I’ve been a technical communications co-op at Kohler’s Kitchen and Bath department for a little over a month now, and as geeky as it is, I will never look at a bathroom or kitchen the same way again. In addition, I have already gained valuable knowledge about what being a technical communicator is like, and I feel like my professional skills, as well as my communication skills, are developing immensely.
On my second day here, I was tossed right into a real project that put the company’s relationship with one of their biggest distributors on the line. I wasn’t quite ready to get so involved so fast, but I am always down for a good challenge.
I was put in charge of the project, and my supervisor guided me through as I needed, as did my co-workers. I had to ask for help if I needed it though—no one was here to hover and make sure I was doing everything I needed to be doing. Although pretty scary, the benefits of being on my own were huge, looking back on it. It made me feel like a real employee here, and not just the co-op. Being thrown into it right away, I learned the ropes of how things operate here very quickly, and am already deep into several other projects too.
Plus, I get to play around with really cool products like a bath that plays music, toilets that I could never afford, and more! I have also gained home-installation skills, and can proudly say I can now install toilet seats without even thinking. Like I said, I’m definitely geeking out, but I’m really learning a ton here at Kohler, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in the next 6 months.
This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to obtain an internship with Quicken Loans. Quicken Loans is a mortgage-lending company that operates out of Michigan, Ohio, and Arizona. For three months I worked alongside Quicken team members in downtown Detroit in what turned out to be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life. My position title was that of a Technical Writer. I was on a team called Rock Docs, working alongside business analysts and other technical writers within the IT department. My main task as an intern was to create documentation for the systems within IT. This included all functioning parts of a process ranging from change management, risk management practices, to testing and implementation of applications. I mediated the information between the subject matter experts and the business analysts, creating usable documentation as a means of tracking information and for knowledge management purposes. The skills I learned at Michigan Technological University have been solidified by this experience.
Alongside the actual experience in the field, my time at Quicken Loans was incomparable. The company culture is absolutely phenomenal and the values that they hold most important are lifelong skills that are applicable in any situation. In addition to these aspects, I discovered a new-found love for the city of Detroit, as there were numerous opportunities to volunteer in the community in which we worked. My internship with Quicken Loans was one of the best experiences of my life; I grew immensely as a person from this opportunity.
Do you know the difference between a policy and a procedure? I didn’t either when I started my internship through the University Policies and Procedures Department here at Michigan Tech, but this opportunity has changed my perspective on how I can learn through professional experience and use my major, Scientific and Technical Communication (STC), to help make confusing information compelling and easy to understand.
My internship is located in Houghton at the Michigan Tech Lakeshore Center, where I work closely with individuals in Business Operations. My supervisor, Ann Kitalong-Will, is director of the department, and guides me through the various projects I’m assigned. Most of the time I work independently, either researching or writing content for my projects, but I also attend quite a few meetings that keep everyone in our office updated and on-task.
The projects I’m working on are interesting, especially because they all relate to STC. I’ve updated the official policy format used for publishing policies so that they’re visually appealing and easier to navigate, and I’ve also developed a how-to guide for writing policy. Both of these require user analysis, which is a rhetorical principle I learned through my courses at Tech. Additionally, I’ve been given the task of updating my department’s web page, so I’m learning how to manipulate the site development system, as well as how to use HTML and CSS. I have no experience in web design, so this internship is a great opportunity to develop technical skills. I also have the chance to oversee the policy development process, and I’m learning that technical writing requires multiple draft cycles—and lots of teamwork!
Overall, I think this internship has been an awesome way to get a feel for my major because I’m directly working on real projects that will affect the campus community. I’ve learned a lot by applying my in-class learning to a real-world situation, and am excited to follow the path that this experience has laid out for me.