Intern – Summer 2018
Radio Frequency Documentation
Missouri State University – M.A. in Writing (Technical and Professional Writing Track)
How did you find out about this internship?
I was recruited by alumni from my university. Heather Messick, who is a Staff Technical Writer with DAQ, came down to Missouri State University and did a recruiting event. I happened to be there and decided then and there that I wanted to interview for it.
What was the first week of the internship like?
There was a lot of training. A lot of both learning the technical writing aspect of NI, NI-specific terminology and language and how NI does things. So there’s two aspects of learning there and learning with the toolchain and the software involved. I kind of knew what NI did coming down here but I didn’t have the broader sense of how technical writing and engineering went together. So there was some learning about the engineering side of NI and how that works with technical writing.
What NI-wide intern activities happened during that week?
For Tech Comm, I really liked when we met up several times to have lunch together. It was an informal kind of meeting where we got to ask questions in a laid back, easy kind of manner and listen to the former interns that are now full-time employees discuss their experience. It was really rewarding. And seeing how they benefited from it.
For the internship in general, I really enjoyed sand volleyball. That was something we all had the opportunity to participate in and I thought that was really fun.
Preface: NI Week is a yearly conference that showcases everything NI has worked on over the past year to engineers from around the world. The conference took place during the second week of the internship.
How was your NI Week experience?
It was really cool. Very overwhelming. At that point I didn’t grasp the scope of how involved NI is in different industries. Seeing all those represented there at NI Week helped me understand the scope of how involved NI is with other companies. How interconnected everything is, which is really cool.
What projects did you work on during your internship?
I had multiple projects. I migrated NI-USRP help from a Compiled Help Manual to Searchable Product Documentation, which is NI’s online manual. Then I migrated some additional, smaller projects. Then I updated some node information for USRP. Mostly migration with some content writing.
What skills have you practiced or improved through your project work?
Definitely my attention to detail. I’ve struggled through the reviews. I’ve had lots of feedback from my supervisor and mentor about things I miss periodically. I did not know any DITA or XML coming into NI, so learning that language was an obstacle that I’m still working towards mastering. Also collaborating with subject matter experts to talk about documentation and that’s really rewarding.
Can you describe how you have interacted with your team/supervisor throughout your internship?
We would use multiple forms of communication: email, Skype, in-person meetings. They were really flexible and willing to give feedback and offer insight. They had lots of input about the documentation I was working on and I was never without feedback. So it made the documentation better.
What have you enjoyed most about the team (or project) you worked on?
I really enjoyed the chemistry and atmosphere of the team I was working on. Everyone was really kind and helpful. They wanted me to succeed, but they didn’t want me to succeed at the cost of not learning and not implementing the changes that were needed. I know there’s a tendency to not want to hurt someone’s feelings when you provide criticism, but I never got that vibe here with my team. It was very much ‘Here’s the feedback I’m going to give you. You’re doing a great job, but here are the changes you need to make.” It was always done really kindly and allowed me to succeed.
The Company and Campus
Is there anything about NI’s campus that you would want to tell future interns?
I think the campus is very much like a college campus, but the best parts of a college campus. You have access to a fitness facility, cafeterias, volleyball and basketball courts. There are a lot of great recreational activities to do across campus. In terms of cubicles and work space, I think everyone has at least two monitors if not more which is really cool. I’ve never had two monitors before. The technology is really exciting to be able to use. It’s a really great facility to work at.
What about the company in general?
I think NI has a distinct, strong culture that resonates throughout. They emphasize work life balance… not killing yourself to get the job done. I really like the culture here. The people here are really nice and kind. It’s really exciting to be working for a company that is making technology that is part of the new technology that comes out of other companies like cellphones and automobiles. So it feels like the work here is meaningful.
Is there anything about Austin that you would want to tell future interns?
Yeah, there’s a lot to do here in Austin. Especially with other interns. We went to the lake. We’ve gone tubing. Dance Across Texas. Visiting the Domain. There’s a lot to do here in Austin. There’s not a single weekend where you couldn’t be doing something brand new and completely different. There’s always something to do.