Passion in languages and engineering ultimate combination for a technical writer.
Rabea Peter is a technical writer for Semcon in Cologne, Germany. It was not always clear for her that she would work in a technical field: she actually wanted to become a classical language teacher. This is her story of how she eventually managed to combine both of her passions: language and engineering.
“Mechanical Engineering? Are you sure? It is difficult and you would also be one of the few female students, wouldn’t you rather study something else?” That’s what people asked me after I had successfully graduated from school and was considering studying mechanical engineering.
And I actually did something else: I started studying to become a Latin teacher. Along with technology, for which my father inspired me ever since childhood, language was and is my other big passion. I have always enjoyed deciphering the structure of a language as well as the connections between and derivations from different languages to another and passing this knowledge on to other people. So becoming a language teacher seemed like the perfect choice. But something was missing: manual and practical work and tangible results.
Being a woman in a male dominated profession
I dared to turn my life around 180 degrees and turned to my other passion: technology. I completed my apprenticeship as an industrial mechanic and then graduated as a state-certified technician specialized in mechanical engineering. This journey was – as I was predicted – by no means easy.
Unfortunately, women are still outnumbered in technical professions. Oftentimes, women do not dare to approach “male dominated areas” out of fear of not being taken seriously or having to prove themselves permanently based on their gender. Despite having the same qualifications. I had to face these problems more than once but they also taught me not to be intimidated or let myself get down.
During my training as a state-certified technician, I soon noticed that I was missing dealing with language, so I looked for professions that combine technology and language and I came across the profession of a technical writer. Fortunately for me, Semcon was looking for new employees in Technical Writing at that time. However, what particularly impressed me were the Semcon values: social diversity, gender balance, cooperation in teams and with customers, inspiration and fun at work. As soon as I read this, I immediately thought “I want to work here!” And that hasn’t changed since.
My job as a technical writer
My job as a technical writer at Semcon is to compile system maintenance instructions for rail vehicles, which means that I create easy-to-understand work instructions for installing and removing components and for testing entire systems (e.g. brake systems). To do so, I filter the relevant information out of 3D models, drawings and piping diagrams, which I then summarize as briefly and simply as possible in work instructions. These work instructions are then combined in the system maintenance instruction and made available to the maintenance staff on site. Depending on the costumer they are working for, the technical writers have different tasks, but in general the overall task is to translate complex technical data into simple German (or English). That is why enthusiasm for technology and affinity for languages are basic requirements for this profession.
In addition to this task, I am going to work as a trainer, which means that I will be giving training courses for the maintenance staff at the customer’s location. This also means that you have to take a close look at the corresponding vehicle in advance and that you can possibly install and remove components, since components that may be in the way are often not shown on drawings. These inspections on the vehicle are very helpful for the daily work when writing work instructions and for promoting contact with the customer. In the beginning, experienced trainers are accompanied until you are able to take over small sections of their training which ultimately leads to giving independent training courses.
Women: Go for it!
Being a woman with an unusual background was never a problem at Semcon. On the contrary – more and more I come across the opinion that a somewhat exotic CV does not represent a lack of stamina but rather the courage to change, adaptability and a strong will. Therefore my message to all women is: Go for it! We need more women in technology to bring in new ideas and to ensure diversity in teams whose teamwork ultimately leads to more successful work.
Name: Rabea Peter
Title: Technical writer
Education: industrial mechanic, State-certified technician in mechanical engineering
Worked at Semcon since: August 2020
I have most fun at work when I…: am entrusted with new and challenging tasks that require collaboration with colleagues and when the end result exceeds both the team’s and costumer’s expectations.
About Semcon Stories
A series of articles for everyone wondering what it’s like to work at Semcon. With Semcon Stories our employees get to highlight certain exciting aspects of their jobs.