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The beginning of my story of how I ended up working as an intern at Cadence, goes all the way back to my childhood days. As a child, literature always fascinated me, and I relished any time spent reading novels and comics. Writing was initially just a hobby, but when I developed some content for a friend's website during my college days, I enjoyed it so much that I was motivated to pursue writing as a career.
Immediately after my bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE), I worked as a technical recruiter and a software developer for some time. However, I continued to look for a role that was more aligned with my overall career interests. That was when I stumbled upon the job posting of Intern - Technical Communications at Cadence. I applied for this opening without a second thought, which as I look back now, turned out to be the best professional decision I’ve made to date. I was selected to join the Custom IC and PCB's (CPG) Technical Communications group! I was soon amazed to discover the range of contribution possibilities available to a Technical Communications Engineer at Cadence.
The new role was not limited to only writing traditional user guides and manuals, but also involved participating in a diverse set of initiatives like reviewing user interfaces, writing engaging blogs, and creating informative videos that impact Cadence customers in a positive way, helping them understand and use our highly technical EDA tools effectively. This blog aims to provide a sneak peek into these initiatives that I have been exposed to as an observer, contributor, and learner through my Cadence journey up till now.
Given that Cadence tools are complex, and it is not always possible to deploy engineers to handhold customers, these self-help initiatives go a long way in reducing support costs and training customers.
Soon after I joined the Technical Communications team, I was asked to undertake the Creating Effective Product Messages training module. After going through the module, I realized the importance of writing good product error messages, and how they helped to reduce support costs, R&D rework, and build a good rapport for Cadence and its tools in the market! I was surprised to hear that in the past 8 years, our team had worked closely with R&D engineers to improve over 17K error messages – isn’t that amazing?
Although I’ve not got the opportunity to implement a Task Assistant yet, I got particularly intrigued when I first saw a demo of it and was highly impressed upon discovering that such a useful help feature was conceptualized within the Technical Communications group. Task Assistant is a light-weight and context-sensitive in-tool help system that provides one-click access to support-information on the most common tasks related to a new feature. This greatly helps customers get up to speed as all the related knowledge collateral is at their fingertips! Nine implementations of Task Assistant have been delivered across Cadence Virtuoso tools in the past 12-18 months, and several more are in the works for Clarity, Celsius, and Voltus. See the following example to get an idea of how the Task Assistant looks like.
After attending the initial team meetings itself, I discovered that our team had been putting a lot of emphasis on improving tool usability, and how certain UI certified experts in the team had put together UI review guidelines for our R&D engineers. The domain of User Experience (UX) Design captured my interest and I took up a Coursera online course on it to learn more!
Subsequently, I was given an opportunity to present my learnings from the course in a team meeting and also review the existing User Interface (UI) guidelines collateral. I then observed how effectively some members of my team helped R&D to design effective UIs by conducting workshops. In August 2020, the CPG GUI team conducted two brown bag webinars that had 69 attendees from across different CPG product groups, such as Sigrity, Voltus, Virtuoso, Voltus-Fi, AVS, Genus, SVG, and so on.
I believe that blogs are undoubtedly a great medium to present complex EDA features to customers in an interesting way and was amazed to find out that the Technical Communications team was actively involved in publishing them. Blogs help promote product features and related knowledge collateral (RAKs, videos, etc.), share tips-n-tricks for effectively using Cadence tools, and address any concerns that our customers might have. The CPG Technical Communications team has had an important role to play in introducing and maintaining several blog series, such as Virtuosity, Virtuoso Video Diary, BoardSurfers, Voltus Voice, and Library Characterization Tidbits, which are now quite popular among our customer base. It’s awesome that over 250K unique views have been recorded for the 382 blogs published via our blog series.
We all appreciate that a video can be a better learning aid as opposed to a static document in certain cases, wherein intensive steps needs to be performed in the GUI.
In the CPG Technical Communications team, we collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs) to create videos on software demonstrations, simulations, and process flows to connect and engage with our customers. I was fortunate to get exposure to video development wherein I assisted my senior team members to develop the following videos – quite excited to note too that the audio you hear in the video was recorded by me:
Like blogs, videos too are quite popular among customers, which is evident by the fact that the CPG videos received more than 51k unique hits in 2019!
While I was not directly involved in content translation, I found it to be very helpful for customers who are not as conversant with English. Our team has a language translator who helps with translating some of our most-popular content into Mandarin. Recently, my team has also started working with Application Engineers in Japan to translate selected content to Japanese.
I have been an active volunteer for social work since my college days and was also a part of the National Service Scheme (NSS), which is an Indian government-sponsored public service program.
Since I joined Cadence, I have had many opportunities to volunteer for the Cadence Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities under the Cadence Cares program. The photos below bring together some of my cherished memories!
Overall, as you can probably tell from the blog post, my experience in Cadence has been very enriching up till now!
My colleagues, who are all helpful and creative, showed me the wonderful possibilities that I can explore. They trained me by following a systematic and detailed induction plan, which led to my overall development wherein I was challenged to think out of the box, strengthen my content development and proofreading skills, and acquire the knowledge to connect with our customers through all the initiatives that I’ve covered in my blog. To top it all, the list of possibilities in which I can participate keeps growing and evolving; for instance, these days I am working on a project based on topic-based authoring, a modular documentation approach which requires topics to be written independently, such that they are largely self-sufficient. These topics can then be used as context-sensitive online help accessible via a cloud-based help interface.
I'll leave you with a short video that I recorded with the other interns, in which we discuss about the nature of our job role and the exciting tasks that were assigned to us when we had this conversation. The good news is that all the individuals who have been featured in this video are now working as permanent staff in the CPG Technical Communications!