Staff Technical Writer
Core Test Systems Technical Communications
Summer 2015 Intern
Joined NI full-time on August 31, 2015
Indiana University – B.A. in Journalism
Texas A&M University – M.S. Science and Technology Journalism
How did you join NI?
I first heard about NI when I was a junior in college poking around the interwebs for internship opportunities in Austin. After a couple years working for state government, I went back to school and realized I needed an internship as part of my graduate program. I applied to NI and was brought on as a technical writing intern in May 2015. When NI offered me a full-time position at the end of the summer, I asked how soon I could start and transitioned to full-time three weeks later.
What are the typical activities you do each week as a Technical Writer at NI?
Generally I start the week by checking on all my ongoing projects to see if I need to create new documentation in DITA or HTML, address existing issues, implement changes, request art updates, or send documents for review. I’ll also spend time researching for future projects. I attend my R&D team’s staff and project meetings to follow-up on hardware and software updates and familiarize myself with the products. We have a weekly Modular Instruments Tech Comm update and I meet one-on-one with my manager to talk about my workload and discuss my career goals.
Can you tell me a little more about one of the tasks you listed above?
Absolutely. Because we create documentation that accompanies new products, features and timelines are subject to change. Attending the R&D team meetings helps me keep tabs on the development schedule and know when things are shifting. The meetings are also a great opportunity to catch an engineer and ask questions. Technical writers are translators between our engineers and potential users, so it’s important to ask anything you can’t easily find an answer to. Odds are if you have a question, the user probably will, too.
What do you like best about NI?
You hear this all the time, but the culture. Everyone I work with is friendly, motivated, and genuinely cares about your success. I love that we’re encouraged to guide our own careers and choose how we want to grow within NI. In comparison to other places I’ve worked, I’m expected to prioritize my own workload and keep my manager in the loop about the documentation progress of various R&D projects. Our hard work is balanced by plenty of play—since starting I’ve participated in the Tech Comm Office Olympics, volunteered at Girlstart with my team, refereed dodgeball for intern field day, and attended countless group lunches.
How has your career grown since you started at NI?
Well, I’ve definitely taken on more responsibilities since my time as an intern. I’m now the primary technical writer for a product line and work closely with engineers and developers to improve our documentation. I’m involved with recruiting and have helped train a couple new writers. I definitely think more critically about what information a user really needs and how to better present that in my documents.
Best joke you know?
Where does George Washington keep his armies? In his sleevesies!
I’ll be here all week.