A Day in the Life of a Technical Communication Student

Editor’s note: Samantha Miranda is an enthusiastic new member of TechWhirl’s Special Writers Unit. For many professionals in our field, the life of a technical communication student is a distant memory or perhaps even a total guess. Samantha’s chronicle of a typical day reminds us how much—and how little—has changed for university students, and how much we can learn from a novice.

technical communication student jugglerToday is a fairly busy day for me. I need to be in class and to work on assignments, I have a little bit of time devoted to work as well, and I plan to spend a little bit of time socializing in order to stay sane.

8-9:30 AM, Roll Out of Bed and Get Going

I’m more productive when I get enough sleep, so I usually get up early when I have more work to do. I eat a granola bar on my way to the library (breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but sometimes you have to work it in on the run). This morning, I have to print out an assignment written about what Media Studies chapter I’m interested in exploring then presenting and why.

9:30-10:45 AM, Media Studies

Successfully turned in the assignment. Though I chose books, I look forward to learning more about other forms of media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, video games, and more. Most people chose different chapters, but a few people ended up in groups of two. In today’s lecture and discussion, we analyzed some advertisements and touched on the social scientific and cultural approaches to media research.

11 AM-12 PM, Lunch/Homework/Reading

On good days, like today, I can spend more time on lunch than homework or reading.

12:30-1:45 PM, Professional Writing Workshop

Class today focused on a discussion of usability before we broke off into our small groups to work on our sections of a classroom technology manual–the big project for the first half of the semester.

1:45-3:30 PM, Directed Teaching

Once I complete this class, I’ll have enough credits for my education minor. The class itself involves a lot of reading and reflective essays, and I have to observe and then work up to teaching in a classroom for two hours per day for three weeks. My mentor teacher is finishing up a unit on energy and the kids were excited about preparing for tomorrow’s heat transfer lab: making ice cream.

4-5 PM, Work

I work part time at the Writing Center. Since there weren’t very many students coming in for writing tutoring (it’s still the beginning of the semester), I could work on my own homework and get started on some grading.

5-6:15 PM, Web Design

The assignment I submitted today was a group assignment to analyze a poster for the use of line, shape, texture, value, and color; and then to redesign it. Today’s lecture topic was typography. During class, I received next week’s assignment; I need to work in a group to design a poster on typography.

6:30-7:30 PM, Homework/Reading

I had to cram a lot into this timeslot since I still need to practice Spanish, continue reading chapter on usability (14 pages), and get started on the next section for Web Design on design principles (12 pages). But first, I had to discuss typography poster with my group.

8-10 PM, Dinner and Trivia

I’m lucky to see some of my close friends once a week, so competing at a weekly trivia contest is a good excuse to see some of them. Plus, most of the time my team comes in first or second!

10-11 PM, Winding Down

I managed to make more blocks of time available to work on homework tomorrow, so I’ll just finish a few things and start getting ready for bed.

Other than the all-important technical communication content, one of the things I’m learning in college is time management: I need to do the important things before they become urgent, and find the right balance between work and life. According to my friends and colleagues who have recently completed internships or graduated and become professionals, time management is an important skill for all technical communicators.

Samantha Miranda

Samantha Miranda is originally from California and now considers New Mexico her home. She recently graduated from New Mexico Tech with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer at the University of South Carolina for National Science Foundation funded research on green chemistry and chemical engineering. After graduating, Samantha pursued post-baccalaureate studies in energy systems engineering but discovered her true passions are communicating and teaching. Combining her technical background with her interest in communicating, she has worked as a freelance writer writing science-themed poems for children. Samantha is currently finishing her second Bachelor of Science in technical communication with a minor in education. In her free time, when she is not studying, tutoring at the New Mexico Tech Writing Center, or grading engineering homework, Samantha loves swing and blues dancing. For more information, view Samantha Miranda's LinkedIn profile.

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