An internship helps students acquire the first but significant work experience allowing them to put their knowledge and develop leadership and professional skills. That’s why Sigma is actively supporting the students applying for the LIA program (LIA or Lärande i Arbete, Learning while Working), a program helping them step toward their career paths.
This year we welcomed students of the one-year program for technical writers at Hermods higher vocational school. The students are working on their project with Jan-Erik Åberg, a mentor, lecturer, and consultant at Sigma Technology Information. We talked with three students – Annie Josefsson, Anna Johannesson, and Magdalena Manko – to discover what they do at their assignments and their internship practice. We also talked with Jan-Erik about his role as a mentor for LIA technical writers. Finally, we will immerse into the world of internship for technical writers and look at it from different angles: from students’ and mentor’s points of view.
What does the internship look like?
Jan-Erik: I’ve been a teacher for the last 10 years, and I understand that technical writing students need something beyond just writing. We don’t put the LIA students into our normal technical writing projects, instead, we involve them in projects where we try to define and teach what good technical writing is. Of course, we write technical texts but as examples. So, the main goal is to let the students unleash their talents and show their individuality. I like having small groups of students because they can work together to improve my and their ideas.
What kind of tasks are the students doing now?
Jan-Erik: I work mainly with education and teach the students technical writing basics. Now we are working on improving the overall quality of the educational materials for training on our learning platform. We are going to modularize all the training and check the materials. We have a lot of modules, and we want to make sure that they all contain good videos, illustrations, and presentations. Besides, the students help me improve writing tests and interview questions for the candidates applying for technical writer positions.
You mentioned the students are located in different cities. So how do you organize the process and communication with them?
Jan-Erik: When it comes to the study at Hermods, we speak about the remote type of education. I’ve been involved in the lectures and internship programs for the last few years, so we have a lot of experience working like this. We use Teams as a communication platform and meet in one of our offices, if possible. We usually have morning meetings three times a week, but I’m really very happy that the students are very self-organized. I mean, I am present at the meetings, but the interns check the statuses and ask for help or a piece of advice when they need it, so I’m involved by request only.
Now we will talk with the students and discover how they find their new profession.
Why did you decide to work with technical writing?
Annie: Initially, technical writer or technical communication expert was not a profession I was aware of. I came across this role by accident at the event. I met my neighbor there, and during the conversation, I asked her what she was doing, and she told me that she worked as a technical communicator. Then I understood that this role involves something that I always enjoyed: creating manuals and making the information more structured and easier to understand. I actually did it on my job for a previous employer without realizing that it was a different job. After this, I decided to go deep down into this profession and become a technical writer.
Anna: I worked as a teacher before, and I wanted to explore the world of technologies. So I started looking at the different education programs. As Annie, I didn’t know that such a type of profession existed. When I saw an ad with the title “Do you have pedagogical skills, and you are interested in technology?” I understood that it was me! Yeah, I’m thrilled that I have sent the application.
Magdalena: I worked at one place and finally realized that I no longer liked my job. I decided to analyze what parts of my job I really liked. It was collecting the information and explaining it to other people. I started searching for jobs, and a position as a technical writer was exactly what I was looking for. Though I’ve never worked with technologies before, during the last year, I discovered it was very fun, and it surprised me 🙂 Because I never thought about it.
What tasks do you like, and what is the most challenging part during your education and internship practice as a technical writer?
Annie: I adore creating manuals and actually helping the users with the information they consume. I also enjoy the teaching part of my tasks, where I give lessons and explain things to people.
The most challenging for me is English and the endless striving for perfection. Sometimes, the quality is not as expected, but it’s a good room for learning and improvement.
Anna: For me, the hardest part is researching and planning time for my work. I spend a lot of time on thinking and research to achieve the maximum quality, but it’s always hard to foresee in advance. And the most fun I get when I see the fruits of my hard work.
Magdalena: I liked to uncover new industries and businesses during my study. I haven’t started my LIA project yet since I was preparing my essay for five weeks. It was really cool to pick the subject and spend almost five weeks on research. When could I else spend so much time on this?
What skills are you developing now, and how do you think they will be helpful for your future career?
Annie: I can say that I’m developing the organizational skills the most now. I have always needed to organize and make things clear, and now I even have the tool to do this. So, it’s the most critical skill for me for now. Besides, I’m working on improving my English grammar and spelling. I have never found it interesting before, but now I enjoy my lessons.
Anna: I’m really learning a lot of things during my internship. Most of all, I’m developing my soft skills like teamwork and understanding of the processes inside the project.
Magdalena: I think the most important skill I’m developing now is time management. For example, sometimes you feel like you do many things, but eventually, you have nothing to show at the end of the day. So, I’m trying to learn how to plan my time correctly and not to mess up with my tasks.
How do you find the LIA project and Sigma Technology?
Annie: I expected to be well-treated and welcomed, but my experience exceeds that 🙂 People around me are friendly and helpful, and the environment is inclusive. I do really like my experience at Sigma.
Anna: Yeah, I agree with Annie. Although Sigma is a big company, you get a very warm welcome and friendly attitude, even if you are an intern.
Magdalena: I agree with Annie and Anna. I haven’t been to the Gothenburg office with them, but I visited the one in Stockholm. Everyone was amiable, and I had only positive things to say.
Annie: I can give an example. Anna, I, and three other students are located in Gothenburg, and when we started to look for an internship, we contacted Johan Thornadtsson, President at Sigma Technology Information, and told him about our learner’s team. He invited us to meet at Sigma’s office. Even though we didn’t plan to have the internship at Sigma, he said that he would be delighted to meet new people coming to the sphere. So here we are!
Are you a student and have a vision of what you would like your internship to be about? Contact us to see if we have a match.