As a Lawrence student, Gina Pirello, ’02, studied history focusing on ancient Latin and Greek, graduating with a double major in history and classics. She also managed to play on the tennis team for three seasons as well as sing in chorale and participate in several hall councils. She even spent a term participating in the ACM, Newberry Library program in Chicago, where she did intensive research. However, at the end of her four years, Gina knew that, though she enjoyed what she studied, she wanted to write for a living.
Gina didn’t know exactly what kind of writing she wanted to do until she found a technical writing position at Epic Systems. Gina had never done technical writing before, but she applied for the job while Epic was at Lawrence recruiting. She received and accepted the job and seems very happy with her decision. She has now been with the company for a little over a year.
Gina chose Epic Systems for several reasons. First of all, the job requires her to write all the time, which is what she loves to do. Also, location was a very important factor for Gina. She knew she wanted to live in Madison, WI which happened to be the location of Epic Systems. In addition, the young environment of the company attracted Gina. While Epic Systems has been around now for nearly 25 years, most of its employees recently completed their undergraduate degree. Finally, Epic Systems has a unique integration system. Since most of the new employees have little experience in the field of technical writing, there is an intense training period that lasts between three and six months that every employee must attend regardless of previous experience. This gives the new employees plenty of time to get to know each other. Gina claims that she met all of her friends in Madison through her work. Of the 45 people with whom she went through training, fifteen are now close friends.
The reality of the work satisfies Gina as well, although there were a few things to get used to. For example, the fact that, as a full time worker, one does not have scheduled, block breaks in spring or holiday time comes as a shock sometimes. Gina’s reality consists of working up until Christmas and having vacation time when she takes her vacation time. This change, though obviously a necessity in a real world job, takes a while to sink in. Her biggest complaint is that she does not have the time to learn as much as she would like about the different aspects of Epic. Also, around 70% of the writing she does involves software, and she would like to write about more varied subjects.
Epic provides hospitals with all their technical program needs from billing software to medical software. Currently, the writing Gina does deals with creating documentation for medical insurance software. However, Gina’s job includes more than just technical writing. She even teaches some classes from time to time to other employees, explaining the nature of her work, specifically, what kind of guides and forms she creates.
As a young Lawrence graduate, Gina Pirrello has done a lot. She works for a company with nearly 1,200 employees that provides software systems to hospitals all over the United States. Gina even lives in her own apartment in a young, thriving city. Although her current position does not directly relate to her Lawrence major, the critical writing skills she developed here as a history major definitely support her in her technical writing position.
Written by Rachel Baum