The DevRel Digest July 2023: The Path to DevRel May Be Non-linear, but Are Certain Steps Required?

The DevRel Digest
Published in
3 min readJul 19, 2023

If You’re in DevRel You’re Probably a Multipotentialite

According to a recent Forbes article, a multipotentialite is someone “with many passions and creative pursuits.” In other words, someone who never quite figures out what they want to be when they grow up. Notable multipotentialite individuals include Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, and Richard Branson. The article lists non-linear career paths, the ability to easily make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, and a fearlessness to try new things as some of the traits of a multipotentialite person. Sounds a lot like developer relations, doesn’t it? I have mixed feelings about TED talks, but just in case you might find it insightful and/or helpful, here is “Why some of us don’t have one true calling” from Emilie Wapnick.

Okay, So If the Path to a DevRel Career Is Non-linear, Does It Have to Include Software Developer?

I recently came across some discourse on whether or not you absolutely have to possess some developer experience in order to work in developer relations. In order to answer this question, I think you first need to figure out who is included under the umbrella of developer relations.

On Twitter, LawrenceDCodes proposes “Developer Relations is that department, org, or team charged with ensuring developers internal and/or external are exposed to those products and services that most closely align to their pain points and needs for more efficient and effective solutions” and then specifies who that includes. One thing that all these different aspects of developer relations have in common is centering developers, and since empathy is often named as a requirement for the job, then you could conclude that yes, developer relations require experience as a developer. However, I’ve seen this contested as gatekeeping in some discussions.

Personally, I don’t know if I have an answer. After all, I was working for dog and cat magazines when I had zero pets — so who am I to say!

Developer Relations and the Hero’s Journey

Regardless and for what it’s worth, I think that one way to empathize with the developer is to think of the developer’s lifecycle from solution awareness to solution evaluation to solution implementation to solution champion in terms of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. I talk about this on my Medium.

A diagram of developer relations as the hero’s journey as illustrated with pugs.
The developer’s hero’s journey.

Can Your Hero Be Internal?

Judging from the emerging role of internal developer relations, it looks like the answer is an affirmative. According to an older article from The New Stack, “Internal developer advocates or internal developer experience teams can fast-track the inward-facing communication efforts, helping to get fast internal feedback loops while speeding up the path to making developers’ lives easier.” Admittedly, the article is from 2022, and with the current tech job market awash in wave after wave of layoffs, even if internal developer relations does have a high ROI, companies probably aren’t investing in new programs right now. While you likely won’t be seeing job openings for this kind of role anytime soon, I have a suspicion we’ll start seeing them in the future when the industry enters another “boom” phase. With that in mind, it might be helpful to start charting the journey now.



The DevRel Digest

Relentless optimist | Artist turned software developer turned developer advocate