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Taking Time to Reflect – Doing Better Than You Did Yesterday, Today with Zachary Powell

Relicans host Danny Ramos talks to Lead Developer Advocate for Huawei AppGallery, Zachary Powell, about looking at failures as learning experiences and getting as much feedback as you possibly can to understand situations and improve them, wanting to go from being a developer to being a developer advocate, and encouraging people to persevere during interviews. You're not going to succeed the first time every time. It takes time. It will happen.

Should you find a burning need to share your thoughts or rants about the show, please spray them at devrel@newrelic.com. While you're going to all the trouble of shipping us some bytes, please consider taking a moment to let us know what you'd like to hear on the show in the future. Despite the all-caps flaming you will receive in response, please know that we are sincerely interested in your feedback; we aim to appease. Follow us on the Twitters: @LaunchiesShow.

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Jonan Scheffler: Hello and welcome to Launchies, proudly brought to you by New Relic's Developer Relations team, The Relicans. The Launchies podcast is about supporting new developers and telling their stories and helping you make the next step in what we certainly hope is a very long and healthy career in software. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of The Relicans podcasts on developer.newrelic.com/podcasts. We're so glad you're here. Enjoy the show.

Danny Ramos: Hello, everyone. My name is Danny Ramos. And I'll be your host today for Launchies, the podcast where we talk to people about their stories into tech. And today I have Zachary Powell.

Zachary Powell: It's good to be here.

Danny: Thank you so much. I didn't even ask you. Is it Zachary, or do you go by Zach?

Zachary: I'd say it's normally Zachary when I'm in trouble. So I'm quite happy with Zach. [laughter] But I don't mind. I don't mind.

Danny: When I'm in trouble, my mom's whole Spanish side comes out. She's like, "Daniel." It's scary.

Zachary: [laughs]

Danny: So we want to make this a nice, fun space, so I'll call you Zach.

Zachary: Sounds good to me.

Danny: So what's up, Zach? I noticed that you have been a developer for ten years. Do you even remember how you even got into tech?

Zachary: Yes, just about. Stretching back, I can just about remember. I think certainly in tech in general, my first sense of it being a space that I wanted to be in was when I finally got my first laptop, [laughter] my first own computer. And this was even before we actually had broadband internet at home. And I would actually go and sit outside and steal my neighbor's Wifi. So that was always fun.

Danny: [laughs]

Zachary: But yeah, that definitely started during high school, and then really, it's not stopped. It's just snowballed from there.

Danny: And can you tell us a little bit about what you do currently?

Zachary: Yeah. So at the moment, I'm actually now working in developer relations. I am the Lead Developer Advocate for Huawei's AppGallery Connect, which is kind of basically...so the AppGallery is their marketplace for apps on Huawei phones. And the AppGallery Connect is all the developer tools that go along with that, so all your SDKs and services and all that fun stuff.

Danny: That does sound fun. At this point of you being a lead, what in your previous roles have gained you this ability to be in the lead of the Developer Relations team?

Zachary: So as soon as I finished university studying computer science, I actually freelanced for about six years as a developer. It started off while I was at university as a way to make a bit of extra money because I was poor and in university --

Danny: [laughs] Yeah, money is always good at university.

Zachary: Exactly. And it just worked out really well. I found that there was an awful lot of work available in that area. It was right during the boom where every company wanted a mobile app even if they didn't really need a mobile app. That was just the thing that you had to have. So there was a lot of work available. And obviously, that meant that I didn't go into a traditional junior role or anything like that. I was in charge of my own work from the get-go and in charge of managing projects and that kind of thing that you don't traditionally touch on necessarily straight out of university. You tend to have a bit more of a safety net than I necessarily did.

Those six years, I learned an awful lot which meant by the time I actually settled into a more traditional developer role, I was ready to start moving into managerial or lead positions. I definitely feel that the biggest thing was my time as a freelancer that gave me that experience that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Danny: Right, kind of creating your own experience.

Zachary: Exactly. Learning kind of by fire what does and what doesn't work, how you actually can manage a team. Even if that team is only one developer, but there are always other people that you have to talk to. There are always other people involved. So there's always that managing expectations and generally making sure that everyone is on the same page and happy, really.

