Our program prepares students to become expert communicators in the professional and technological workplace. We followed up with program alumni to learn how the MATC program helped them reach their career goals:
Year Graduated: 2008
Position: Lecturer in Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication at MIT.
Brief Job Description: My work primarily involves teaching writing and communication in science and engineering classes. I spend most of my time working with computer science, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering students. I provide a background in theory and practice to students with the goal of preparing them for their professional discourses upon graduation, whether that discourse community happens to be academic research, industry, government, non-profit, or military. We work with a wide range of partners at MIT, so the service learning and applied project classes are numerous. These classes also happen to be the communication intensive courses, and students need to know how to write and present for the outside observers that frequent such classes from Apple to Hasbro to the Air Force.
It's a team endeavor at MIT. My time is mixed between teaching solo in some sections, working as part of a group in others, and coordinating teams for yet other sections. We do an interesting job shaking up leadership and support roles across the program. It reminds me a bit of working at a large tech company (I spent a few years at Apple back in the day), where side projects often give you an opportunity to explore new skills and leadership opportunities.
I also spend time developing online coursework for MITx, our online open courseware initiative. This means developing interactive and video content as well as textual instruction. We are experimenting in how best to use online instruction to help provide the conceptual framework to students prior to activities in class where we can explore those concepts in detail.
While teaching and course design are primary responsibilities, I also do a fair amount of research in pedagogical practice. I also look at online civic usability and learnability, which means I spend a lot of time seeing what people learn when using comment fields, wikis, and Twitter.
Lauren Allen (Oakes)
Year Graduated: 2005
Current Position: Project Manager
Employer: National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center
Brief Job Description: As part of a management team for catastrophic preparedness planning and emergency management projects, I work closely with emergency management and senior elected officials to generate documentation for homeland security planning, exercise and technical assistance programs. Past and current projects include the following:
- After-Action Reports (e.g., 2009 El Dorado Chemical Fire, 2008 Hurricane Season, San Angelo Sheltering Operations (2008), and Hurricane Dean Mobilization (2007))
- Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Plans
- Policy Recommendations for Pandemic Influenza Continuity of Operations in the State of Texas
- Urban Area Homeland Security Strategies
- Texas Preparedness Advisory Committee Reports
Year Graduated: 2013
Current Position: Technical Web Writer and Editor
Employer: Polycom, Inc.
Brief Job Description: As a technical writer at Polycom, I write user, administrator, developer, deployment, and installation documentation for audio, video, and solution products. I usually write for at least ten releases of software or hardware products a year. While I've only been with Polycom for less than two years, I have had so many opportunities to work with engineers, developers, and managers across many time zones and different countries. I spend a large part of my time testing the products and software that I am writing about, gathering information on features for user documentation, and managing the documentation projects I’m working on.
Since I've started working here, I have learned how to update the software on our phones, created graphic documents that show users how to assemble our products, learned about safety regulations and legal requirements for products, and managed the documentation for numerous releases.
Year Graduated: 2014
Current Position: Research Engineering/Scientist Associate I – Technical Content Developer
Employer: Applied Research Laboratories: The University of Texas at Austin
Brief Job Description: As a technical communicator for Applied Research Laboratories: The University of Texas at Austin, I am charged with creating and designing documentation for sonar hardware and software. I often work on different types of projects, which keeps the days varied and interesting.
During the course of these different projects, I work with a number of different software and tools to perform my job, but the main software that I work with is called MadCap Flare. Beyond written communication, I also develop video and graphics. It all depends on the project and the required methods of communication. Considering the nature and subject of the project, such as hardware operation and maintenance guides and software operating instructions, I have to spend time gaining some level of experience with the subject of the documentation.
For a hardware operation and maintenance guide, I would spend time with the engineers and technicians going through the processes that need to be documented. This primarily involves observation, but at times requires a hands on approach. If time and resources are limited, the engineers and technicians will provide me with a skeleton version of the procedure. I take that procedure and apply my knowledge and experience as a technical communicator to finesse the language and structure to the form and quality that communicates the subject and instructions clearly to the intended audience. The engineers and technicians will then review my work and provide their stamp of approval if they deem it technically accurate. After the approval of technical accuracy is given, usability testing is performed by a number of people involved in the certification process of the hardware/software and documentation.
As a technical communicator, I have the opportunity and responsibility to remain a vigilant learner. The tools may always remain the same, but the subject almost never does.
Year Graduated: 2014
Current Position: Enterprise User Experience Team, User Experience Analyst
Brief Job Description: After working as an intern at Visa I accepted a full-time position with the Visa User Experience team in 2013. I have since been able to apply what I learned about usability, research methods, and visual rhetoric during the MATC program to my current role at Visa. Most of my responsibilities revolve around accessibility testing and consulting for Visa product teams. I have also been involved in developing Visa's internal accessibility standards and training Visa developers and QA engineers on accessible design and development. It is rewarding to see the positive affect the work we do has on ensuring equal access to Visa’s products.
