MS in Professional Writing (MSPW) alum, Maggie McGwin, is currently a Technical Writer for product development at Palantir Technologies. In this role, Maggie collaborates with Palantir’s various product teams to write, revise, and maintain documentation for applications, features, and services. Learn more about her experiences below.
Q: Tell us about your Technical Writer role with Palantir!
A: As a Technical Writer at Palantir Technologies, I help our many product teams write, revise, and maintain documentation for applications, features, and services. I work closely with SMEs, developers, and designers to review, edit, and approve a variety of content. I enrolled in the MS in Professional Writing (MSPW) program with the goal of becoming a full-time Technical Writer. Having joined the Palantir team, I have to say that I've never felt more fulfilled in a job before. I've also never truly had a job that I considered a capital-C "Career" before. But I do now and it is a perfect fit. I'm so grateful that the MSPW program led me here.
Q: What made you realize that writing was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
A: I've always been a "talented" academic writer, but I never liked writing much until I got to college and realized I could write about and study (mostly) whatever I wanted. I pursued a few different career paths before deciding to merge my six years of technical troubleshooting knowledge with writing that I actually enjoyed. I learned more about Technical/UX Writing in the MSPW program and never looked back.
Q: Talk about how the MSPW helped shape who you are as a writing professional. Do any specific mentors, books, or experiences stand out?
A: When I started in the MSPW, I mostly just knew writing jobs existed in some way. I had no idea how to gain the skills for those roles or find them in the job market. I discovered how to access the world of professional writing from the MSPW program. Some of the most influential courses I took were UX Writing, Information Architecture, and Technical Writing (special thanks to Dr. Matthew Vaughan, who was a great support and mentor to me). I realized just how much I loved solving problems with microcopy, formatting, and structure; I hope to continue to build my career in this writing sphere.
Q: What advice would you give to a professional writer interested in a career like yours?
A: Don't let Imposter Syndrome get in your way. Ask more questions; plenty of other people probably have the same ones. Make honest connections with as many people and teams as you can. Embrace your curiosity to learn as much as you can. Document your accomplishments and all the ways you improved in your role. Take a lunch break!
Q: In your role and industry, how important is collaboration? With whom do you collaborate?
Collaboration is everything for technical writers. I'm always working with developers and designers to learn about what they are building so that I can write, edit, or verify documentation. As a technical writer, I also communicate with other teams that need to review content from a legal and information security perspective. Collaboration is just a huge part of my job. We're constantly updating, asking for help, and solving problems. And having fun as a team, of course!
To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing program at NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu/mspw
To learn more about available careers at Palantir Technologies, visit https://www.palantir.com/careers/. Open technical writing roles are currently available in New York City, Washington D.C, and London offices.