Danny: Oh yeah. I'm going to quote you on that that tech is learning by fire. [laughter]

Zachary: I definitely think it is. Everyone makes mistakes. And the important thing is what you do with that learning. If you keep making the same mistake over and over and over, you're never going to get anywhere. But if you can take that experience that you've learned and what you've been burned on or what have you, if you can take that experience and make sure it never happens again, then that's a good thing. And you'll learn a lot quicker that way.

Danny: Oh yeah. I think that's my biggest advice for bootcamp people or people that are new to tech who are going into the interview process. Every failure with an interview is only a learning experience. If every time I went into an interview thinking, oh, this is the one; I'm going to get this. And then I got that email, and they're like, "Sorry, we're going to go with someone else," if I would take that as this is the end and this is over, then I would never have a job right now. It just takes like, okay, what if you email them back possibly? You could be like, "Okay, well, what in the interview could I have worked on, or do you have any feedback for me?" And then boom, now you have leveled up just from that type of feedback that you would get.

Zachary: Oh yeah, definitely. You should always try and get feedback from any mistake, whether it's during the interview process or even when you're actually in a job; if something goes wrong, it's worth trying to get as much feedback as you possibly can and understanding the situation so that you can improve it.

Danny: Yeah, absolutely. Were there any type of fun, little projects that you worked on when you were stealing your neighbor's Wifi?

Zachary: [laughter] Yeah. So basically, one of the things that I got very interested in quite early on was Android development. And again, this was the very early stages. I think HTC Magic was my first smartphone, which I forget what it was called in the States. But it was basically the second phone that HTC brought out, so not the G1 but the one after that.

Danny: I'm looking up a photo of it right now. And I don't want to date you, but this is an old phone. [laughter]

Zachary: It is an old phone, oh yeah. [laughs] It makes me feel old.

Danny: I had this one with the little ball on the bottom.

Zachary: Yeah, that was a brilliant piece of user interface. Basically, when I got that phone, it sparked my interest in building Android applications and tinkering with Android in general. It was the start of the whole hacker rooting your device community and really trying to test what Android can actually do as an operating system. So it was really great getting involved with that. I think I definitely built a couple of my own Android ROMs and distributed those on XDA.

And it was just a really fun time because it felt like a bit of the Wild West. Everything was new. No one really quite understood what these smartphones were going to be able to do. And there was a lot of fun to be had there in figuring it out and putting things to the test. Pretty sure even at that time, people were overclocking their phones and that sort of ridiculous thing, which you just wouldn't even really think about or even be able to do these days because obviously everything's become much more locked down.

Danny: Yeah. I'm just initially thinking of the amount of times I played Brick Breaker at my desk in class.

Zachary: [laughs] Oh yes. I mean, that was the thing. If you had a smartphone during high school, that time you really were able to do a lot more than maybe [laughs] you were supposed to be able to do.

Danny: [laughs] And so going into university, you knew that you wanted to be a developer. Or was there anything else in mind?

Zachary: So I went into university with the mindset that I'd become a game developer. My degree was computer science with computer game design. And there was quite a big focus...I'd say about 50% of the degree was actually game-specific. And it was definitely at that time something I thought, oh yeah, this is going to be really cool. This is what I want to do.

But I think as the degree progressed and as I went on, I realized that yeah, it's a really cool industry, but it's incredibly cut-throat. It's incredibly competitive. And there just wasn't as much of a space there compared to what would be newer industries like mobile app and Android in general. It wasn't quite as appealing by the end of the degree. So I never really pursued that and definitely did move down the mobile route.

Danny: Were there any games that really sparked your interest and made you want to go into game development?

Zachary: Well, I think obviously, a lot of the Original CoD and Unreal 2004, which is really dating, was one of those games that, especially at the beginning of high school, I played a lot of that [laughter] and these early online games. It was a great time. And a lot of the games as well, there was quite a lot of a modded community around it as well and being able to tinker with things and getting your own game models into the game and that sort of thing. That's definitely where that came from. That's definitely where my enjoyment of that came from and the idea that it would be a great thing to do professionally.

