Dana

Intern – Summer 2019
LabVIEW Documentation

Education

Spring Hill College – B.S. in Marketing and Management
Texas Tech –  M.A. in Technical Communication


The Internship

How did you find out about this internship?

While I was scrambling for jobs during the spring semester, I was sitting in the Texas Tech UX research lab with the STC student chapter president and talking with her about how it can be very difficult to find an internship or a job in which you feel fully qualified when you have only completed half of your course work. Upon telling her that, she suggested that I go check out NI because they were coming for a campus visit soon and were offering interviews. After doing that, I sat in on one of their job talks, enjoyed what I heard, and then immediately applied.

What was the first week of the internship like?

It was very intimidating, a bit exhausting, but very very fun at the same time. There was great energy because of Tim Krenz, Rudi, and all the other staff members for the internship. But it was a huge learning curve at the same time. I felt that along the way I was constantly presented with information that would help me throughout the process whether it was from my supervisor, mentor, manager, whomever.

What NI-wide intern activities happened during that week?

I think the natural answer would be the field day, but I would have to go with the development series that Tim put together. I really appreciated that because it gave a little bit more context to what the different layers are to NI. At face value yes we’re a tech company – we’re a big tech company – but there’s so much more that goes into it as far as investing in employees goes and I think that development series was really great. From diversity and inclusion to speaking with the CEO Alex Davern it’s been really really wonderful to see what opportunities are here at NI.

The Team

What projects did you work on during your internship?

The formal project I was assigned was creating a guided help lesson in LabVIEW NXG. The guided help is about G Types, and I’m supposed to help the user know what it is, how to use it, when it is most efficient to use. I finished that around week five of my internship, so since then I’ve been working on things that I’m interested in exploring. Specifically usability, content usability, user experience research, and seeing how to integrate that into our writer workflow.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been strategizing and researching our current writer workflow to see how we can mitigate some pain points that are found within the review process. A lot of that can come from incorporating usability testing, so I’m trying to make a case for more usability testing for technical writers.

I’ve also worked on CARs, table of contents topics, and a variety of buddy reviews and whatnot.

What skills have you practiced or improved through your project work?

This is cheesy, but I would say allowing for my curiosity to drive where I go do research. While I was completing my project, I was curious about how I could naturally incorporate that usability testing within my own writer workflow. So I chatted with a couple of writers and asked them to sit in on my content usability test while I was writing that guided help. That curiosity allowed me to start networking with other people, reaching out to interaction designers and UX managers. It’s helped me to better understand the breadth of NI’s quality in its work, expectations for its employees, and desires for what they are providing to their customers.

Collaboration is another skill set that I’ve worked on. Inevitably you can feel like you’re in a silo as a writer, but being on this team I’ve learned to reach out and ask questions. I’ve learned to reach out to other teams as well because otherwise you aren’t going to get any work done if you just stay in your own narrow vortex.

Can you describe how you have interacted with your team/supervisor throughout your internship?

I meet formally with my supervisor once a week, but I speak with her just about every single day via Teams or email, or just in person. To be successful with your projects, or with writing in general,  you need that feedback. As far as my team goes, one member of the team has written a guided help so I’ve been in constant communication with her to mitigate a lot of the pain points that come up.

Outside of that, I’ve just enjoyed sitting with my team at lunch, going on walks with them, enjoying team time (when we have lunch every Wednesday and talk about anything except for work for a nice hour). There’s been a lot of bonding over the past 10 weeks, and that’s even happened with people outside of my team as well.

What have you enjoyed most about the team (or project) you worked on?

As far as the project, it’s been a great challenge. And I mean great in a very positive way. This is my first internship with a tech company. This is my first real internship within the industry. I’ve liked that it has challenged my technological intelligence and comfort with discomfort when learning new software and systems. I’ve really liked that because in general I like learning new things. I’ve gotten really excited along the way.

As far as working with the team, I’ve appreciated how everyone has different backgrounds and seeing where that allows people to have certain specialties related to certain types of documentation or different styles to approaching a piece of work. I think that has allowed for better communication, collaboration, and fixing problems more quickly because we do not have to deal with group think.

The Company, Campus, and City

Is there anything about NI’s campus that you would want to tell future interns?

Get up from your desk! There are a lot of great lil’ spots called ‘oases’ where you can lounge informally and get your work done. It’s really important to get up because it’s gonna boost your creativity and help you get some energy back. After you’ve enjoyed lunch, go for a really nice walk. There are some hidden trails behind the basketball courts and volleyball courts. It’s nice, whether you walk after lunch or just when you need to get away. Take that time for yourself. The way in which the campus is set up allows for those breaks.

What about the company in general?

I was holding myself back a lot before and as I was applying for this job. I have been very comfortable in my own academic environment for a very long time. From my perspective, the longer you’re in academia you can almost become a little more insecure when it comes to your intelligence and your ability to implement the theories that you’ve learned in a classroom. What I’ve really loved about NI is that although I was coming from this negative background that I may not know enough, NI was very welcoming and they wanted to see me succeed. Even though I didn’t know every single step, process, or software system, NI was able to challenge me and allow for me to explore those systems. They really do want to see you succeed, so if you’re curious about a team or even a software outside of your team, ask them about it. That’s going to demonstrate that you’re a self-starter, you’re a go-getter, and that you’re investing in this company. If you give them something, they’ll give you tenfold back.

Is there anything about Austin that you would want to tell future interns?

I would suggest getting out and exploring the greenery of the city. Austin is a city encapsulated with greenery. Get out to Lady Bird Lake. Go for a walk. Go kayaking, paddle boarding, etc.

If that’s not your thing, Austin is also very well known for live music and the arts. You could go to any restaurant or bar and experience live music. Even just walking along South Congress you’ll find a musician there. Or go to Spider House for some poetry slams. Or if THAT isn’t your thing, go to the farmers market that is on Saturdays and Sundays! What I’m trying to get at is that there is always something to do no matter what your interest is. Austin is going to provide it in some form or fashion. It’s just a matter of you being curious and seeking it out.