Auburn Wilcox shares how an experiential learning opportunity enhanced her time at BYU
This past summer I had the opportunity to be a technical writing intern in the Bay Area (San Jose) at a company called Splunk. Throughout my internship, I was tasked to document an app, as well as create instructional videos. This was a great experience, but without the writing skills I gained while studying communications, I never would have been able to land this internship.
In the news media emphasis, you learn to produce quality work on tight deadlines — much like you need to do in the real world. In one of the introductory classes, I was assigned to research and write two stories a week. Although this took considerable time, the experience of contacting people, setting up meetings, crafting valuable questions and turning responses into a story is not something I would have been able to learn so quickly in any other way.
But how does news media apply to technical writing? Well, in many ways it is extremely similar. In order to be a valuable technical writer, you need to meet with and interview developers about the product. However, in order to have any sort of valuable meeting with a developer, you need to prepare questions to ask, and then craft the answers into documentation.
As I studied news media, I also learned the valuable art of following up. Often, you are not able to reach the source on the first — or even the second — try, and as such you must follow up. This was similar to my experience with the developers this past summer. I frequently was unable to get ahold of the person I needed to reach on the first try, but because of my experience following up, I was able to craft documentation very efficiently.
My manager, the documentation director and others were surprised and impressed by how quickly I was able to produce good work. My manager even remarked that although I was a good writer, the thing she looks for in hiring employees is someone who takes initiative to set up meetings and follows up to get the job done. Because of this, I was offered a job at the conclusion of my internship.
The publication of student articles allows the College of Fine Arts and Communications to highlight the experiential learning opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences of students and faculty and tell stories with a unique voice and point of view. Submit your story at cfac.byu.edu.