DEV Community πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»

Cover image for Everyone Can Do DevRel (But Should They?)
Aditya Oberai for Appwrite

Posted on

Everyone Can Do DevRel (But Should They?)

One thing that I can say, having spent three years in communities and over ten months as a DevRel professional at Appwrite, is that Developer Relations (or DevRel) isn’t just a job but a philosophy. DevRel is something we can do by helping developers in our communities, sharing knowledge through our content, or writing code and building projects. That being said, should everyone be rushing towards a job in Developer Relations? Recently, I have observed a bubble developing around this space. I want to take this blog as an opportunity to share my opinion on whether everyone should chase DevRel as a career.

Does that make sense

Before deciding whether everyone should become a DevRel professional, let’s discuss what DevRel is.

Understanding DevRel πŸ€”

Developer Relations, or DevRel, is a domain that focuses on maintaining relationships with the folks building on an organization's technologies or products.

Essentially DevRel acts as the bridge between the code and the community. DevRel folks are often responsible for maintaining communication between organizations and developers to ensure a better information flow and feedback loop. Thus, both entities have a better experience and growth path.

DevRel Bridge

DevRel teams came into inception because as we move towards a more technologically-enabled world, we see more people developing solutions to problems using programming and computer science and more companies catering to such folks. With more and more organizations catering their services to developers, it became apparent that these organizations need people who can build with their platforms, communicate with developers, educate newcomers, grow their audience, etc. DevRel aims to fit this gap precisely.

Now that we’ve discussed what DevRel is, let’s talk briefly about what skills and experience DevRel practitioners need to succeed.

What Experience Should DevRel Practitioners Possess πŸ’Ό

Considering that DevRel can be viewed as an amalgam of code, content, and community, most roles in this space need you to be a jack of all three trades while being a master of (at least) one. As a Developer Advocate at Appwrite, I provide technical assistance and contribute to our product aside from creating content for our blog and social media, developing new community initiatives, and so on.

My experience has taught me that, while there is always space to learn, as a DevRel practitioner (for example, Developer Advocate), you should gain experience on all three fronts (whether through dedicated jobs or by alternate means) before rushing into this career, and here is why:

Writing Code πŸ§‘β€πŸ’»

The time I spent learning how to build projects and working on real-world solutions (through self-defined problems or my internship) has substantially helped me in my DevRel journey. Understanding the pros and cons of the product I advocate for from a technical standpoint allows me to build a better sense of developer empathy for our community members. If I couldn’t build with our product, it would be impossible for me to relate to their problems and help solve them. Moreover, being able to code allows me to experience the Developer Experience of our product and offer feedback to our engineers, which enables better product development.

People writing code at a computer

Creating Content πŸ“

One key factor for any successful DevRel team is communicating with the brand and product’s audience; content enables that in the best way possible. It’ll allow you to advocate for your product more accurately and increase your likability and relatability, which also benefits your personal and organization’s brands. Therefore, being able to create and deliver content (written, audio, or video) is a skill that DevRel practitioners must develop.

A pen and diary in front of a laptop

Building Communities πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦

My journey toward Developer Relations started by volunteering in communities. From leading a hackathon community (among others) to working as a Community Intern at a coding education company, I gained experience in planning new initiatives, managing their execution, collaborating with external stakeholders, building an audience, sustaining engagement, and maintaining brand growth. This experience gave me insights into how companies perceive communities and why they are necessary for user feedback and audience growth. Like it or not, being a DevRel professional, you are contributing to the business at the end of the day. Aside from learning how to work with larger groups of people, building communities helps to evaluate how you can impact the growth of an organization.

A workshop with an audience

Is DevRel Just Another Fad? πŸ’­

While I firmly insist that DevRel isn’t a fad, currently, a bubble is beginning to exist. Far too many people are prematurely rushing toward this domain for three reasons:

  • DevRel might seem like an easier, more accessible way into tech than software development (in all honesty, this isn’t true at all!)
  • DevRel provides people with a platform where their voice seems to matter more.
  • DevRel work can help grow someone’s personal brand.

Truthfully, anyone chasing a DevRel career in this manner often does not sustain here for long. This is because DevRel has so much beneath the tip of the iceberg. Aside from just speaking at stages and delivering pre-planned content or engaging with people in communities and social media, people in DevRel are often invested in various functions such as developer experience testing and feedback, sample application development, planning new community initiatives, technical and community thought leadership, quantifying the impact the community has on the product’s growth, and more depending on what their products need. Many of these aren’t always done publicly, so it is difficult to perceive them.

