So you want to be an Evangelist?
I’ve had a couple people ask me what my career path looks like to become an evangelist or what did I study, so I am here to give the dets of what my journey has looked like and what my job entails. This is purely from my point of view, so another company may be looking at an evangelist to do something different. Every company has a different way to evangelize their products. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t match my description! I am one of millions of ways to become an evangelist.
Let’s start with the beginning.
Back in the day of high school, I wanted to be an Archeologist (who doesn’t want to be a real life Indiana Jones?!?!). My high school physics teacher Mr. Foell bugged me everyday I walked into his physics class to join our high school’s robotics team. I eventually decided to check it out and next thing I knew, I was on the team. The other change this inspired? I now was looking at engineering programs for college/university (probably much to my parent’s relief). For this reason, mentorship and working with students is super important to me, as it majorly impacted me. I ended up at the University of Virginia and 4 years later I had a BS (Bachelors of Science) in Computer Engineering.
Something I discovered about myself while at school was that as much as I like coding and technology, I didn’t want to be sitting in front of a computer all day. I loved the camaraderie of my engineering classes. So I pursued technology consulting as a career option for myself. I thought I would get to travel, work on different projects, technologies, and industries, and get to flex my technology and social muscles. Well, let’s just say that wasn’t the case.
Two years into being a consultant, I had worked on 2 projects only because I had forced myself off of one by moving across the country. I was getting extremely bored and needed a change. I knew I didn’t want to be a consultant, but wasn’t sure what options there were for me to move horizontally. I inventoried my consulting skills: project management, agile development, unofficial scrum master-ing, front end development, (very poor) team management, client management, and some other things. I realized that this translated well to cross-functional coordination, technical expertise, and content creation. So what could I do with these skills? I was looking at Product Management and Sales Engineering. And then I remember a colleague of mine from university who had been working as a Developer Evangelist for 2-3 years because one of her projects she was working on popped up on my Twitter feed. I looked at her twitter account and saw the conferences she was attending, the videos she created, the demo apps, and thought to myself, this aligns with what I was looking for in consulting and my skills are pretty transferable. So next thing I knew, I had added Developer Evangelist to my list of search terms.
Let me tell you something. If you put in Developer Evangelist into LinkedIn Jobs or Indeed or any other career search website, you will find a whole lot of other jobs: developers, televangelists, etc. If you are searching for a developer evangelist role, my suggestion would be think of a technology platform you like, use, or find interesting and search specifically within the company. Also, some companies call it Developer Advocate. Any company with a developer platform, tool, OS, API, etc, will probably have a developer relations focused team. Developers are the buying influencers these days so companies need one to make sure someone can talk the tech.
When interviewing for the role, there are 2 main ingredients I think (my bosses may say differently). 1 is technical skill. After all, you are going to be working with a technical developer audience. And 2 is confidence. You have to own your knowledge and not be intimidated by that stump the chump person. You won’t know everything, and that is ok. Just make sure you are rock solid and confident on what you do know and know when to pass the torch. BS is your enemy in this role.
Now after working as a developer evangelist for a year, here is what my job looks like. The best part (or my favorite part) is that no day looks the same. I work with product teams to discuss upcoming features, bugs found by me or the developer community, content creation, what is going on in that world, and what kind of demos they would like. I create technical content ranging from step-by-step tutorials to blog posts and videos about demo apps I have built. I attend conferences to speak about my knowledge or to help out in the booth and giving the lightning pitch on the technologies I support. I travel to customer or partner sites and provide hands on workshops for my technologies. And I work on my personal brand, identifying opportunities for me to get more involved with STEM education programs or meet people with similar goals as me.
I love the blend of technology, social media, and interactive sessions to get to meet people and learn more about the tech world. But again, this is just my world view. Other companies have you focus on 1 product or 1 component that I mentioned about. Or you are working with a team to accomplish all that. While I have a team that supports me, for my products, I am individually responsible for everything I just mentioned (mostly). So when interviewing, asking about the team structure and responsibilities because everyone is a bit different.
If you have anymore questions about what being an evangelist looks like or how I got here, feel free to reach out! It’s fun to talk about and it’s a important role that not a lot of people know about.
P.S. I don’t feel 100% right now, so I will probably revisit this when I am no longer sick. Updates will be made to make this more articulate and cohesive 🙂