Interesting Fact: If you asked me in mid-2020 what Developer Relations (or DevRel) was and what a Developer Relations professional did, I literally would have had no idea what to say.
But a year and half later from having general ignorance on the DevRel profession, I feel that I have found my "career home" in the DevRel space.
For those not super familiar with the concept of DevRel or Developer Relations, DevRel is a somewhat broad concept that essentially encompasses individuals and professionals whose job it is to equip developers with knowledge and create developer focused communities that enable developers to adopt new technologies, learn new skills or excel in their development role as a whole. It's contains a broad spectrum of roles that include Developer Advocates, Tech Evangelists, Developer Marketers, Developer Relations Managers and much more. Fundamentally, it’s individuals who aim to introduce developers to new technologies or aim to create environments that allow developers to thrive.
This was all new to me(as I’ve shared in a talk I did recently at DevRelCon 2021) but I didn’t realize that my technical experience, my life passions, and my personal career/life goals made me a perfect fit for DevRel. And now I can say with confidence and certainty, that I'll be working in this space for many years to come.
So in this blog I want to share a few things that helped to show me that DevRel was a perfect fit for me. These indicators helped me to see how great of a match DevRel was for me and hopefully this helps those who are considering DevRel and are not sure if it may be for them.
1. I Love to See Others Succeed
When I was a kid, I had a big sharing problem. At the beginning of each school year, my parents would send me to school with all my needed school supplies but a few days in, I would be asking for more school supplies. My parents would be abit confused on what happened to everything they had given me but would "re-supply" me. But to my parents dismay, I'd "run out" of supplies very soon thereafter. They were completely confused on what was happening until they went to school for a teacher-parent conference. They learned that their son was well loved by all of his fellow classmates because he was an incredible sharer. Mini-Bradston would just give away all of his school supplies to all his classmates in need, leaving himself with none; much to my parent’s financial detriment.
I share this story because for some reason, this has been an innate part of my personality my whole life. I’ve found that it wasn’t that I enjoy sharing but that I really enjoy seeing other people happy and seeing other people succeed. Even if it means my success is somewhat diminished, I LOVE seeing people grow and get closer to their own goals. And this trait has wonderfully translated into my DevRel life.
From the very beginning, what drew me to DevRel was the idea of helping enable developers to accomplish their goals, either through technology or community. Coming from a development background, I know how meaningful it has been for me to have people teach me new technologies, assist me in my career goals, and encourage me along the way. And to know that I could be in a role that was ALL about other's success was incredibly exciting to me and seemed immensely rewarding.
For me, the idea of being able to help others succeed made me feel that DevRel was for me. And as I have continued to work in this space, I fall more in love with that aspect of it every day. In many ways, DevRel is an extension of what I already desire to do and I look forward to doing it more and more.
2. Creating Content Makes Me Feel Alive
To really illustrate this point, I will directly quote one of my good friends, Kyle Smith, as I believe he perfectly encapsulates how I feel about content creation:
“Being creative is when I feel the most alive. And so, whether it be playing music, or drawing, or game development; something that is that creative outlet. I just enjoy making stuff.”
(Skip to 00:46 to hear the quote)
I cannot express to you how deeply those words resonate in me. It’s hard to describe in words but I absolutely love creating new creative content and trying to make things that express who I am as a person. Throughout my life, creative expression is what has helped me to stay positive in the darkest times and has given me hope when things have truly felt hopeless. It is such an integral part of my character, it’s hard to imagine a day where I’m not actively creating something or thinking about the next thing I'm going to create.
And in that way, DevRel has been a natural fit. From the very first day of my DevRel journey as a Developer Advocate, I went straight into content creation mode. I’ve implemented ideas that engage developers in genuine ways, created videos to illuminate technical content, developed and delivered talks at conferences to reach a broader audience in the DevRel community, and as you can probably guess, write blogs whenever possible.
There are several different expressions of DevRel roles and some are less about content creation than others but from my short time in DevRel, I have seen the most success in come to those who create content genuinely, emphatically and consistently. If the content creation element resonates with you as well, DevRel might resonate with you just as much.
3. Building Community is Second Nature
If you have had a chance engage with my content across the different platforms I publish on, you may have noticed one of my largest tendencies; calling everybody who views or listens to my content family or “fam”. I’m not absolutely sure how that comes across to those who are viewing my content but know that I use the word “family” or “fam” genuinely.
This may not be extremely obvious but I truly desire to connect with people in a meaningful and real way. With everything I do, I hope to create an atmosphere of openness and kindness that could somehow permeate the digital divide. My whole motivation is to create community; to create a world where we ALL feel like we are family and that we ALL think of each other in a positive light that is truly mutually beneficial. An environment where we can all grow and thrive together.
Me and my B-boying (Breakdancing) crew/family after performing for a Jerry Springer Retrospective show at my college back in the day
To me this is how I handle everything in my life. If it’s in my physical family, if it's at my church, if it's on the job or if it’s in the various hobbies I’ve participated in throughout my life with others; my goal is to build community. For me, community is a space that allows those in it to express themselves honestly and to be as authentic as possible. I'm not very interested in making a “cool and exclusive” clubs. But I do love to create truly open environments for those who want to engage and connect with others who would like to do the same.
DevRel naturally tends to draw in those who are community builders. I’ve seen DevRel expressed in its many different forms and it's always all about the people; the developer. In order to be successful in DevRel, you have to humanize the technical experience and find a way to speak to your audience in a real way. It’s definitely possible to be in DevRel and not aim to be a community builder but it feels as if you are fighting against the heart of Developer Relations which focuses on the connection between the people (the developer) and DevRel professionals.
For me being in DevRel has been an incredible experience and something that I've been very blessed to have found. Just like any profession or any career field, DevRel isn’t for everyone but for those who find a home in it, it can be a truly rewarding experience.
To be clear, even if none of the things that I wrote above are resonating with you personally, that does not mean DevRel is not for you. This is all from my personal perspective and my hope is that this blog can help someone else who might be considering DevRel and looking for indicators if it might be for them.
Now, To all my DevRel fam out there, What let you know that DevRel was a good fit for you? And for my aspiring DevRel Fam and those considering DevRel, what has drawn you to the space and what makes you think it may be a good fit?
I would LOVE to hear from you all!
As always, Thank you so much for reading this blog!
Take it easy,
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Top comments (5)
Bradston, thanks for such an interesting post! As a fellow software engineer into Devrel, I can totally relate to your thoughts!
I've been a Devrel engineer at my current workplace for a bit over an year. It was a career transition from full-stack/webdev, a role that I worked in earlier for many years.
I made this transition almost by accident. For years working as a software engineer, I would produce content in my free time, in the form of blog posts and technical deep dives. Just like you, I loved to see other people succeed - so I volunteered as an editor at a bunch of publications too, to help other developers publish and succeed as a writer.
My passion was eventually discovered on social media by the company that I work for now, and they offered me this role. Needless to say, I enjoy this kind of work - where not only I code, but I also talk about code! 😁 Here's our engineering blogs on dev.to and our website!
That's a really awesome story @booleanhunter!
Happy to see a fellow Dev turned DevRel. So cool that the content you created in your free time helped you to get the role you have now!
An interesting read, I wasn't aware of DevRel/DevAd until I was offered a position for one. It's still my initial days as a DevAd but loving the various things that I do!
It was almost the same for me. I actually applied for a Dev role when the hiring manager told me the Dev role was closed but wanted to see if I might be interested in a Dev Advocacy role. I was like "This is a thing?!?" haha.
Truly a happy accident!