It is necessary to evaluate whether these are functions you want to be involved in. Pre-maturely deciding whether DevRel is the space for you can also cause you to burn out rather severely and impact your career direction!

A working professional sitting stressed out

Taking This Decision πŸ›£οΈ

Truthfully, the decision on whether you want to start a career in Developer Relations isn’t one you need to rush. I spent two years volunteering in communities and worked for five months as a Community Intern, two months as a User Research Intern, and two months as a Software Developer Intern (aside from other contractual obligations) before I made up my mind to apply for my first Developer Relations role. These experiences, when combined, allowed me to understand my skills and experiences, which allowed me to develop my aspirations in this space.

The truth is that code, content, and community are vast spaces of their own; you can very well fall in love with any of these spaces individually and pursue your career there, or at least give yourself a chance to fail and move forward. As long as you spend time understanding the most suitable space for you to work in, you’ll be absolutely fine!

We're all gonna be okay


A Little about Appwrite πŸ’½

Appwrite is an open-source Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS), packaged as a set of Docker microservices to give developers of any background the tools necessary to build modern apps quickly and securely.

Chat with us on Discord, or learn more about Appwrite:

Check out Appwrite as the backend for your next web, Flutter, or server-side application. Here are some handy links for more information:

  1. Appwrite Contribution Guide
  2. Appwrite Discord
  3. Appwrite GitHub
  4. Appwrite Documentation

Top comments (25)

Collapse
opedroaravena profile image
Pedro Aravena

Great article. I am a developer advocate for almost 6 months now, I learn new stuff about being a DevRel basically everyday! It is an awesome opportunity to develop different skills and help others!

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thank you @opedroaravena 😁

Collapse
blackgirlbytes profile image
RizΓ¨l Scarlett • Edited on

Really enjoyed reading this article. Interesting perspective! I agree that it's not the most accessible path into tech even though it seems that way.

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thanks a lot @blackgirlbytes πŸ˜πŸ™Œ

Collapse
opedroaravena profile image
Pedro Aravena

Great article. I am a developer advocate for almost 6 months now, I learn new stuff about being a DevRel basically everyday! It is an awesome opportunity to develop different skills and help others!

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thank you @opedroaravena 😁

Collapse
angelod1as profile image
Angelo Dias

Great article!

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thanks @angelod1as 😁

Collapse
akshitadixit profile image
Akshita Dixit

"More accessible way into tech", honestly wasn't ever able to defend this in front of people. Well curated!

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

I've honestly faced the same difficulty in the past (still do sometimes), when it hit me that you don't need to justify to those who won't listen, because they don't care enough anyway. Just try and educate those who want to understand :)

Collapse
ruannawrites profile image
Ruanna

Great article!

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thanks @ruannawrites 😁

Collapse
krishchopra22 profile image
Krish Chopra

Really Insightful & much needed blog! πŸ™ŒπŸ»

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thanks @krishchopra22 πŸ˜„

Collapse
krishnaagarwal profile image
Krishna Agarwal

Amazing !

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thanks @krishnaagarwal 😁

Collapse
ankush981 profile image
Ankush Thakur

Yup! I have certain personality attributes that once made me think I'd kill it in something like DevRel but eventually I realized I'm better suited for other tasks.

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

It's wonderful to hear that you were able to make the best choice for yourself! I hope more people do so too 😁

Collapse
shantoie profile image
Shantoie Vorster

Awesome article, thank you for sharing!

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thanks @shantoie 😁

Collapse
harshadyelpale profile image
Harshad Yelpale

Informative

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thanks @harshadyelpale πŸ˜„

Collapse
nirupamasingh profile image
Nirupama Singh

Very very insightful 🀌🏻

Collapse
adityaoberai profile image
Aditya Oberai Author

Thank you @nirupamasingh πŸ˜„

Collapse
cesscode profile image
Cess

Great article... Thanks for sharing... Its difficult to get dev rel internship roles or junior roles for beginners on LinkedIn, can anyone direct me to a website where I can see devrel opportunities

🌚 Friends don't let friends browse without dark mode.

Sorry, it's true.