By Nischal Kelwadkar
When Renee Ashford sees an opportunity, she takes it. As a student in UNT's technical communication program, Renee has gained valuable experiences through her roles as an intern at Corptax, a lab assistant for the TECM Tech Lab, and as a TA for Dr. Kim Sydow Campbell. In addition, she acts as the Student Ambassador for the Department of Technical Communication.
In a recent interview, Renee discussed her experience. She also shared some key takeaways for both current and future students.
Role as Student Ambassador
As a student ambassador, Renee represents both the department and UNT as a whole. She provides an undergraduate student's perspective on subjects like courses, workload, and campus life. Ambassadors also make appearances at events like UNT Preview Day to recruit and speak with students who have not yet enrolled at UNT.
Renee is tasked with keeping current students in the tech comm major informed of events and opportunities within the department. In her words, the student ambassador is essentially the "face of the program."
Her role as ambassador has allowed her to connect with a broad range of people on campus. Building these connections is a vital part of becoming a strong technical communicator. Through simply chatting with fellow students and professors in the department, Renee has built relationships and gained a "wealth of knowledge" that has helped her succeed during her time as a student at UNT.
Renee has also gained a wealth of knowledge through her internship at Corptax, a tax-software company headquartered just outside of Chicago. The process through which Renee got her internship was uncommon: instead of seeking out Corptax and applying for an internship, she was actually contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn and invited to apply. By simply maintaining her profile on LinkedIn, a valuable internship opportunity found her. After responding with her interest in the position, she was required to complete a phone interview, a test, and two in-person interviews before she was finally selected.
As an intern, one of Renee's main jobs was to use the software Madcap Flare to write documentation. Working with the software requires a steep learning curve, but through the skills and knowledge she learned in her tech comm classes at UNT, as well as the training provided on the job, Renee was able to become a proficient user of the software. This proficiency is now a skill she can carry with her to her next professional opportunity, as Madcap Flare is used in many jobs in the technical communication field.
Advice for Tech Comm Students
Renee's advice for current and prospective students? "Use your resources! That is what I did, and I was able to benefit so much from it."
She also particularly appreciated what she learned in two of the courses provided at UNT: Technical Editing and Advanced Technical Communication. "The writing and editing skills that I learned from these courses are the reason that I was able to have this job [at Corptax]. I would never have even made it to the in-person interview if I weren't able to pass the editing test that they assigned to me."
"If there is anything that I have learned throughout this process, it is this: get involved, use your resources, and differentiate yourself by doing things that average people wouldn't."