I enjoyed reading Wassim Chegham's article "The Subtle Art of Being A Developer Advocate" and it got me thinking of my role as a Developer Advocate.
Why the title "The unconventional Developer Advocate"? Well for me, I'm not actually a developer and Wassim mentioned that "... Developer Advocates are, before anything else, developers themselves and speak the same language as other developers.". So where do I stand in the Developer Advocacy world?
Wassim states in his article ""Advocacy" is an old concept that comes from the Medieval Latin word "advocare" which means "to add a voice". The term "advocate" comes from Old French word "avocat" which means "a lawyer". So, an Advocate literarily means someone who "pleads a case or a cause", who "argues that something needs to be changed or improved"." and despite possibly being at a disadvantage of not being a developer, I feel that I can at least be an advocate for the developers in our own community.
Who do I work for?
I've been working at SlashData, (formerly known as VisionMobile), for 13 years. SlashData help top 100 technology firms understand software developer audiences and measure the ROI of their developer strategies I joined when the company was relatively small, and in a startup environment, over the years I have taken many roles from marketing to finance and HR ops, finally finding the place that fits best with me, working in the developer facing part of the company - Developer Economics.
What's my role at Developer Economics
My day to day tasks differs depending on the time of the year, you see, we run two developer surveys per year (they typically attract over 20,000+ developers) and there are a few parts of the survey process that I'm heavily involved in.
This is by far the most important part of my role. During surveys we receive thousands of comments from participants with suggestions on how we can improve, tools we should include, translation feedback, prizes we should offer and more. Along with others in our team, we review every single piece of feedback and reply to all personally. We also reach out to community members outside the survey to check how we can improve our community offerings.
We have a lovely bunch of developers who are part of our Developer Committee. They are members of our community and help us to review our prizes, and content test our surveys before they go live to the wider audience. My job is to ensure their input is relayed to the analysts and developers at SlashData who build our developer surveys.
For the past four years I've run our biweekly developer newsletter. As I mentioned above, I'm not a developer, but over the years I've come to understand the news and resources developers want to see. I've recently started to include wellbeing tips, especially with the last year taking it's toll on people's wellbeing. We recently ran a feedback poll about the content, people really responded well to it. We also polled our community and in one of our questions, we asked what they like the best, among the open-ended answers there were quite a few responses with just "Vanessa" 🤩, because I sign all the emails they receive from us and deal with day to day queries.
Not for recruitment, we have over 30,000 members in our community, and over 1k have been with the community for over 5 years, so I run interviews to get to know them on a personal level, to understand what issues they experience, their goals, what tools they use etc.
We love to include prizes in our surveys that are going to make developers lives better. I'm responsible for choosing the prizes that will be included in the survey, from laptops, phones, license, vouchers, courses and swag. Not only do I choose the prizes, I also run the prize draws during and after the surveys have closed, contact the winners, order and ship their prizes and deal with many communications to ensure those who we can't get a physical prize to, can get a cash alternative - sadly for some countries there's many hoops to jump through to ensure the devs get their prizes. Developers from 155 countries take our surveys, and I advocate for everyone to get equally valuable prizes, no matter where in the world they might be.
Our surveys are available in English plus 8 additional languages (Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Russian, Japanese, Korean). I don't personally translate the surveys, but I do work closely with our translation partner to ensure our surveys are translated into the native languages so we can reach a diverse audience of developers.
What else do I do?
There's a lot of customer service involved in the role, responding to developer queries throughout the year, we don't have a product that we sell, but I deal with prize queries following our prize draws.
I work with our Community Lead Miljana to ensure we grow our community, look for partners who we can work with, gifts we can offer to our newsletter subscribers, manage our CRM, add blog posts and other content to our website.
Who am I as a person?
I'm a mum of two, based in the UK, I'm actually quite an introvert so this is quite scary putting my head above the sand writing this! In one of my recent side quests I trained as a Health Kinesiologist (this side of me is where I love to help with developers wellbeing), next step is Reiki. At this stage of my life I'm usually found running after the kids at the park, sometimes I go cycling, love Minecrafting, I meditate when I can remember / have time. I want to learn to play the Piano.
I'm obviously not a developer but I feel I make up for it with my primary role, which is giving a voice to developers in our community, I celebrate the individuals, champion their projects and try to empower them by finding news and resources to make them a better developer (and look out for their wellbeing!).
If you're one of the Developer Economics community members, say hi 👋 in the comments, or you can connect with me on Twitter at @MeasomVanessa. If you're a professional or enthusiast in developer relations, check out DevRelx.