Adrian Velonis ‘22 is working at a unique intersection of his two areas of expertise. The computer science and English double major is working as a technical writer at Liquibase, a software company that provides automation for database schema changes in order to increase security and efficiency. Though Liquibase is based in Austin, Texas, Velonis is working remotely from his home in Philadelphia, like many of the company’s operatives, who are spread out across the country.
As a technical writer, Velonis’ job is to document Liquibase’s software, and curate an effective and accessible user manual for customers interested in using it. He collaborates with engineers throughout the company in order to create guides.
“I make sure our docs are consistent, accessible, and organized using a program called MadCap Flare, which stores the content in XML files,” Velonis said. “We use a few other tools to put our content online, including GitHub and Jenkins. I often use regular expressions for maintenance tasks and occasional scripts to keep things running.”
Velonis first worked with Liquibase as a technical writing intern the summer before his senior year. He then continued to work part-time during his final year at Haverford, and transitioned to full-time work after he graduated. He recognized the important role that both his computer science and writing skills have played in making him a perfect fit at the company.
“We try to be precise with our language; the best technical writing is concise and simple enough to be understood by non-experts,” he said. “I do a different kind of writing at work than I did academically, but being able to give cogent explanations of something obscure or complicated is a skill applicable in each context. Writing-intensive courses taught me how to closely evaluate the topic and my audience, regardless of the subject matter.”
He also said that Haverford’s array of computer science classes also provided him with skills he uses every day. In particular, he recalled classes such as “Linux in Systems Programming,” “Computer Security”, “Theory of Computation,” “Software Engineering,” and “Databases in Practice” as being useful to his career. He also thinks his experience as co-editor-in-chief of the Bi-College News, prepared him for a job where he has to write for a particular audience.
“Journalistic writing taught me about the way people actually interact with documents… It also forced me to be more clear, specific, and brief in my writing,” he reflected. He was ultimately inspired to declare a second major in English by the late Michael Tratner, professor of literatures in English at Bryn Mawr College.
“He was really excited about my interdisciplinary interests and seemed very confident that I would find something fulfilling to do after graduation,” Velonis recalled. He additionally thanked his professors Christina Zwarg and John Dougherty for their teaching styles which made their fields (English and computer science, respectively) more approachable.
Velonis advised fellow students who are interested in software to ask questions and always continue learning, rather than falling victim to imposter syndrome.
“It’s a cliché, but the best engineers and technical writers aren’t omniscient, they just aren’t afraid to ask questions when something doesn’t make sense,” he said. “It’s a matter of practicality: if I can’t understand a piece of information I’ve found in my research as a technical writer, my audience will have trouble too. Best to clear it up.”
Velonis plans to stay with Liquibase as technical writer, but has an interest in eventually also pursuing software engineering or “DevOps,” development and operations. For the time being, however, he is spending his time improving at Scottish dancing, another passion of his. That passion led him all across the country this summer, and even to Scotland itself. He is excited for future opportunities in both technical writing and dancing.
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series chronicling the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.