Technical Communication Internship, Michigan Tech Gardens

Whitney Johnson

When I applied for a student gardener position, I was overjoyed that I would get to spend all my time outside doing what I love to do while also taking classes and getting paid for my time.  It took me nearly a year to realize that what I was doing could be related to my Scientific and Technical Communication major based on the fact that the degree is incredibly broad and can be applied to a wide variety of situations.  The STC degree has allowed me to take bits and pieces of what I have learned in my classes and apply it to this internship.  This includes things such as design, spreadsheets, documentation, information organization, and prioritization. 

In this internship, I am mapping all 172 gardens across campus and documenting the plants in each one.  The objective is to create a page on Michigan Tech’s website where visitors can learn about the gardens and the overall ability to grow plants in a climate such as ours which, to some, may seem a bit difficult if not impossible.  The overall goal is to spread awareness and promote the creation of green spaces.  On the technical end, in addition to the garden mapping, I am revamping the garden department’s current method of chemical storage.  With this, I am reorganizing, documenting, creating spreadsheets, laying out safety procedures, and ensuring all OSHA standards are met.  This will be beneficial not only moving forward with day to day tasks but also with the overall training of new students.  I am thrilled that the work I am doing will be used for years to come.  It is not simply busywork, but instead, something that will help me progress in my career and also serve future employees in this role.

 I am realizing, while still in college and taking STC classes, that the skills I learn in school and apply in my working life are more concept-based than specific information/procedure based.  I am learning how to learn, and the STC program is putting me in the mindset to do that.  I know how to take in all sorts of seemingly unrelated information and connect them in ways that are unique and beneficial.  I think that this is a great opportunity for me to harness my skills in a real-world setting.  I entered this major because I was intrigued by the idea of being able to adapt to a work environment of my choosing and being able to take my work with me, not going where my work takes me. — Whitney Johnson, STC


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