TWC Graduates Share their Experiences

Q&A with 2024 Graduates of the Technical Writing & Communication Major
three women smiling at camera, one holding diploma
TWC Majors - (left to right ) Hannah Hanson, Aithanh Nguyen, Autumn Viker

Congratulations to our Technical Writing & Communication (TWC) majors who graduated at the end of this past spring semester! Below is a brief Q&A with three of our recent graduates: Hannah Hanson, Aithanh Nguyen, and Autumn Viker.

Why did you decide to major in TWC?

Hannah: Before I transferred to the University, I was at a community college in my hometown. I remember looking through the majors of CLA and was extremely interested in communication studies. However, I wanted something less broad and more focused. I then found TWC and knew it was the perfect fit for me. I wanted to learn how to explain and simplify complex information, products, and topics to specific audiences.

Aithanh: Before majoring in TWC, I was pre-med, studying biology in the College of Biological Sciences, and minoring in TWC. At the time, I chose the minor because I wanted to gain hard skills I could apply to any type of work. But through my STEM courses and a few writing courses, I became more interested in communications, language, and accessibility in healthcare, and realized that my strengths lie more in my creativity. The courses I took as a TWC minor also helped me realize there are many ways to apply writing and design skills in any career, which helped encourage me to change my career plans. I decided to transfer to CLA and switch my major to TWC with a health sciences sub-plan.

Autumn: I always enjoyed writing and I heard about the technical writing field from one of my English teachers in high school. I was intrigued by the idea of making technical information more accessible for general audiences. I believe it is very important for all types of information to be as accessible as possible for as many audiences as possible.

What was your favorite part of the TWC program?

Hannah: My favorite part of the TWC program would have to be the people. As TWC is one of the smaller majors in CLA, I felt close-knit to my peers and leaders. Every semester, there was always a face to recognize whether it be a fellow student in class, a professor in the hall of Nolte, or a guest speaker in class. I am so thankful for the amazing community of TWC.

Aithanh: My favorite part is that the coursework taught me both hard and soft skills that are applicable to the real world. The program not only focused on teaching us TWC theory and academic approaches, but also hard skills like copywriting, writing html, conducting usability tests, ect.

Autumn: My favorite part was learning from other students. Historically, I have never enjoyed working on collaborative projects. However, throughout my time as an undergraduate student, I worked with many kind and helpful peers that were always willing to answer my questions and share their knowledge with me. Not only did I learn a lot from professors, I also learned from my peers and they helped me feel more comfortable in an academic setting. 

What was your favorite class and why?

Hannah: My favorite class was WRIT 4501 with Nick Rosencrans. This class offered me incredible insights into what my future career entails, user experience design and research. Nick introduced me to the field of UX in my first TWC class as a guest speaker, and after that I couldn’t wait to get a spot in his course. We worked with real-life clients, conducted extensive usability tests, and presented complex data and findings to our clients with our strong background of technical communication. This class showed me the endless opportunities one can achieve with a TWC degree.

Aithanh:  My favorite class was Humanistic Healthcare and Communications (WRIT 3405W)! It opened my eyes to what humanistic approaches to language and communication look like in healthcare. Also, the reading material in that course was so interesting, from topics about the impact of music and illustration in medical care to personal BIPOC patient stories to the different UMN departments who came in and spoke with us (my favorite was the Center for the Art of Medicine—their talk actually inspired me to go to one of their events with the podcast The Nocturnist, and I was able to volunteer with The Nocturnist for a summer). WRIT 3405W inspired me to pursue a career that pushes for a more humanistic healthcare system!

Autumn: My favorite class was Capper Nichols's Writing for Science and Technology. The class gave me opportunities to write narrative science essays. I wrote about frogs and snails and mining technology in a way that married technical and creative writing styles. I even submitted one of my pieces for an award and ended up winning the Victoria Mikelonis Undergraduate Memorial Fund. I am grateful for the chance to explore more creative writing styles and I enjoyed Professor Nichols's passion and ability to connect with students. 

What are your plans for the future?

Hannah: My plan is to begin my job at US Bank as a UX designer this June, a month after my graduation! I can’t wait to bring my background of technical communication into an office of designers. I plan to bridge the gap between TWC and the field of mobile app and web design. Further into my future, I hope to become a project manager or head of design at a well-known company.

Aithanh: After graduation, I started my new position as a communications associate at the Institute for Engineering in Medicine at the U of M Medical School. This fall, I will be applying to graduate school for public health!

Autumn: I am currently still job searching as I just graduated in May. I am excited to explore my options in the field of technical writing and communication, but right now I'm still trying to figure it all out. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue an undergraduate degree in technical writing and communication?

Hannah: I would suggest that they get involved in a student job or volunteer position within writing studies or the department. Again, the community of people within TWC is by far the best part. By joining the community in depth, you will see the true benefits of learning about technical communication.

Aithanh: Don't be afraid to meet and network with people even if you're struggling with figuring out what your interests are! I feel like students only receive advice on how to present their best confident selves and that comes from knowing what you want, but not everyone has that figured out. For me, I was really worried about changing majors and career paths late in college, and I shared this with a woman at a STEM networking event. I took the opportunity to be honest and authentic with what I was struggling with to this stranger and surprisingly, she ended up helping me get an internship which turned into my first job after graduation! So, don't be afraid to be honest about what you struggle with!

Autumn: If you can, take your time. In the beginning, take many different kinds of courses to figure out your interests and consider the different sub-tracks. I completed my bachelor's degree in three years instead of four and it all went by extremely fast. Try not to rush through your undergraduate degree; there is no shame in taking time to explore your options. 

What is one fun fact about you?

Hannah: One fun fact about me is that I have a pet bunny! I have had him throughout college and it’s made my undergraduate years 10 times better!

Aithanh: I love doing illustration work and am always looking to collaborate with others on projects! Check out my work on Instagram

Autumn: I love to read and read 100 books in 2023.

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