How I joined the Google Developers Experts program

Angélica Oliveira
Jan 7 · 7 min read

Since I became an Android Google Developer Expert in September 2020, a lot of people are reaching me asking how I achieved this. So, in this article, I will try to explain some steps that made this possible.

If you don’t know what is the Google Developer Expert Program, here is an explanation from the official Experts Program web page:

The Google Developers Experts program is a global network of highly experienced technology experts, influencers and thought leaders who actively support developers, companies and tech communities by speaking at events, publishing content.

Image with the title Experts and the name android with some drawi referencing it
Image with the title Experts and the name android with some drawi referencing it

Experience and Persistence

First of all, it is necessary to have some consistent knowledge in a tech field before you apply to be a GDE.

I started working as an Android Developer in 2012, I was still in college, and I started as an intern developing Android apps. So, when I applied to the Experts program, I had more than 8 years of experience in the field.

If you don’t have so many years of experience, it doesn’t mean that you can’t apply. But it is necessary to have

Then, was something present throughout my entire career. Many times I thought being an Android Developer wasn’t for me, or that this career would be something temporary, and someday I would certainly move to another profession. I had this kind of feeling until a short time ago.

Maybe you have such feelings too. If so — try to find a supportive network, with people that could help and advise you. You can find them at your work, within your student group, or in a broader developer community.

Maybe you know somebody that sometimes feels this way. Help this person. Be the support that they need. First, listen to them, see if they are open to talk, then try to show the career options that this person could follow to succeed.

Always challenge yourself

I worked mostly in startup and consultant companies environments, building Android projects from the ground and supporting existing applications, from fixing small bugs to building large scale strategies. In my career, I always try to follow this phrase that I heard from a friend at the beginning of my journey:

So, try to challenge yourself always, it is not easy but in the end, you’ll see that it’s worth it.

Dealing with the imposter syndrome

A computer image with some lines of code going from the bottom to the top of the screen and an Experts logo below it
A computer image with some lines of code going from the bottom to the top of the screen and an Experts logo below it

I've been working in companies here in Brazil during my whole career, I know that I am a person with many privileges, and it helped me be where I am right now. But, I still had to face some issues in my career journey.

For instance, many times I was the only person different from the "pattern" on a team, or in college (where the majority of people were men). Many times I tried to talk and nobody listened to me. Many times I listened to phrases like "Oh, you don't seem to be an Android Developer, I swore you were (any non-technical role)". And many times when I looked at android developers in the community, I couldn’t see many people different from the “pattern”.

These things caused me to feel that I didn’t belong to a tech space, even when people believed in my potential. I was the first one to raise doubts about myself.

So, to be an Android GDE seemed to be a very distant goal for me, until people from the reached me to tell me more about this amazing opportunity.

What also changed is that I changed my career path, to work at companies where I am aligned with the culture and where my work is recognized. Working at ThoughtWorks Brasil was a great positive change in my life, professionally and personally speaking.

Well, this is a very sensitive subject to talk about, especially because imposter syndrome is something that I need to face until today. But, maybe if I write about this, more people could understand what they are feeling and then find a way to deal with it. 😊 (smiling face)

How technical communities can help

A drawing with a microphone with a phrase below it that says "I'm a speaker" and an Experts logo below it
A drawing with a microphone with a phrase below it that says "I'm a speaker" and an Experts logo below it

Being part of technical communities helped me learn a lot of things.

First, I was learning by attending events where I could watch other developers, get to know certain technologies, and inspire myself with different thoughts.

Also, I could other developers, different from the ones that I met at work, with different kinds of experience. I am really thankful for meeting some of them who helped me review my articles, gave feedback on my talks, and even helped me prepare my application to the GDE program (special thanks to Walmyr Carvalho!).

After a while of being a watcher in technical communities, I started myself. In the beginning, it was pretty scary (and it still is a little bit) but with time, I could see that by sharing the knowledge I was helping other people to learn something new, and at the same time that I was learning more myself (did you know about Learning by Teaching method?).

It was also in these communities that I met Android Developers that are at the beginning of their journey. I’m now mentoring some of those developers, especially girls. This way, I try to be the support that I needed at the start of my career.

The path that made me be an Android GDE

In a short, here is the path that made me an Android GDE:

Infographic with the steps that helped me to become an Android GDE, all the text in infographic is described in the article
Infographic with the steps that helped me to become an Android GDE, all the text in infographic is described in the article

Step 1: Being part of technical communities

By being part of technical communities, I could meet new people, learn from them, and understand more about tech.

Step 2: Sharing knowledge

Sharing knowledge with people in communities helped others learn new things. At the same time, it helped me understand the subjects that I talked about better.

And here is something very important:

You don’t need to know everything about a subject to talk about it, you just need to have enough knowledge to share.

And remember, the tech community is huge, there are people starting their journey, people that are experts in some fields but don't know about the others. It is impossible to be an expert in all fields. I know that this is a cliché, but for me, it’s so true: The more I study, the more I feel that there is much more that I don’t know yet.

Step 3: Mentor other developers

To be helpful and to be a person who supports people at the beginning of their careers, made me feel like giving things to other people that I would like to have received, at the beginning of my career.

Step 4: Applying to be a GDE

People that I met in the community helped me to apply to be a GDE. It’s very important to remember, besides having consistent knowledge and sharing about technologies, it’s necessary to be referred by someone that is already in the program. So, with them in your local community!

The process of applying to be a GDE is simple. First, you have to fill up a form with some information, like the list of community contributions that you’ve made. Then, the process is followed by some interviews, if everything is okay, you pass through it, and by the end, you become a GDE.

If applying to be a GDE still is a faraway dream for you, try to analyze the steps above. Make a plan, with the goal of applying to the GDE program at a certain future date, maybe with the help of a friend or a mentor. This target will help you push yourself more, to accomplish what you want.

Final thoughts and some bits of advice

If you are a woman technologist, keep doing your job. Try to find a supportive network to help you achieve your goals, listen to you when you need it, and give the advice that you need at the moment that you need.

I hope in the future we will have a tech community more diverse in all aspects, with justice and recognition for all people. For this to happen, don’t give up! Even if we need to face difficulties, it is possible to succeed, so keep on trying on what you believe, always! 💜 (purple heart)

I really hope I could help someone with this article, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach me anytime! 😉 (blinking face)

And if you want to be a GDE, discuss your goal to a GDE close to your local community or the Program Manager from Google responsible for your region.

And, Good luck! 🍀 (four-leaf clover)

Google Developers Experts

Experts on various Google products talking tech.

Angélica Oliveira

Written by

Android Lead Developer @ThoughtWorksBR | Google Developer Expert for Android. Learning and sharing knowledge. Linkedin: angelica-oliv, Twitter: @AngOliveiraa

Google Developers Experts

Experts on various Google products talking tech.

Angélica Oliveira

Written by

Android Lead Developer @ThoughtWorksBR | Google Developer Expert for Android. Learning and sharing knowledge. Linkedin: angelica-oliv, Twitter: @AngOliveiraa

Google Developers Experts

Experts on various Google products talking tech.

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