TPC Alumni, Computer Software/Hardware
By Greg Buckner
From interning for David Letterman to working for the bad boys of Motown, Technical and Professional Communication alum Mike Potter has had an interesting journey as a technical communicator.
Mike’s foray into the world of technical communication began when he came into the Technical and Professional Communication program at Ferris State University. “I enrolled in TPC right away because I thought it encompassed everything I wanted to do in college,” said Potter.
While at Ferris State University, Mike was influenced by many individuals. One of his first mentors was Joe Gorby, who served as the Sports Information Director at Ferris during Mike’s college career.
Mike said that Gorby introduced him to the world of sports information and got him interested in a technical writing career. Mike was also influenced by journalism professor Dennis Ruzicka, who helped mentor him in the field of journalism.
After a couple of years in the TPC program, Mike was able to land an internship working for “The Late Show with David Letterman.” When asked about his experience, Mike replied, “It was the most amazing time of my life. I matured a lot in that time, basically because I was out in New York alone, working in a high-pressure environment.” Mike then followed up his Ferris State University career by moving on to Ball State University where he went on to earn his master’s degree.
After completing his education, Mike was able get into his present job working for the Detroit Pistons to maintain and update the Pistons’ website. Mike was able to land the job because of his background in web design and his experience with sports journalism.
Within his position, Mike has to maintain all the official websites for the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Shock, and the Palace itself. Mike is responsible for developing content, announcing concerts, editing content, and various other activities related to keeping the websites updated and professional.
Mike’s normal work day starts at 8:30 am, when he begins by making sure the content on the website is properly updated. Mike usually spends most of his day in meetings, working with staff at the Palace, and having to meet with NBA web staff of all the other franchises.
When meeting with Palace staff, the meetings usually cover upcoming games, and how they can stay updated. After a day full of meetings, Mike’s work day usually ends at 5 pm, although his work quite frequently spills into his out-of-office time.
Among the challenges Mike has had to face in his job is a revolving door of staff and colleagues. His newly-hired boss quit just two months after Mike’s arrival at the Palace. Mike also has had to deal with restructuring of the entire web department since his arrival.
Technology is something that many technical communicators have to deal with on a daily basis. For Mike, it’s the basis of his career. Mike uses a laptop, issued by the Palace, to maintain the sites with multiple software programs that help him update and design content. Mike is also very reliant on his Blackberry, which he uses to keep himself updated on the latest happenings when he is out of the office.
When looking back on his career, Mike’s journey has taken him on an interesting path. When asked if he would do anything differently along the way, Mike said he wouldn’t change much except that he would have taken more courses dealing with software programs, so that he would have been more prepared to learn and adapt to new software
Mike’s career path is a great example of a career in technical communication—it can go in directions you never expect. When asked if he had advice for new technical writing students, Mike emphasized this point, “Be open to the different opportunities that are going to come your way, because you never know where an opportunity may take you.”