Danny: Oh yeah. The amount of times my friends and I would stay up late not necessarily dealing with mods but like Halo 1 and Halo 2 glitches where you would crawl in the corner of the map and then fall through the map and just walk around. For some reason, we broke the game. But for some reason, it was just so fun to do that.

Zachary: Yeah, it was just so unpolished. And it was great to be able to do something that you really weren't supposed to do and get access to things that you really weren't supposed to have access to. [laughter]

Danny: Yeah, that is awesome. So you were originally down one path in university, and then you kind of pivoted. You're like, okay, you know, what? There's actually a big market for this. Was there anyone like a mentor or anyone in your life that was like, "You should go into mobile development."?

Zachary: I think what happened there is it was almost a race between my two interests as to which was going to win. At the same time, in my second year, I started a project called Linux on Android, which was basically a project to run GNU Linux desktop applications on your Android device. And that was a passion project of mine. I think it was...it must have been the second year. I was trying to think back now, but it must have been the second year of uni. And that really kind of took off. It was very successful on the Play Store. We did a round of Kickstarter funding which went very well and meant that for quite a lot of time, I was able to focus on that.

And I actually then ended up getting my first freelancing gig out of that. A company in Australia were interested in building a tablet that ran both Linux (I think it was actually a version of Ubuntu.) and Android side by side. I would say they were the pushing figure that ended up making the mobile side of it win because, well, there was money there to be offered. And it meant that I could leave university straight into having a client already, which meant that my bills were paid. So everything else that I was doing freelance was extra money.

Danny: Nice.

Zachary: And yeah, I think that, in a way, that kind of was the deciding factor. I think if that hadn't existed if I hadn't done that project, it's very possible that I would have gone the other way. Because definitely all the way through, even through my third year, it was kind of both interests were racing each other to decide who was going to be my career path.

Danny: And I think that's the troubling thing when you're at a young age or when you're trying to get a new career path; it's like, what do I do next? And was there anything, in particular, that really told you I'm actually enjoying this more, so I could focus on this? Or I'm more salary-oriented, so I should go this way? Was there any kind of mental notes you told yourself to just like, okay, I'm going to do this because of this?

Zachary: I do think that part of it was the money side. And it was the fact that going down the freelance route and focusing on something that had a real market; I could be a lot more relaxed with my working hours. It meant I could essentially be my own boss and not have to do that office grind, as it were. And that was very appealing. I think it was something that I really saw as a great thing.

I probably did it through rose-tinted spectacles. I probably didn't really think so much about the negatives. And the fact that yes, I could do my own hours, but actually, in reality, I was working far more hours than a normal job would be. And there was a lot more stress involved there. And there was a lot more responsibility than necessarily would have been good at the time. [laughter] But from me in that position, that was what was driving it was this fact that I could do stuff that I enjoyed when I wanted to do it, and also, it paid well.

Danny: Yeah, that's the golden ticket there. [laughs]

Zachary: Exactly. Exactly. Until you start thinking about all the negatives looking back, but you know. [laughter]

Danny: Yeah. You're like, wow, I really didn't sleep much back in the day.

Zachary: Exactly. There were definitely days where I really didn't sleep and especially working with a company that was in Australia. I remember having meetings at 3:00 a.m. and looking back at that now just thinking like, why on earth did you do that? [laughter]

Danny: Calling yourself Zachary because you're in trouble.

Zachary: Exactly. Exactly.

Danny: [laughs] Yeah, I think it's so important to recognize what you really want in life or what you really value. I know for me previously before going into tech, I was working 45 to 50-hour weeks. And it was physically draining, my job. And I was like, my back hurts. And at the time, I was only 26. So I was like, my back hurts at 26. If I keep doing this, I'm going to be the other grumpy, old men that I work with. I need to get out of here.

I think it's fun to look back at the growth or improvements. So like you looking back and being like, you know what? Now I know I don't want to stay up till 3:00 in the morning for meetings. I'm going to recognize that, and I'm going to try to do what I can to get a job where I don't have to do these things.

