I first encountered MCommunity in the summer before my first year at Michigan. I had joined one of many group chats for incoming students and it mentioned a Facebook-like service at U-M called MCommunity. I had no recollection of it being mentioned in orientation and glanced over my profile and those of a few professors before closing the tab unimpressed.
Fast-forward a year, during the ITS summer internship that is my first foray into the world of Information technology, I was offered the opportunity to work on the MCommunity Transformation project. The project is the first major update to the MCommunity platform in several years; it is an all-encompassing modernization, spanning everything from a mobile-friendly, accessible interface redesign to a new system for sending and receiving group email.
As a member of the ITS Information Assurance Education and Engagement team, I was tasked with streamlining, rewriting, and altogether updating the extensive MCommunity user documentation. The documentation, like the system it supports, needed quite a lot of help meeting the needs of the modern-day U-M community. From outdated screenshots to beige speech bubbles containing more text than the pages that housed them, my work was cut out for me.
With careful guidance from colleagues in Information Assurance, I’ve now written and edited several crucial articles, such as <About Your MCommunity Profile>, just in time for user testing. Thus far, the reception seems both positive and understated; as far as documentation is concerned, that’s the best possible outcome.
In being part of the team working to improve a system I had found so puzzling, I not only developed valuable skills, but helped make MCommunity more accessible to the university at large. For any future interns in a situation like mine, here is what I have learned:
- Don’t be afraid to jump in: everyone starts somewhere.
- Ask those questions: for every question I’ve had (even the frivolous ones), my colleagues have had an eager answer.
- There is no I in team: as much as I’ve described these documents as “mine”, it really is a collaborative process. Their authorship is shared among myself, many helpful editors, and the brave writers who set out to create the initial documentation over a decade ago.
- Rely on your colleagues: Your coworkers are the most valuable part of an internship, and for as much as I’ve learned in the classroom, it simply doesn’t compare to the wealth of practical answers experienced colleagues can provide.
As we near the end of the internship program, it’s deeply satisfying to know that my contributions to the MCommunity Transformation project will have a real-world impact, if a humble one. I hope that my words clear a path for a future student as clueless as I was a year ago, and I hope the future intern tasked with modernizing my inevitably outdated documents in another ten years learns as much from the process as I have this summer.