may sound simple, but I’ve realized since starting that the OED wears many hats, so it’s hard to pinpoint a solid definition of the work they do. They juggle projects of all different shapes and sizes: one week they’re performing an economic impact analysis of Virginia Tech football (it’s a hefty $69 million, if you wanted to know) – the next, they’re creating baselines for measuring the Roanoke-Blacksburg entrepreneur ecosystems with a grant from the prestigious Kauffman Foundation, based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rather than being overwhelmed with all of these different projects, as a writer I’ve really appreciated the quantity and variety of them. For one thing, it keeps my job interesting – I’m working on different stories and learning about how the OED is helping yet another entrepreneur, organization, or company every time I clock in for work. What’s more, it keeps me employed! (And I quite like having this job.) The OED will only continue to take on more and more projects, which means I’ll continue writing all about them. I’m looking forward to it, and I can’t wait to share those stories with you.

Until next time,

Erica Corder

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