Writing Experience

Elizabeth G FaganLifelong habits of reading and writing led me first to a BA in English (Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA & UIC, Chicago) and then to an MA in Linguistics with specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language (UIC, Chicago). I taught English part-time (ESL Instructor, Triton College, River Grove, IL) but needed a more income.

I completed a Chicago Manual of Style copyediting program (U of C, Chicago, IL) and landed a full-time position as Assistant Editor in Rand McNally’s World Atlas Division (Skokie, IL). I was promoted to Editor, then to Senior Editor. I became an award-winning book author/editor and one-time Employee of the Year.

When the internet came along in the late 1990s, I saw it an another—very exciting—form of publishing. I was operating my own writing business, EGF Consulting, at the time. I wrote user guides, then early Windows Help systems. When Microsoft moved to HTML-based help, I taught myself HTML and started writing and coding those. I obtained a Web Developer Certificate (DePaul University, Chicago, IL). Some people perceived an incongruence when I said that I wrote and I coded equally. But writing code requires as much creative thinking as any other art form.

One day, an email from Microsoft recruiting arrived. The sender asked me to become a full-time Help Author at Microsoft in Redmond, WA. I nearly fell out of my chair; it was no joke. But I was a Chicagoan married to a Chicagoan. I accepted a four-month contract to work onsite at Microsoft, where I wrote help topics and participated in usability testing for Windows 2000. It was a great experience. (Yes, I saw Bill G.)

At HSBC (Chicago, IL, full-time), I became Principal Content Developer, a position that combined writing, user experience design, and front-end code. As web teams expanded, I found my place as User Experience Architect/Designer (Walgreens.com, Deerfield, IL & Grainger.com, Lake Forest, IL, contracts).