Staff Technical Writer
Systems R&D Documentation
Joined NI on September 11, 2017
Texas A&M University – B.A. in Telecommunication Media Studies, Minor in Spanish
How did you join NI?
As a student in college I didn’t really know what technical writers did. I thought that it sounded really boring. However, I really liked writing and I really liked helping STEM students write through my job at the university writing center. So when I moved to Austin after college I did some more research into tech writing and found that I was really interested in it as a career. NI kept coming up as a good place to build a tech writing career, so I applied.
What are the typical activities you do each week as a Technical Writer at NI?
Like a true technical writer, Katie listed off her typical job activities. For readability, they are formatted as such below:
- I attend meetings with my writing team to discuss documentation-related process, style, and logistics questions.
- I attend meetings with my developers to learn about new features or issues they’re facing and answer any documentation-related questions they may have.
- I solicit review feedback from my developers and other stakeholders to inform content updates.
- I write new content and edit existing content for new hardware and software releases.
- I plan and track documentation work for upcoming releases.
- I work with our content strategy team to define new processes and best practices.
- I review documents from other writers on my team to provide feedback on the content and formatting.
- I meet with my manager to discuss my ongoing project load and career growth.
- I work with our document production specialists to process image requests for my documents and get new documents printed and/or published on the web.
- I screen, interview, and grade editing tests for candidates as part of the department’s recruiting efforts.
Can you tell me a little more about one of the tasks you listed above?
Even though the writers on my team all work on different documents, it is still really helpful for me to meet with them on a regular basis. Whether that’s in a one-on-one meeting or in a group, we discuss challenges that may come up and learn about what is working well for each of us. Everybody is really generous with their time so I typically set up meetings with one or more of my teammates to strategize about content updates, tooling issues, and stuff like that. Hearing what’s worked for other people in the past helps me then make better decisions about what I want to do with my content.
What do you like best about NI?
The people I work with! I really appreciate the casual, collaborative environment. I also appreciate the flexibility to direct my own career growth and work on projects that are interesting to me. There’s always something new to learn and I appreciate that.
How has your career grown since you started at NI?
When I started I knew almost nothing about technical writing. Since then, I have taken ownership of several documentation sets across several different product lines. I’ve worked with developer teams and writers from across the country, and across the globe. I’ve also done some project management. All of that combined with professional development opportunities has given me a much more comprehensive understanding of what being a good technical writer looks like. Of course there’s always more to learn, which is one of the things I like most about this job!
Finally, what was your favorite cultural phenomenon of the 1990’s?