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Josefine Schfr
Josefine Schfr

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Getting into Developer Relations 101

Developer Relations, Developer Evangelism or Advocacy - whatever you call it, might seem a little mysterious at first glance. The job role usually includes various tasks and responsibilities, including community involvement, public speaking, attending technical conferences, writing documentation or recording tutorials. Sometimes it’s being almost an ambassador of the company you work for, sometimes can feel like a funny junction of Marketing, Engineering and Sales.

Given how diverse these jobs are, naturally, people come to it from very different backgrounds. There is no one straightforward path into this role. Regardless, let’s explore a bit what you could do to position yourself for your first job in DevRel.

Level up your Technical Skills

Even though you are not exclusively coding and deep technical knowledge is not a hard requirement for all dev rel roles, it will certainly help (a lot) to have technical knowledge. Don’t worry - you don’t have to know it all. Find areas or technologies you are curious about - maybe that’s a specific framework, maybe certain tools - and deepen your knowledge. The important thing here is that you are passionate about what you do, not necessarily what it is - the skills you learn will likely be transferable and give you a general understanding of technology you can later apply to other topics.

Continue Learning (in Public)

Also important: it’s a journey, not necessarily an end goal - as developers, we continuously need to adapt to changes and stay open-minded - and that’s no different for Developer Relations positions. This is not for everyone, but if you dare to learn in public - be that in blog posts, tweets, videos or streams - you can take others along on your journey; you are feeding many birds with one scone: You get to communicate your passion about a specific topic, build your presence online, share your knowledge and learn at the same time. By sharing the process with others, you will receive valuable feedback, meet new people and be able to improve much quicker than you would on your own. (Not to say that it isn’t also a little very scary to put yourself out there)

Choose your own adventure

Not everyone likes public speaking. Just like not everyone enjoys writing. And that’s ok, you really don’t have to like - or do - it all to get closer to your first DevRel job. Find a way of communicating that suits your personality and that you are most comfortable with. And I don’t mean that you can’t get a little nervous before going on stage or publishing an article - that’s completely normal. But while it’s ok to tip your toes outside of your comfort zone to grow, it’s also ok to feel more natural doing one thing rather than the other. Forcing yourself into a way of communicating that goes completely against your personality will likely show. These ways could be (but are not limited to):

Sharing your journey on Social Media

I’m an old lady already, so not sure where the cool kids hang out these days. For job-related topics, LinkedIn is a safe option - usually for a little bit more serious content; Despite all the controversy around Twitter, there might still be some value in sharing your thoughts there. But there is also so much really creative dev-related content on TikTok and Instagram - if this is your jam, it’s definitely worth exploring a little.

Attending / Speaking at Tech Confs & Meetups

If you are curious about public speaking, check out local meetups (they are usually super happy about new speakers) and start applying to speak at conferences. It’s a great experience and will connect you with many amazing community members. Especially since the pandemic, there are also a lot of virtual conferences if travelling is not an option for you. If you are curious about this topic, check out the Speaking at Technical Conferences Series.

Document your Learnings - Get into (technical) Writing

Public speaking is not for everyone, and neither is social media. Another realm of communication could be writing - be it here on, on your personal blog, in for of guest articles or your own newsletter - the choice is yours. Documenting your learnings is a great way of structuring your thoughts and deepening your understanding of technical topics, it also helps others along the way.

Ambassador programmes

If you focus on a specific tool or technology, it’s worth checking whether they have an ambassador program you could participate in. This will likely connect you to a crew of like-minded folks, may get you (beta) access to opportunities to provide feedback and might even come with additional benefits depending on the programme. Usually, the idea is to gather power users and content creators to support them in sharing their knowledge. This should be mutually beneficial, both for the company or organization in question and you as an ambassador.

Get involved with (your) Community

Developer Relations is a lot about communication & community. Being involved in Open Source or other Developer (Learning) Communities can help you develop the necessary collaboration skills, find out what people are curious about or struggle with and get some experience trying to help them. Browse around open issue in projects you use a lot or join your favorite technologies discord server.

There are many different areas to explore if you are curious about getting into Developer Relations. Many of us got our job by chance, maybe coming from a different kind of (tech) background; many have previously worked in (web) development and at some point started talking / writing or streaming about it. There is no one right way. There are just many opportunities.

Are you working in Developer Relations? How did you get there? Let me know ⬇️

Top comments (1)

fernandezbaptiste profile image

Really interesting article! I have gotten recenty into DevRel and I love the idea of sharing your journey online. You just got a new follower :)