Senior Technical Writer
Product Documentation Strategy
Date Joined NI
June 4, 2007
B.S. in Technical Communication
Iowa State University
How did you join NI?
Like most college students, I bounced around degree programs for my first few semesters before an English instructor recommended technical writing to me. As someone who formerly fancied himself an artist, I liked the combination of visual and written communication that technical writing offered. I went to my first career fair as a sophomore and met a technical writer from NI who was there to recruit new grads. NI was the only company in attendance that was recruiting technical writers, and that made an impression on me. I saw NI again at the career fair as a junior, and by the time I was a senior and ready to graduate, NI contacted me before arriving on campus and asked to set up an interview. It must have gone well enough, because I’ve been working here ever since.
What are the typical activities you do each week as a Technical Writer at NI?
In my role in the Embedded Systems Technical Communication group, I document both new hardware products (such as rugged and reconfigurable control and monitoring systems) and the software that turns individual hardware components into a complex, operational system. Moreover, I work closely with writers from other product groups to help guide the documentation strategy and implementation throughout the whole company. NI has a vast library of products and, with multiple writers all working on different projects, it can be a challenge to make the documentation experience consistent for all of our users. When the project load dips, I work on other interesting projects outside of my core responsibilities, such as this website.
Can you tell me a little more about one of the tasks you listed above?
Recruiting new technical writers to join NI is a voluntary activity that current technical writers may choose to do. Recruiting can take many different forms (traveling to campus, leading info sessions, conducting interviews, hosting candidates for on-site visits, etc.), and NI provides training to help you learn how to do these activities successfully. One simple way to connect with potential candidates is the web. This website has existed for many years and has undergone a few different iterations in that time. Currently, I’m working with a few other writers who also recruit to help maintain this site as one of my recruiting-related duties.
What do you like best about NI?
NI is a unique place. They are one of the few employers who not only are willing to hire new grads but actually pursue them vigorously. This mindset makes it pretty easy to transition from college to the workplace. NI’s casual dress code, fun post-college atmosphere, challenging work, and like-minded, fun people make it a great place to work. I’m constantly amazed at the talent, intellect, work ethic, and humor of every new technical writer I meet.
How has your career grown since you started at NI?
I began at NI as a technical writer supporting one of our application software products. After 5 years with that group, I decided I was ready to learn more about other parts of the company and seek new challenges, and I transitioned into the Embedded Systems Technical Communication team. My supervisors and peers gave me great support in making that transition. Since starting at NI, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about being a professional technical writer, problem solver, critical thinker, corporate citizen, and colleague. It’s been a great experience.
What 3 fictional people do you want to have a beer with?
- Batman, because a) he’s freaking Batman and b) once you get 3 or more bottles in him, maybe he’ll let you be the next Robin.
- Dr. Robotnik, because his entire life’s ambition is routinely undermined by a hedgehog, of all animals, and I would love to learn why he thinks all his contraptions will work.
- Ian Malcolm, because a) I’d love to hear him wax chaotic with 32 ounces of Stella Artois in his system, and b) this.