So you’re a developer evangelist. What is it that you do in a typical day?
Every time I get asked this question I freak out a little, impostor syndrome kicks in, and my brain goes into overdrive. I really want to give a good answer to this question - same as for any technical or product question I get. I am here to help and answer questions. I even enjoy it. So naturally, I’d answer with…
More often than not I’d blurt out something like that. It’s 100% accurate yet just about as useless.
One of my favourite things about the developer relations industry is how greatly the work we do often varies on a day to day basis. DevRel is an interdisciplinary field that often spans work across different departments within an organisation, as well as community outside of it of course. That tends to spark a little confusion here and there, and recently I’ve been getting asked what my typical day looks like… almost every day.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you about a typical day, as I don’t think that one exists. I also hate to give a lacking answer to anyone — on anything, and finally, I believe that no-one wants to hear a condescending sigh, followed by an irate “there’s no typical day” answer (see also — “It depends”).
I believe there’s a better answer, more accurate, and much more thorough hiding in there somewhere. That’s why I’ve taken the liberty to turn the question around and started answering it in two parts. In my head I read the question as something like:
“What is it that you do as an DevRel practitioner? Can you describe some of your activities so I get a better understanding of what your job is like?”
It has roughly the same meaning, yet I feel it’s much more easy to digest. I can do this now. 💪
So, to answer the new and improved question —i n the first part I tend to explain our objectives as the DevRel industry, and in the second part list a few of my activities from a longer period of time, could be last week, month, or even a quarter or a year, to best showcase what I really do.
I believe that at the core, all of our work can be boiled down to enablement. We help others do their work better and more effectively. Either developers in the community outside our company, or our colleagues. We answer questions. We break down complex problems.
While our methods, activities and scope — they can all differ (and they definitely do), this single objective of enablement still remains front and centre.It’s the most we can achieve by being outside other people’s scope of work.I’ve written about it on one of my previous articles — Developer Relations is Developer Enablement.
Once I’ve established enablement as the core objective, I can move on to less fuzzy things, like listing a few of my activities from the previous few weeks. I like to start more fine grained and concrete in the short term, and move onto more bigger initiatives in the medium term (but that might just be how brain works).
So, to give you an example, here’s something I’d say in early February 2019:
Currently I’ve been working with product marketing on our Chatkit product in order to help better explain the proposition and its value to both our commercial teams and the external developers. I’ve also helped with a customer visit, written some documentation, built some demos and prototypes with our products to share with the communities.
On the side I also help out wherever —either the community by answering questions on Twitter, Stackoverflow, GitHub or in person, or internally by connecting various departments of our own organisation with potential partners.
Every month or so I would also go to the developer communities themselves, by speaking or attending meetups or conferences that gives me a great chance to interact with people I’m trying to serve.
Every once in a while I would also be involved in large brand awareness activities, like the State of Kotlin survey and report we launched back in the summer.
Depending on circumstance I would of course change the topics I’m talking about to better explain it to the person I’m talking to, or expand on a detail. If I get talking to a fellow plane and travel nut, I’ll nerd out on that. I like my planes. ✈️
Moral of the story? When facing a question or problem that seems useless to answer, try looking for a root cause. The tangent might just happen to be where it’s at. In the meantime, enjoy your day.
P.S. the title of this article was inspired by this masterpiece by The Beatles. Have a listen below.
P.P.S. the header image is the OG Scream emoji 😱 painting by Edvard Munch. See it live if you’re ever in Oslo and like these sort of things.