Jenna

Senior Technical Writer
Software Documentation
Joined NI full-time in August 2016

Education

St. Edward’s University – B.A. in English, Writing and Rhetoric
University of North Texas – M.S. in Information Science


How did you join NI?

NI recruiters came to St. Edward’s University pretty frequently when I was an undergrad, and I went to one of their info sessions. That made me realize this was a career. I did some more internet research on it and found that it could be something that I’d really like to do because it seemed both more challenging and tangible than some other career paths I had looked into with an English degree. I liked that it was a job I could actually dive into immediately after undergrad and hit the ground running.

What are the typical activities you do each week as a Technical Writer at NI?

A typical day for me usually revolves around both creating and reviewing content. Creating content is a huge umbrella term that could mean anything from doing research about a topic to interviewing a subject matter expert about that content. That umbrella also includes sitting down at my computer to write the content and bouncing ideas off other writers.

Reviewing content is actually one of my favorite parts of this job. I help other people’s writing get better with time by considering things like minimalism, our style guide, user goals, and all that good stuff.

Usually all my activities in a given day fall into one of those two buckets. But there’s also extracurricular activities like book clubs or times when writers meet to figure out how something works in software just for the fun of it. Professional development activities that make me a better writer outside of any one project that I might be working on.

Can you tell me a little more about one of the tasks you listed above?

I can talk about interviewing subject matter experts! For those who don’t know, a subject matter expert is someone who knows more about something than you do. That could be an engineer, or a project manager of some kind, or even another writer depending on what you’re looking for. I really like these interviews whenever I’m doing anything related to content because I love talking to people and getting inside their head for a little bit to see how they approach a problem and how the user might approach it differently. I love hearing people talk about what they’re passionate about (that’s one of the most fun parts of this job). And finally gathering the raw material to create something useful and practical for a different audience is really fun for me.

What do you like best about NI?

I think my favorite thing about NI is the type of work that I get to do. I like that it’s challenging and kind of cerebral in a lot of ways while also being very practical in the end. My work helps people achieve very tangible results, which I like. I enjoy all the weird, complex problems that come out of a topic I’m trying to write about. Untangling all the layers of meaning and misunderstanding to get to what a person needs to know about a workflow or product and communicating that clearly.

How has your career grown since you started at NI?

I’ve become a bit more specialized in the area that I write about, but I’ve also become more comfortable with (and started to see more value in) being a generalist. When I first started I felt pressure to quickly find some technical niche and learn everything about that product area, workflow, or whatever. That can have value, and I’ve started doing that with IoT (Internet of Things) products. But, at the same time, there’s a lot to be said for just knowing enough about a large range of things (whether that’s products or types of users). That bird’s-eye view can be a great thing we add as technical writers. I’m more comfortable being a generalist now. I feel less like a dabbler and more like a professional. A professional dabbler, if you will.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’ve collected erasers for 15 years and document them on Instagram @mostly_erasers. The eraser community is one of my favorite corners of the internet.