What is a Developer Advocate and Why I became One
Hi, I'm Dawn and you'll likely be seeing a lot of me around the LaunchDarkly blog. I recently joined the company as a Developer Advocate. When I started telling friends and family about my new role the first question I heard was: “What is a Developer Advocate?” This blog is my attempt to explain what this role is and what it means to me.
What is a Developer Advocate?
According to Dictionary.com, an advocate is a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person or cause. As a Developer Advocate, my job is to speak and write on behalf of developers. I present the wants and needs of the developer to the company, and I represent the company to the developer community.
Being a Developer Advocate doesn't mean just working with cool technology (although that is definitely a perk), and building things. My mission is to help developers be better at their jobs. That may come in the form of:
- Writing a how-to guide or tutorial
- Working with partners on integrations
- Creating a video walk-through of a new feature
- Speaking at conferences
- Sharing insights and information via blogs
Sometimes these may be about technology, but sometimes the topics will be about people skills or soft skills. It's easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest technology, but often times we need to take time to work on how to be better communicators, to listen and understand other viewpoints, to have empathy. I like exploring the intersection between technology and psychology or other disciplines.
Why I became a Developer Advocate?
I enjoy writing. I started my first blog 12 years ago.
I'm a teacher. My first job after college was as a special education teacher. Every role I've had since then has included teaching in some way.
I want to help people be more successful. I want to help people be better at their jobs. I want to help people be better humans.
I like giving back to the community.
I'm not afraid of public speaking. I get nervous every time I talk, but I still get up on stage and do it.
Taking a role where I can spend my days doing all the things I enjoy and that makes me feel fulfilled was an easy decision.
Being an advocate is natural for me. When I was 12, I wrote a letter to the editor about people without disabled parking permits parking illegally and proposed ways to curb this. In my job as a special education teacher, I had to advocate for my students. More recently, I became a chapter organizer for Write/Speak/Code in Seattle to promote the visibility and leadership of technologists with marginalized genders. Now I will be advocating for developers as part of my day job.
Knowing I wanted to be a Developer Advocate was only part of the equation. I also needed to work for a company with core values that align with my personal values and goals.
What matters to me:
- Inclusion and diversity. I want to feel like I belong and I want to make sure others feel the same way. I believe diverse teams are more successful.
- I'm always learning. I read 3 to 5 books every month. Every night at dinner I ask my son what he learned that day, and he asks me the same.
- Work/life balance. I believe in unplugging and decompressing on a regular basis. At least once a year (ideally twice) I disconnect from electronics. I don't check email, I don't go on social media. I spend time outdoors, I spend time with my family, I read.
- Working on technology I am passionate about. In order to promote and speak about technology it has to be something that excites me, that solves a problem I can relate to.
LaunchDarkly ticked all the boxes, plus more. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter or say "Hi" if you see me at a conference.