#demystifyIT: Technical Writer – story by Oana Turnea

#demystifyIT: Technical Writer - story by Oana Turnea. ElaInTech.com (Ela Moscicka blog)

Hello and welcome to my new series: #demystifyIT!

I’m a career changer and I remember how limited my knowledge was when I was just starting in IT 11 years ago: which role to choose, what I could be good at?

Is programming the only ‘right’ career to follow?

What if I’m not technical enough?

The idea behind is it to show you that tech is beautiful, and there’s a place for everyone!

This week I’d like to introduce you to my amazing colleague Oana Turnea and her “career in tech” journey. You’ll also have a chance to learn more about her role as a Technical Writer!

Ela Mościcka: Hi Oana! It’s a pleasure to have you as my first guest in the #demystifyIT series! Can you tell us more about yourself and your current role (where are you based, role name and what do you exactly do – it might be a mystery for some people 😉 ).

Oana Turnea: Hi! I’m Oana. Oana Turnea to be more exact, and I love talking and writing.   

I live in Romania, in the Bucharest’s metropolitan area since 2003. I moved here when I got in at the Bucharest University and this is the place where I lived the longest period of my life.

My current role is that of a Technical Writer. I was lucky and blessed to be accepted in one of the greatest teams in Microsoft company, Teams Engineering.   

Although I graduated the Faculty of Letters and Literature, my whole career path was in IT.

In 2008 I joined an international company as a support desk analyst. For 5 years I’ve been through all stages of customer support until my manager noticed my writing skills and passion to organize.

In 2013 I was promoted in the role of Knowledge Specialist, handling the content and documentation database for a tool used by travel agents. My path changed at that time, but my advantage was that I had a strong knowledge of the tool.

In 2015 I took a break, giving birth and taking care of my son.

In the summer of 2016, I was crazy and bold enough to apply for a role at Microsoft. I had a low self-confidence, and it was a wonder for me when they sent me an offer.

It was a vendor role, Content Editor, for the Microsoft Partner Network team of advisors. I was having the same tasks as before: editing existing content, writing new content, joining meetings, and chasing SMEs.

Due to organization changes, in 2019 I joined another team at Microsoft, as an Instructional Designer. This was a great experience which opened my mind towards different areas of connecting with the audience. There is such a big difference between the two roles, and I noticed people often confuse the tasks and responsibilities of these roles.  

Oana with her friends celebrating 10 years from University graduation
Oana with her friends celebrating 10 years from University graduation

In April 2020 I left Microsoft and joined Oracle as a Technical Writer. Again, I had the odds on my side, and I joined a great team! It was all even more technical for a literature graduate. I was under the impression I have no clue what I am doing but apparently, I was doing a good job as my projects got more diverse. I collaborated with people from different teams, managers, product owners, project manager, engineers.   

The role of Technical Writer is still a mystery to many organizations. The past two years have changed the general opinion but there is a long way to reach a more transparent and clear definition.  

It’s not the nature of the role that confuses, but the different applicability.

In my path I noticed two major flavors of this role, which is not such a big mystery, as others confirm it as well:  
A. This role is that of an engineer with good organizational and writing skills.  
B. This role is held by a good language and organization passionate with a clue of what IT field is about.  

I’ve always been in the second category. This structure is more of a reference to the origins of a Technical Writer inside an organization. But at the same time it’s a guide on what tasks Technical Writers have.   

Don’t get me wrong! It’s not enough to check 3 lines on a list and you qualify to the role. As with all roles, it’s about exercise. It’s about getting the big picture and making your own way through the web of IT and all its wires.   

To conclude, a Technical Writer is that person who talks with everyone, gathers information, analyses sources, and gets validation on content. Then they write, or they create videos or other forms of content. This content may have internal audience or external or both.

Sometimes the Technical Writer is a gatekeeper of many types of information, sensitive details, and complex structures. Sometimes the Technical Writer is the “doorman” who knows everyone “in the building” and guides requestors to find what they need. Other times the Technical Writer is the assistance doing all the administrative chores.

A Technical Writer may be the librarian who guides you towards what you need but also the author of a good book. A Technical Writer must know and use the product they write about. To which extend? Well that depends. It’s a detail held by each team and organization. 

Ela: Let’s take a step back: what were you doing before joining Microsoft?

Oana: Before joining Microsoft in 2016, I was a Senior Knowledge Specialist at Stefanini. Handling a database of knowledge articles along with a team of 5 people.

I was exploring my passion for writing on a personal blog which I deleted in 2018. I had less and less free time to take care of it so I decided to close that experience.

Before joining Microsoft in 2022 I was a Technical Writer at Oracle, in the Demo Engineering team, part of the Design organization.

I was creating content in various forms: written guides, videos, knowledgebase articles, PPTs, internal websites, organizing TOI (Transfer Of Information) monthly meetings held by my manager, creating-updating-promoting templates in agreement with organisation design updates.

I always tried to be at the pace of the industry trends. I joined conferences on my favourite topics: technical content, the Write the Docs -Portland edition– in April 2021 and 10th International Conference on Technical Communication: Time and Space – Paris edition- in January 2022.

I read a lot and I check the posts of people in the industry, such as ITCQF community from Warsaw. 

Oana during Microsoft Tech 2019 event
Oana during Microsoft Tech 2019 event

Ela: When you decided you want to join Microsoft? And how did you make it? (Any tips here are more than welcomed!)

Oana: The first time I decided to join Microsoft, I took a decision based on feelings. I was fed up and I needed to see if I was good at what I do.

The second time it was a more calculated and planned move. The FTE role was a dream role for someone who previously experienced a vendor role.

Beside this, in 2016 Microsoft marked my mindset and changed my vision on life and work forever. I “zing” with the culture, the beliefs and the ideas that Microsoft promotes. This is the right word, you read it correctly.  It’s a chemistry mystery which sometimes is hard for me to explain as I feel it and I own it.  

My tips?! Hmmmm. Only one: LISTEN TO YOUR HEART! Then train your mind to follow your dream and stop creating challenges for you instead of creating opportunities. 

Ela: Can you share some challenges or learnings from your journey in tech?  

Oana: Learnings: I always pay attention to the feedback others give me. I listen to their advice.

But first of all, I fail! And I fail a lot! Because I am stubborn. I have less patience and I want fast results. Sounds familiar? 😊

It’s ok to fail and it’s ok to try as many times as you need. It’s ok to apply and get rejected. You have no idea how many rejections I had!

But in the end, when I get at the bottom of it, I start remembering those advices and I start action as such. Results come.

Sometimes you get a fast result, sometimes it’s so late you forget about your goal.

But I am an optimist and I believe that good stuff awaits. So keep going if you feel it’s a good path for you. It may be hard, but it must feel good following your road.  

PS: I used to say I am a late bloomer. That’s false and it’s sending bad energy in the Universe.

We all bloom at the right time in the right moment for us. As we are all one of kind out of millions and millions of others in the Planet.  

Oana with her family
Oana with her family

Hugs, Oana.

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