I also get to do some interaction design and prototyping for new software and web applications and work with visual designers and web developers to bring them to life. The Visa User Experience team has a usability lab and I work with other analysts on the team to plan and conduct usability studies that support development projects across the company. The Texas State University MATC program prepared me for the work I do now with direct exposure to usability research and user analysis. The research report writing and presentation experience I gained from the MATC program have proven to be invaluable for the work I do now. I have found that solid writing and communication skills are in high demand in the technology industry and completing the MATC degree program at Texas State has offered me a competitive edge that I would not have otherwise. I am excited about upcoming opportunities to apply rhetorical theory to the usability research my team is working on and I continue to find new ways to connect technical communication to user experience.
Year Graduated: 2012
Current Position: Graduate Teaching Instructor
Employer: Texas Tech University
Brief Job Description: Currently, I am a graduate teaching instructor of an undergraduate introduction to technical writing course. During the fall and spring 2015 semesters, I piloted a semester long technical writing and editing project that focuses on teaching the importance of cultural awareness and accessibility in the workplace. The course-long project integrates disability studies with the analysis and writing of technical instructional materials for assistive technology devices that help individuals with speech impairments communicate via a communication tablet.
As a 3rd year doctorate candidate, I am currently completing my dissertation on the Rhetoric and Economics of Electronic Health Records (EHR), which looks at out how EHR technology influences clinical decision-making including e-coding systems that rhetorically and metaphorically represent patients’ diagnoses and treatment narratives, and how those narratives represent marketable rhetorical units of value and exchange in an attention economy. With 30-years-experience in the medical and business industry, I continue to work as a contract documentation specialist (writer and editor) in clinical (medical) and general marketing research; grant writing; and historical research in technical communication.
Most recently, I completed research at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, in D.C. on an American female sculptor who made facial prostheses for war victims in Paris during WWI. The research mapped and annotated collected artifacts in the Ladd archive, such as correspondence, news articles, photographs, and journal notes, to piece together Ladd’s collective during the war. I presented my findings at a 2014 War Memories conference in Rennes, France, which is under review for publication. I am also working as a contract researcher, documentation, and archive specialist for historical technical documents located aboard the historic U.S.C.G. cutter Ingham. The Ingham research is also part of a film documentary project where I am interviewing and collecting war narratives from surviving veterans who served on the Ingham during WWII.
Year Graduated: 2007
Current Position: Integrated Marketing Communcation Specialist
Employer: National Instruments
Brief Job Description: As an Integrated Marcom Specialist, my work spans between Product Marketing and Marketing Communication. I work within these two organizations at National Instruments, a global, hi-tech test and automation company, to create and execute integrated marketing campaigns designed to increase awareness, loyalty, and profitability of the product solutions in my specific industry—science and engineering education. I coordinate the development of materials and activities on the marketing plan by collaborating effectively with product management, media groups, in-house design agency, and regional marketing counterparts. Our campaigns must align with the needs of our customers, our core messaging, and our technology platform. And, because this is a global company, campaigns must also account for customers’ needs worldwide.
My daily tasks, meetings, conference calls, computer work, and any travel all revolve around building and delivering integrated plans that deliver effective targeting and positioning, vehicle and media mix recommendations, and timing and forecast of results. Effective project management, in-depth understanding of my audience and product offering, and the ability to lead by influence are imperative in this position.
Now, does that sound like some marketing discourse, or what? Here is how I really feel about my awesome job. Besides my deep passion for education (former teacher here) and the intrigue of hi-tech applications (nerd at heart), I truly enjoy the mix of creativity and logic required in this position. It takes incredible creativity and precision to reach your target audience effectively and consistently year after year, and to successfully engage the next generation of scientists and engineers it takes a team of Dr. Seusses, Mark Twains, Nikola Teslas, and Einsteins, all of whom you can find in some form or another at NI.
Year Graduated: 2010
Current Position: Director of Web Product Marketing
Employer: Mouser Electronics
Brief Job Description:
Many of the companies I have worked for don't actually create a tangible product. In most cases, they are technology marketplaces or distributors that market and educate a highly competent and specific engineering audience on solutions. For this reason, my experience and MATC credentials have led me into an exciting technical communication career.
On a daily basis, I provide strategic direction to the technical marketing organization on how to successfully market electronic components to design engineers. I am responsible for content strategy, quality, processes, procedures, metrics, style guides and standards, usability, search engine optimization, content reuse, single sourcing, and managing a large team. We also work closely with 20 global offices who are translating the product and marketing messages for local use.
Since Amazon reportedly sells over 200 million products in the US, I am amazed that our company sells 17 million products. This sheer number means work with big data. That's why I'm always discovering ways to programmatically find and fix errors and produce reports by utilizing a variety of analytics sources such as data visualization by combining multiple application programming interfaces (APIs). I guide the company to make scalable decisions about the content management system and the internal and external customers' digital eCommerce experience. I instruct information developers on how to create uniquely valuable content, scale the content for translation and multiple devices, and optimize the content both for human and machine consumption. I proactively lead the web content marketing team to work smarter. We create technical content that supports a trusted brand and lofty distribution goals.