Zachary: Exactly. I think as well; it’s very important to remember that what you want and your goals can change. So I made that transition from freelancing into a standard developer job, and that's because my goals changed. I decided that I did want that more stability. I did want to know that I could actually work nine-to-five-ish, and I have my evenings again free to do what I actually want to do. And I get things like holiday paid, and sick leave, and all these lovely mystical things that you don't get when you're freelancing. [laughs]

And I'd say, yeah, there was definitely that shift of I guess it's the idea of as you get older, you want to settle down in a way. There definitely was a shift there. But then I did have another shift when I decided to move into DevRel. Well, I moved into developer relations kind of by accident, actually.

Danny: Really?

Zachary: Yeah. A company I previously worked with as a developer...I was working there for a couple of years. It was a comfortable job. I was quite happy. But I think it was a little too comfortable. There wasn't much of a challenge. It was getting a bit stale. So I decided I do need a new position. I need to find a new job. But in my mind, that was definitely going to be another software development job. Those were the jobs that I was applying for, interviewing for, and all that sort of stuff.

And then one of the recruiters that I was working with said, "Hey, we've actually got this position as a developer advocate with Huawei." Now, the recruiter had no idea what a developer advocate was. And it was more that it had the word developer in the title, and it was for a company that they knew did Android stuff. They recommended it based on that. And I didn't know what developer advocate was either at the time. So I went through the interview process because I thought, hey, it could be interesting.

Danny: I might as well.

Zachary: Yeah, it's worth doing. It could be a good company to have on my CV, that kind of thing. And going through the interview process, learning what the job actually entailed, I suddenly realized, hang on, this is actually something I really want to do. This sounds really cool. I didn't know I could get paid to do this. And so within that, I mean, literally within the space of a couple of days, suddenly, my whole priorities of what I wanted out of a job completely shifted. And I suddenly wanted to go from being a developer to being a developer advocate.

And I mean, again, looking at that, it was just such a wild shift. But it was good to reflect on that and think, well, actually, yeah, it happens. Sometimes you find something new that you didn't know about at all. And you realize that that's actually much more suited to what you want.

Danny: Right? What about developer advocacy really spoke to you?

Zachary: Well, I think the biggest thing is I've always been a developer that enjoys talking. [laughter] I like to communicate, whether that's going to conferences and stuff or if it was talking with customers, being active on social media, whatever it was. I do enjoy sharing information and sharing knowledge.

I guess I just never really realized that there was a whole career specifically for that. Of course, you look back at it now, and you go, well, of course, there is. All this documentation and all this stuff doesn't just appear out of nowhere; someone is doing it. [laughs] But at the time, it just never really clicked. So that's definitely what drew me in was the realization that actually, pretty much every part of being a developer advocate I enjoy.

Danny: In the interview, just like, "So I can talk and get paid. Okay, I like this."

Zachary: Yeah. You're going to pay me to go to conferences? Yes, please. [laughter]

Danny: Now, since you were freelance for a while and your own boss technically for some time, was it nerve-wracking to go into the interview process, or did you feel pretty confident about that?

Zachary: Oh no. It was incredibly nerve-racking. I think I was a bit overconfident at the start. I think I felt, oh well, I've spoken to hundreds of clients over the time. I've done hundreds of technical projects. I can interview. It will be fine. But it's a completely different process and a completely different situation, really. And you're talking with a customer for a technical project. They don't necessarily or almost certainly don't have a technical background. They're not interested in the technical side. They're interested in the well, how much is it going to cost? And how long is it going to take?

Danny: Yeah, especially the first one. [laughs] They're like, "How much is this?"

Zachary: So that's a completely different conversation than actually when you're sitting down with someone that is technical and wants to probe you for what you know, what you don't know, and learn more about you. And that kind of setting is certainly...I think it's a much more of an intimate process. And I would definitely say the first couple of interviews I had I bombed just impressively.

Danny: It's almost a beautiful thing how bad an interview can go. [laughs] You're like, I knew this. What happened? Where did my brain go?

Zachary: Exactly. I've been writing Java code for the last six years. And suddenly, I can't tell you what a class is. What's going on? [laughter] And because I think I had been freelance, I didn't have that traditional career path. So they were a lot more reliant on testing me in the moment about what I knew because it was more difficult to quantify what I knew. And so yeah, those first few interviews really did badly.

