In this semester’s class we have covered many topics. I think the most useful part of the courses, is when we learn how to find a proper career field and a job. Although I am still a freshman this year, it seems like I don’t eagerly need those technique. However, it is still very meaningful for me. I found that is not that easy to find a proper job of your career field nowadays even we have Internet. When we think about career choice, several things immediately come to mind, like job description, training and education required, career outlook, and salary. After you find your career field or an exact company, the next you have to consider about is how to make sure they want to hire you. It requires lots of your energy, dedication, optimism, and readiness to hear the word “no”. But after this course, I think I can set about making preparations before I graduate.
My two main takeaways from this class are how to write proposals and instructions/documentation.
I believe that writing proposals will a very important part of my job in the IT field. Proposals are necessary to describe new projects, present ideas, and promote services. According to Technical Communication Today, there are two types of proposals: internal and external. Internal proposals are used within a company to plan or propose new projects/products. External proposals are used to offer services or products to clients outside the company. During my IT career, I will write many proposals of both types. For example, if I am working at a healthcare company, I could write an internal proposal that proposes a new database system for all our patients. Or, if I am working for an IT firm, I could write an external proposal to a high school that proposes to replace all their old desktops with new laptops that each student can borrow until they graduate.
In this class, we learned how to write proposals that consisted of the following sections: introduction, current situation, project plan, qualifications, cost and benefits, and conclusion. The assignment about proposing different project-management software to a supervisor is a very realistic situation. Companies are always looking to upgrade their PC’s and/or software, so it is important to be able to present ideas in an effective manner that will stand out from others that are competing.
One part of this class that will help me in the Information Technology field is understanding documentation. Documentation consists of instructions, specifications and procedures/protocols. Documentation in the IT field is so crucial especially with software development. When modifying software, it is a necessity to document the changes through comments in the program or elsewhere. When you hand off your code to someone else in the future they will need to be able to understand it. Without comments and documentation, they will have no idea what they are looking at.
Online documentation is becoming more and more popular for product or software instructions. Most people don’t keep physical instructions nowadays, they rely on online instructions to help them. There is an example from Technical Communication Today that shows online documentation for Dropbox. Dropbox uses images paired with text to make the instructions clearer. Another increasingly popular option is to create a tutorial video for a product or software to explain to customers. So, if my company creates a new product or software, I will ensure that we have adequate online documentation, since I understand that this is so important.
One of the most important things this class has changed about my work is my editing process. Before this class I didn’t really take any time to edit my work before submitting it. This class has changed my thinking about this subject. Editing is a crucial part of any work that is going to be looked at by other people. It represents yourself and your knowledge, and you want to ensure you are putting your best foot forward at all times. After this section of the class, I became very aware on the best practices of editing your work.
Personally the levels of edit really helped me with the proper approach and time to do the steps of the editing process.
When you revise the document as a whole, instead of piece by piece while you are reading.
Paying attention to organization, design, and content. This in my opinion is the most important level of editing because it really affects if you got your message across or not, and if it’s legible to the reader.
Ensuring clarity, persuasion, and consistency.
Only checking grammar, misspellings, and usage issues.
This subject has caused me to not only edit my documents for this class, but all the papers and assignments I encountered this semester.
In this semester’s class we have covered many topics, but probably the most applicable one for me was when we read the “Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics” by Dona M. Wong. The book contained information I could begin using that day. In engineering, dealing with data is essential for almost every job.
This topic has already helped me this year. Wong taught me about graphs and how to properly display data. In my material science lab we are constantly producing graphs. The main parameter for the charts is that they must be clear and concise. Wong has definitely helped me keep my charts simple by avoiding clutter, keeping texts simple, and formatting with clearness in mind. In other classes I have been working on final reports where I have created several graphs and charts that I know are much better quality than I could have done before this class. I was working on a final PowerPoint with a partner for an applied entrepreneurship class and we created a pie graph for demonstration purposes. Earlier in the year I would have said it looked great, but after learning the proper formatting I could not settle with less than the best, so I spent the following five minutes teaching about all the nuances to creating good pie graphs.
The book is a must read. It is short and concise but brings up ideas that could be easily overlooked. The book can be found here.
As engineers, a big part of our job is to collect data to prove or deny a theory or new concept. Now with modern data acquisition systems, it is much easier to collect large quantities of data. The more data the better for engineers. However, often times this data has to be translated to non-engineers or others who may just want the answer to their questions rather than a portfolio of numbers. For this reason it is important to have the skills necessary to convey information quickly and accurately to those who may not understand tables of data. In my field of work it will be essential that I be able to display data clearly and concisely with simple charts and graphs. A few methods I will use are keeping the largest portion of a pie chart on top using a coloring scheme that is based on shades not hues, no overlapping text, clear fonts, and simple lines.
The course had so many things that would have an impact on my work, to name one of a few the Levels of Edit was one that stood out to me. The levels of edit will be helpful in future writing. The method of editing the document is in 4 parts, revising, substantive editing, copy editing and lastly proofreading. It really does help me make sure the document is in a good standing, and that I have tailored it to a certain audience. It has different aspects of the document that you must look at and edit. Before taking this course I had been only proofreading my work once or twice. I would have applied this method of editing earlier on if I had learned about it. This course really does have a lot of content that will have an impact on my future career and also how I will apply it to my work.