Starting this Spring, Patrick Gray will be joining the MS in Professional Writing to teach our elective in Technical Writing. Patrick is currently a Senior Technical Writer at Google on the Internal Developer Relations team. Throughout his technical writing career, Patrick has worked across the software industry for large enterprise companies and startups, serving in many roles within the technical writing profession. He has managed writing teams, operated a consulting business, and contributed many different types of documentation from end-user focus to developer docs. Patrick holds a Master’s of Science in Technical Writing from Northeastern University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Case Western Reserve University. Learn more about Patrick in the short interview below!
Q: What drew you into Technical Writing?
A: Technical writing is a second career for me. I worked in laboratories for several years after graduating with my BS, but never really connected with that work. In one of these roles, I served as a department trainer, developing and editing SOPs and training material. I realized I really enjoyed the communication and training parts of that role. A friend suggested that I become a technical writer if I wanted to continue doing work like that. After doing some research on Technical Writing as a profession, I was impressed by the work life balance, the potential for professional growth, and the available salaries. I was fortunate to land my first full time technical writing job while I was still seeking my Master’s degree.
Q: What's new and exciting in the Technical Writing field just now?
A: With the advent of new large language models (content generating AI), I think the technical writing field is growing and changing faster than ever before. There is a ton of opportunity to use and develop AI tools that assist in writing, editing, or even summarizing human-written content. Many writers are incredibly excited about the new AI technology for synthesizing secondary content like summaries, knowledge checks, and learning paths.
Q: In teaching this elective, what are you looking forward to the most?
A: As I have gotten further into my career, I have found that some of the most refreshing and interesting conversations I have are with junior technical writers. Folks who are new to the profession always bring great ideas and new perspectives. I look forward to seeing the profession through the eyes of the MSPW students, and hearing their stories and ideas about the future. Helping to guide students through a writing degree and watching them get established as technical writers will be highly rewarding for me!
Q: What's an unexpected skill that you've found to be important in your career?
A: When I started the career, I knew that I would have to be a strong writer, but I think one of the key skills of being a technical writer is being a good listener and interviewer. So much of the profession involves taking highly complex information from subject matter experts and synthesizing it for a specific audience. I think I was unprepared for how social the role of the technical writer is, but it was a pleasant surprise. Technical writers often get to “wear many hats” on software engineering teams, so there’s always opportunity to exercise a new skill, or contribute in ways that you might not have imagined.
Q: What is your favorite font?
Q: What else should students know about you?
A: I am a connoisseur of mechanical keyboards. I’ve built 10 keyboards that I rotate at home and at my office.
Please join us in welcoming Patrick Gray to the MSPW Teaching Team this Spring!