But I quickly learned what I do need to be able to keep in the front of my mind when I'm going into these interviews, the kind of questions that I am going to be asked, and I need to have the answers at hand. And I think it was maybe the fourth interview that I did was the job that I then took. So it wasn't a bad process. It was maybe a bit painful at the time, and there were a lot of nerves and just generally feeling quite ashamed of how badly I performed. [laughter] It's like, I'm so sorry for wasting your time kind of thing.

Danny: We shouldn't feel those feelings because this is just the process. But for some reason, there's just this feeling of awkwardness. You're like, I swear I applied to this job thinking I can get it. I wasn't trying to waste anyone's time here.

Zachary: Exactly. And to have got to the interview, there must have been something that they liked with regards to the CV or something. But still, you just end up feeling like, oh, should I be here? [laughter]

Danny: What advice would you give to anyone about to enter the interview process?

Zachary: I'd say it definitely takes perseverance. And I would say don't get disheartened when you don't get a position because it's going to happen. You're not going to succeed the first time every time. I'd say take your time between each interview as well. And just make sure that you are, like we already said, looking back at what went wrong and how you can improve on that for the next time. Spend some time to reflect. Don't just go in guns blazing interview after interview after interview because then yeah, you are going to probably fail the more. But if you just spend a bit of time and think about it, each time you should improve.

Danny: Yeah, I really like the piece that you said: take time to reflect. I think that was such an important thing for me to really sit down after the interview and say, what went well? What didn't go well? What can I improve on? And really, just take a moment of recognizing, okay, I did it. And I have another one scheduled in a couple of days or next week or whatever. How can I nail the next one? Or how can I just do better than what I did today?

Zachary: Yeah. And I think it's also worth doing that reflection before you've even received feedback. So reflecting immediately after the interview and try to draw your own conclusions, and then seeing how those reflected in the feedback that you get. Because I think that helps you develop your own internal review process. You can see where you are spot on in terms of knowing what did and didn't go well. And sometimes there are things that you think went really well, and they didn't, or you think went really badly and actually, they went well. So I think that's a good process to keep in mind.

Danny: Oh yeah. Everyone probably knows this already, but we tend to be our worst critic. And so, I would think an interview went terrible. I was like, wow, I just bombed that. And then they'd be like, "Okay, we're moving you on to the next round." I'm like, what? What did you like that I didn't? [laughs]

Zachary: Yeah, definitely. Certainly, I'd say by that fourth interview, I was still thinking, oh, that was terrible, but it obviously wasn't.

Danny: [laughs]

Zachary: It had actually gotten better, and I should have spent more time to think about that. Because what I thought was going on versus what was actually going on wasn't necessarily in line.

Danny: Right. Now I want to bounce back to being a developer advocate or being in developer relations. How long have you been in DevRel? I've heard a lot of people say dev avocados. [laughter] How long have you been in that space?

Zachary: Actually, not a huge amount of time. But I started in January of this year.

Danny: Oh, awesome. Literally a month after me.

Zachary: Oh, there you go. So yeah, so it was quite a new transition. And it was definitely, I think, brought on from the whole pandemic where that was what may have helped my previous job become quite stale. The working from home and the lack of interaction definitely fueled me wanting to look for something new.

Danny: Right. But I guess since you've been a developer for ten years at this point, I'm curious to see what you saw as developer advocacy and how that has changed to the present time, especially a time where so many people were on their phones around home or stuck inside. And has that process in your eyes changed from just being very conference-focused to maybe more social media-focused?

Zachary: Definitely. I definitely think so. I think traditionally, DevRel has very much been; here’s some documentation, here's some sample code. We'll see you at the next conference. I think that was, at least from an outsider's point of view at that time; that was what I picked up. Whereas what I have noticed even just in this year is that teams are becoming more focused on having a good, strong social media presence, whether that is on social media platforms or on YouTube and producing more video content or more blog content or that sort of stuff.

But they're definitely shifting away from conference is the be-all and end-all. That's not the case anymore. I think the conferences are nice to have when they can happen. But that can't be the focus anymore because most people aren't going to conferences. And obviously, from being online, you can access a much wider audience. You can interact with people all over the world. And you can spread your awareness in a much more wide net.

