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Cover image for The Developer Relations Path - From College Student to Developer Advocate - Ask Me Anything!

The Developer Relations Path - From College Student to Developer Advocate - Ask Me Anything!

tessamero profile image Tessa Mero ・2 min read

Developer Relations is a fast-growing field with more tech companies adopting this concept as they are coming to a realization of how important having Developer Relations is for the success of their product. What better time than now to start?

Often I am asked how I got into my field and what steps they need to take to get there. As this is quite a broad area to define, it would make more sense to ask directly what your questions are. Tell me about your situation and where you are at with college/career and any involvement you have in the developer community.

I started back in 2011 taking courses on Web Application Development with my first required course being Visual Basic which was in the Comp Science area. Being one of the 2 only women in my class, and seeing half the class drop out by the end of the quarter was quite challenging but yet motivating to work harder to keep up with the others who are making it. A year later into college classes, I made it a goal to stay after every class, finish my code projects before most, and spend time helping others debug their projects which made it so not only did they learn a lot, I was able to absorb and learn from helping them debug.

Following a series of thousands of situations of contributing to help make other developers more successful, which eventually led to a position as a Developer, then instructor teaching code, contributing to open source projects and developer communities, and now developer advocacy, I'd love to mentor/guide you through this blog post. I was inspired by someone who recommended I should look into Developer advocacy as a job Mike Stowe and then having a mentor guide me on what steps to take to get there Anthony Ferrera when he was at Google. Later down the road, Jessica Rose helped me through a lot of questions/situations and mentored me a lot. These people are amazing and simple things they've said to me have changed my life.

Who knows, maybe a simple reply from me could change your life?

Ask Me Anything.

Discussion (15)

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v6 profile image
🦄N B🛡

Bidness Time

How do you set up a process to model adoption and realized business value therein, mathematically, statistically, and otherwise?

And how do you relate that model to your estimates of the total addressable market?

Fun Time

Most measurably effective ways to make the whole thing silly?

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tessamero profile image
Tessa Mero Ask Me Anything

Hi N.B. The goal of this post is to help others get into the DevRel field. Is this something you are interested in? What is your current role? Or are you already in DevRel to be asking this question? I'd like to understand further. Thanks!

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v6 profile image
🦄N B🛡

I'm already in something very similar, call it "Secrets Management Adoption."

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malgamves profile image
Daniel Madalitso Phiri • Edited

Hey! Good to see someone with a similar journey. I'm curious to know how your perspective of developer relations has changed over the years.

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tessamero profile image
Tessa Mero Ask Me Anything

Hi Daniel, and thank you. Glad you understand me quite well.

My perspective over DevRel in the last few years? You jumped straight to the most difficult one! That's great though as I'm sure my perspective could potentially help others, or vice versa if they want to add to it.

  1. Developer Relations has been mostly a known/popular position at tech companies in the United States, over 52%** to be exact, as of 2019. Over the years, especially in the next few years, the concept of DevRel will be expanding throughout different countries exponentially.

  2. Developer Relations is such a broad skillset that I'd have high doubts if you can find one person with every single expertise that is required for such a position. In the last year, according to many Twitter debates

  3. If we want to look closer to the near future for DevRel and how it will evolve, remote is going to become key and hiring a DevRel community manager and someone to manage DevRel logistics for online communities and events will essentially be the key to their success, or at least one of many.

  4. With more DevRel teams comes more need for DevRel managers/directors. As the field is still quite new with it booming just over 5 years ago, we're at the stage where we have experienced people who are helping build strategy and growth for these teams. With more leaders comes more interest in KPIs and measuring success! With more of everything, it leads to more open thoughts to defining even more about this role.

  5. Once DevRel is more an understood "department", it will be necessary for it to become a standalone group, rather than sitting within a department (Product, Engineering, Marketing...etc). Other teams will "know" that cross collaboration and communication with DevRel is a must. This is something that is slowly happening but we are getting closer to this point!

This is my opinion and jotted down some thoughts while cooking dinner. :-) I'm sure I can come up with a ton more!

** Source: Hoopy's State of the Developer Relations 2019 Report

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malgamves profile image
Daniel Madalitso Phiri

Hey Tessa, thanks for the answer! I definetly agree, I like that the profession is changing and we're starting to add more structure to processes and we're getting better at metrics. I've found my focus has shifted a lot from the speaking and the like to working more in the background, doing content and working on strategy. I like to see it as a me evolving in the space because the career path isn't always the straightest.

I also love that more companies abroad are taking it up! So many nice new roles scattered around the world. I can only imagine the good it would do to the developer communities there. I'm very excited to see where the industry goes.

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tessamero profile image
Tessa Mero Ask Me Anything

You are very welcome. I have noticed that in DevRel, focuses can easily shift based on where your product is heading, what your longterm/shortterm strategy looks like as that could potentially shift over time. This field and the individual will always be shifting. I know my position has in all companies I've done DevRel for!

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malgamves profile image
Daniel Madalitso Phiri

Totally! The constant movement for me makes it exciting! On the other hand there's always the fear of having knowledge on so much yet not mastering anything. Slowly the fear is fading because it become apparent to me that it's probably just me limiting myself.

I was having a conversation with a few friends about DevRel and I made this analogy which at first was a little weird but started to make sense the more I thought about it. To me it seems like DevRel touches on a lot of the growth aspects of a product at least because of that it's different for every product, team, company and there a beauty in that haha. I'm writing a blog post about it this week if you'd like to read it before it's out.

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tessamero profile image
Tessa Mero Ask Me Anything

Hi Daniel, I'd love to read your blog post. You can DM me on Twitter (it's open) @tessamero

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Olaoluwa Mustapha

Hey! I am thinking of starting a developer community for college students who are either starting to learn how to program or are job-ready but are not being seen by the right people or are simply too introverted to put themselves out there. However, I have no idea where to start. Any idea what I can do?

I am also a developer/college student and I have been going through some struggle juggling the two (I am currently doing my generals, nothing code specific yet), but I have been programming for a while now so it's a bit easier for me. However, I want to try and help those who are struggling with starting or just not being seen

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Samudra Weerasinghe

Hi Tessa,

I have a degree in software engineering but haven't practiced it at work. I also have 5 years of marketing experience (mainly content marketing) at a tech company. Do you think that experience is enough to go into developer relations? I'm not super technical and it's been a year since I finished my degree, in which I haven't done much development work. Is being super technical necessary? Can I lean towards my marketing experience more in this role?

Thanks,
Sam

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zt4ff profile image
Kayode Oluwasegun

Being an accounting student without CS background... What will be my faith

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tessamero profile image
Tessa Mero Ask Me Anything

Hi Kayode, if you are only an accounting student with no CS background, you'll at least need experience writing code and working with developers in most cases. What is your experience in this area?

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zt4ff profile image
Kayode Oluwasegun

Started off with learning Java.
I'm currently learning HTML and CSS

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tessamero profile image
Tessa Mero Ask Me Anything

Hi Kayode, I always believe that anything is possible. Definitely put the time into learning HTML/CSS, and programming. Share your knowledge of what you've learned through content creation, whether it's writing, videos, podcasts, anything really that's out on the internet. Build a following or be part of communities. Start building your presence now because in 5 years from now your career will jump ahead significantly and you will be very grateful you started early.

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