Intern – Summer 2018
University of North Texas – M.A. in Professional and Technical Communication
How did you find out about this internship?
I learned about it because UNT has a lot of graduates, especially from the master’s program, that came to work here. So they’ve already got a working relationship with the university. They had an informational meeting where some tech writers came down with laptops that had software to show off all the cool things they do here at NI. I went to it and thought it was really interesting. I have a background in computer science so I thought LabVIEW was really cool, especially because they were showing off NXG. I actually ended up meeting my current supervisor at this meeting. She was really cool. And I was like “Ok, I’ll apply.” That was a year ago, and unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to actually apply for it, so I waited until this summer and that’s how I’m here now.
What was the first week of the internship like?
It was kind of like drinking out of a fire hose, but in a good way. There was just so much information that was thrown at me, especially in that first week. I was doing a lot of Wikipedia walking, just going through our internal documentation. It was a lot, but it was also not completely overwhelming because my team was really nice and very helpful with getting me up to speed. So the first week was a little stressful, but everything afterwards was relatively smooth.
What NI-wide intern activities happened during that week?
I mostly enjoyed the social events, like the barbecues that we had, and things we did within Tech Comm. Those were the most enjoyable, at least for me. They really helped me figure out the organization faster, meet people, put faces to names and all that stuff.
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?
I thought NI Week was amazing. It was actually my first week here at NI and I thought it was cool because it really exposed me to all the things that NI was doing at that point. I didn’t realize just how many pies they had their hands in. I thought the keynotes were a little… overproduced. But they did showcase a lot of the company’s initiatives so I think that was useful. It also gave me the opportunity to explore downtown Austin and the convention center, so that was really useful.
What projects did you work on during your internship?
I had two main projects. One of them was updating the existing manual for License Manager to basically make it web accessible. The text content hadn’t been updated in like 4 years or something, so they basically handed it to me and said “Hey make changes to this, make it more accessible and tag it so we can actually put it online”. I was like “Ok, cool I can do that.” That was definitely a great way of getting me exposed to the tools that we use here.
The second project, I was documenting LabVIEW NXG Web Module functions which I thought was interesting. Specifically had to transfer measurement data and enable communication with a server. That was right up my alley in terms of “Oh, this is stuff I actually like”. It was really cool that they paired me with stuff that I talked about in my background when I applied. I liked that a lot.
What skills have you practiced or improved through your project work?
I have definitely gotten better with using DITA authoring tools. In school we talked a lot about the basics of it. Like… What is XML? What is XLT? How do they function together, publish and all that stuff? But we didn’t get to apply it a lot. It was mostly “Here are the tools, you’re going to be asked about it in an interview, you KNOW it, it’s just that you haven’t actually done it.” Now that I have actually done it, it’s definitely clarified a lot of what I have learned and built a lot on what I knew before. So that has definitely improved a lot since I started these projects.
Can you describe how you have interacted with your team/supervisor throughout your internship?
I thought it was really cool because they treated me like a real employee. I had meetings, deadlines, all that stuff. I’ve interned other places and they didn’t treat me that way. Like I was just kind of there and no one wanted to give me a full project to do anything. It was mostly just “Oh, can you proof read this?” or something along those lines. I definitely liked interacting with my team.
We had 1:1 meetings and we had group meetings where we discussed things. We did stand up. We also had team scheduled meetings for team time to work on a project together or meet for food and stuff like that where I feel like an actual employee.
What have you enjoyed most about the team (or project) you worked on?
I think the part I’ve enjoyed the most is the actual projects because they were all things I was interested in. Or they were at least things that I thought were interesting or challenging. I also liked how receptive my team was to me just joining and contributing. They didn’t just shoot down anything I put out there even if it sounded kinda dumb. That’s pretty much what I enjoyed most about the team and the projects in general.
The Company and Campus
Is there anything about NI’s campus that you would want to tell future interns?
I definitely would want to mention the cafeteria. I think it’s pretty cool, especially ’cause you don’t always have to pack your lunch. Always thought that was a really great feature. And the gym. That saves a lot of time, at least on my part. Like, “Ok I don’t always have to make my food. And if I want to work out I can just take off directly from work and go downstairs and do that.”
What about the company in general?
I definitely was a little surprised by how the dress culture is here. I’ve worked at a lot of places that were more formal where you have to wear a shirt and tie every day. Here you have developers walking around in flip flops. But then you have the marketing people who are dressed to the nine. It’s definitely something where if you come in on the first day and you’re expecting a really buttoned-down kind of operation, that’s not exactly what you’re gonna run into. Bring clothes accordingly.
Is there anything about Austin that you would want to tell future interns?
It’s a fun city. There’s always a bunch of things to do. Everything is within driving distance.