Danny: And does your team focus on anything more particular?

Zachary: So I think at the moment, it's definitely a lot of social media content. I've actually been personally heading quite a lot of TikTok content at the moment and pushing shorter videos as well. I actually started doing some YouTube shorts as well. But those are obviously just essentially the same thing, just different platforms. But yes, yes, a lot of social media and a lot of getting out the shorter snippets of information.

I think we as a society, as a world, are moving into a place where we like to consume little snippets of knowledge. We don't really want to sit down and watch a 45-minute YouTube video on how to do XYZ. We want a couple of 30-second videos that just give you the punch line and get you interested. And then you're free to do your own research and kind of learning.

Danny: No, absolutely. As a person who literally grew up in front of the TV as my third parent, I'm amazed at how my attention span or interest has shifted over to TikTok. I don't even feel that I watch TV that much anymore. I'll just go on TikTok for 20 minutes and be like, all right, there's my episode of something and go about my business. [laughs]

Zachary: Yeah, I completely agree. I think there are very few actual shows that I still watch. And yeah, it's much more interesting, to be honest. I just find the breadth of the kind of entertainment content that you can get on something like TikTok is much more interesting than traditional media.

Danny: Right. And I see that you are on Twitch as well. Are you still frequenting Twitch?

Zachary: Yes. So we are trying to do more live streams as well. That's not been a big focus the last couple of months just because of how the world works. And we've got lots of things going on. But definitely, live streams is another thing that I personally really do enjoy. We also do go live on TikTok sometimes as well. Because I think it opens that space for people to be able to directly communicate with you and hang out and explore something together.

Certainly, with our Twitch, we tend to maybe look at a service that AppGallery Connect have newly offered or something. So, for example, at the beginning of the summer, all their serverless functionality came out of beta. So we spent some time looking at the different services, what you can do with them, and just hanging out in a more relaxed informal place on Twitch, whereas maybe a YouTube video is a much more formal structured thing.

Danny: And I think that is a big reason why social media, at least in the tech community, has really grown or just really just blown up in the last year or so was this urge for wanting to hang out. People were stuck inside, stuck in their home office. And now, their office may have become their home. So I've noticed when I go on Twitch or just go on social media, it's like a hangout where I'll be working on a project, and people will come into the chat just to say what's up and hang out and just have a genuine curiosity of what you're working on. And it's almost like a mimic of being in the office.

Zachary: Oh yeah, definitely. Certainly, with a lot of the developers that stream on Twitch, that very much is the vibe that's happening. And I think people are really loving that. They're just working on a project that they'd be working on anyway. It's something that just needs to happen. So why not share with the community and let people maybe even contribute or at least just hang out and chat and ask questions? I think it poses a really great way to interact with communities and get to know people better really.

Danny: Yeah, absolutely. I'm curious, are there any fun side projects that you're working on besides work? I know work is crazy right now for everybody. [laughs]

Zachary: Yeah. I mean, work is crazy. I have actually recently, funnily enough, started revisiting the Linux on Android project. It was dormant for many years, but it's actually something that I want to pick back up, kind of dabbled in setting up a new website for it and refreshing some of the fringe stuff around it. It's something that I want to get back into. And again, it would actually probably be something that I would like to stream and do that side of stuff.

But unfortunately, it is a time constraint and [laughs] finding the time at the end of the day to do these sorts of things as it does now seem like, at least here in Europe, conferences and stuff are starting to start up again. I'm looking behind my monitors, and I've got a big calendar with dates marked on it for different conferences. And it's looking very busy for the next couple of months.

Danny: Yeah. I'm like, don't even get me started. [laughter]

Zachary: On the one hand, it is exciting. And on the other hand, I'm dreading it. [laughs]

Danny: My mom was like, "What are we going to do for Thanksgiving?" I was like, "I think I have two days I can get somewhere. Let's try to figure it out." [laughs]

Zachary: So, unfortunately, that stuff might end up moving to maybe even next year. But I am enjoying playing around with new web technologies. I kind of never really was a web developer. So the last time I used things like JavaScript was definitely in jQuery's heyday. So it's nice to play around with frameworks and stuff which make actually writing new things enjoyable as opposed to a headache. I try and play around with some stuff where I can.

