Two years ago she was on the verge of transferring from Wright State University to Eastern Kentucky. But Emma Harmeyer wanted to take one final course at Wright State so that she could transfer the credits.
So she took Professional and Technical Writing.
“I fell in love. It was technical but creative,” she said. “And I got to work with people who like to learn about everything. So I stayed. I’m extremely glad that I made that choice.”
Today, Harmeyer is steaming toward a degree in communication and has parlayed a technical-writing internship into what will become a full-time job.
In January, Harmeyer landed the internship in the Kettering office of Crown Packaging, a $22 million company that offers contract packaging, warehousing and containment and inspection services.
With guidance from Crown Chief Financial Officer Kathy Hinders — a Wright State English graduate — Harmeyer interviewed employees and observed processes to create work instructions and help-documents for a variety of programs as well as safety/training instructions. Harmeyer also oversaw other Wright State student interns who were writing instructions for a hand-held scanner used by employees.
“I learned a lot about myself and how I work,” she said. “I think they were pleasantly surprised at how quickly I got things done.”
Harmeyer grew up in nearby Huber Heights, the daughter of a graphic artist and medical technician. During Harmeyer’s senior year at Wayne High School, a math teacher encouraged her to pursue industrial engineering.
So she enrolled at Wright State in the industrial engineering honors program. A self-described people person, Harmeyer soon decided she wanted a major that would provide a career with more human interaction.
So she tried a few other majors — education, marketing, English — before finally finding a home in communication and falling in love with the technical-writing class taught by Lars Erik Söderlund.
Harmeyer says she is attracted to technical writing because it enables her to become an expert on a wide variety of subjects and then transform often hard-to-comprehend information into language that most people can get.
“So you’re often taking pages and pages of research and turning it into a paragraph that people can understand,” she said. “You have to be able to understand the technicalities of it, but also be able to put it into layman’s terms — not really dumb it down, but make it simple.”
Harmeyer says that after she first reads a highly technical document, she will jot down the two or three things that strike her as the most important. Then she will focus on those points in distilling and translating the document.
In October, Crown offered to expand Harmeyer’s hours and give her a full-time job when she graduates. She is hoping for a career with the company.
“I love it because I get to work with somebody in every department — customer service, production, engineering, inventory. I get to see every aspect of the company,” she said. “And I love the people there. They all care so much. I want to be a part of that.”
Harmeyer says a sense of community and faculty support are what make Wright State a special place.
“I have found professors who really care and will do anything to help you,” she said. “I could talk about Wright State for a really long time.”
Wright State is engaged in a $150 million fundraising campaign that promises to further elevate the school’s prominence by expanding scholarships, attracting more top-flight faculty and supporting construction of state-of-the-art facilities. Led by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of university namesakes Wilbur and Orville Wright, the campaign has raised more than $108 million so far.