By Sarah Scott
Jul 27, 2017
Authored By: Sarah Scott
On a warm April morning, I arrived at Jungle Disk to interview for a summer internship. Texas’ one long mega-season meant it was already 90+ degrees outside, so it was hard to tell if the anticipation or the weather was making me sweat. I’ve done interviews before, of course, but they were all for regular teenage jobs. My former employers only wanted to know if I could make popcorn and sweep floors. Although those interviews were filled with questions like “What’s your biggest weakness?” they were really checking to see if 1) I looked like I could hold a broom and 2) I could answer customers’ questions without causing a one star Yelp review. Jungle Disk would be different.
For the first time, I was asked to define my own job. Jungle Disk wanted workers that could create something using the best of his or her own skills. By not assigning a specific task, interns would be able to make something unique. So, I went through Jungle Disk’s website, and tried to identify missing pieces. The lack of a user guide stood out to me. As an English major, I immediately jumped on the idea of writing a comprehensive user manual. I’d never read a user guide for software though, only guides for simple devices. This lead to an embarrassing moment in the interview – I tried to explain how my toothbrush’s user manual helped me understand the toothbrush, without specifying if it was an electric version. My interviewers must’ve wondered how I opened the door to get in the building without instructions printed on the handle.
Despite my inexperience, the company liked my idea. I was hired! After the first few days of setting up, I began to understand how much I needed to learn. Technical writers (people who create documentation for software) don’t write in well-known word processors like Microsoft Word. Programs like Atom are needed to manage all the sections of a guide. Even more importantly, technical writers don’t painstakingly code every HTML tag on a live website. With the help of Michael DeFelice, principal data scientist at Jungle Disk, I installed all the new tools I needed. I was afraid of using the Terminal before starting my job, fearing I would somehow delete the Mac version of System 32. Ten weeks later, I’d learned a new markup language, become comfortable with using a central repository and published a live website using Sphinx.
I’d like to thank everyone at Jungle Disk and the Students + Startups program for giving me this great experience. I went from worrying over the practicality of my English degree to gaining invaluable knowledge in a profession that needs writers. To the Jungle Disk customers reading this, I hope the user guide is helpful! If you ever feel lost in the world of data storage, don’t worry. If someone who once needed a manual for a toothbrush can conquer it, so can you.