Danny: What would you recommend to someone that is, let's say, post-University, post-bootcamp, and they just need to keep their tech up to par? Do they just need to have a project to be working on? Is there any advice that you would give to what they would work on or what they should be focused on?

Zachary: I think the thing is with that constant learning, which we all have to do, I think it's important to find projects that you are going to be passionate about. It's important to find subject matters that interest you because if you can do that, it becomes a lot less work and much more play when you're learning new things.

So if you can think about, say, for example, with my Linux and Android stuff, that's something I really enjoy. And that spawns out other things. So it's like, well, I need to write a website for that. Okay, well, what frameworks am I going to use? Am I going to do a static site? Am I going to use something that's got a database and is more dynamic? Okay, what am I going to do for documentation? Am I going to use GitHub?

And if you have a subject matter, it spawns out all these little sub-projects, which means you can learn and touch on different areas of the tech world which you wouldn't necessarily normally be focused on. I write mobile apps. Why do I need to care about a website? Well, because actually, my mobile app needs a website. So that sort of thing. I think if you can find a topic that you're interested in, that's going to make life much easier.

Danny: Yeah. Because what you said, it becomes more play. It doesn't become some stressful thing that you're like; I got to get this done. I got to get this finished. It becomes more like, oh, this is more intriguing. What happens if I go this way or go that way? Because you're also just learning about the topic that you're interested also.

Zachary: Precisely. You're going to learn new things as you go. You're going to learn things when you break things, or you realize that maybe the framework that you've picked just isn't up to par for the thing that you need. So you're going to re-evaluate. And it's this constant evolving thing that just keeps going. And that really gives you lots of different ways to learn and lots of different areas to touch on.

Danny: Yeah. For the last part of this podcast, I wanted to ask, what do you think is the future of DevRel now that you're going to be in it for almost a year? Do you suspect that we're just going to go back to conferences and documentation, or are you going to see conferences dwindling?

I went to two conferences these last couple of weeks. And it was pretty consistent that everyone was saying that this is a smaller crowd than before. But I imagine that that is just because it's going to take some time for everyone to feel comfortable to be back in a closed space like that.

Zachary: Yeah. I think what's going to happen is hybrid events are going to become the big thing and the norm. I think in-person events will still continue to happen because there is that element of social interaction of networking that just can't be done online. It's much easier to chat to a group of people when you're physically in the group of people.

But from the hybrid point of view, having these conferences, these events online, basically makes them far more accessible to the world. For one, most of these conferences are often quite expensive. And even if the conference itself is free, you've got travel, and you've got hotels. So they're immediately not accessible to a lot of people. Whereas if there's an online event, often those are either free or very cheap, and more people can come in and experience things that they wouldn't otherwise be able to experience.

So I think we will see more in-person events happening again, but I think it will be very rare to see in-person-only events. Events will be either live-streamed or at least recorded, and the videos provided online. I know that was already happening before, but I think that is going to be the normal. I think it would be very weird for that not to happen.

Danny: I agree. I imagine it'll be this kind of, like you said, hybrid situation going on. And I think that's a good thing, especially for accessibility, and especially it's going to take some time for this whole COVID thing to go away.

Zachary: Oh definitely.

Danny: So I think by keeping people safe, I think that's the best option.

Zachary: Yes, definitely.

Danny: Well, Zach, I really appreciate your time today. And I really appreciate you sharing your story with us, with me. And what's the best place people can reach out to you?

Zachary: Basically, my handle is devwithzachary. And that's everywhere, really, so Twitter, Twitch, TikTok. You'll be able to find me on LinkedIn, on dev.to, lots of the blogging platforms, basically anywhere. So yeah, the handle devwithzachary, and you should be able to find me.

Danny: Great. Well, thank you so much for being a guest today.

Zachary: Yes, it was a pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.

Danny: Take it easy, Zach.

Zachary: You too.

Jonan: Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of the rest of The Relicans podcasts on therelicans.com. In fact, most anything The Relicans get up to online will be on that site. We'll see you next week. Take care.

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