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This article is part of our "DevRel behind the scenes" series and was brought to you together with Sohail Pathan, Developer Advocate at ApyHub and Aastha Patel, Analyst at KPMG India. Make sure to follow Sohail and Aastha on Twitter and LinkedIn for more content!
With the demand for Developer Advocates on the rise, it's a fantastic time to break into this exciting industry which is Developer Relations. But let's be real here, if it was as simple as following a step-by-step guide, everyone would be doing it. The truth is, getting into DevRel is no easy feat, but for those who eat, sleep, and breathe technology, it's a role that can't be beaten.
Now, don't take our word for it. We surveyed a bunch of folks in the industry, and guess what? Each one had a different story to tell. That's because the world of Developer Relations is still new, and with so many overlapping roles, sometimes defining what it can be tricky.
But we've got you covered! In this article, we'll answer all your burning questions about DevRel and give you a roadmap to get started. So let's dive in!
What exactly is Developer Relations?
When it comes to DevRel job, the focus is on meeting the needs of developers, promoting software tools and products, and establishing a feedback loop between the developer community members and product maintainers.
DevRel Team can consist of various roles, including Community Manager, Tech Writer, Developer Evangelist, Developer Advocate, and sometimes even Growth Hacker and Developer Marketers.
Ultimately, the goal of Developer Relations is to cultivate positive relationships with developers, who are the primary customers of developer-facing companies like Google, Appwrite, AWS, and Microsoft.
As we chatted with various Developer Advocates, Community Managers, and Technical Writers, we noticed some common themes. It became clear that the DevRel role is not a one-size-fits-all skillset. Rather, it's a role that requires individuals to wear many hats and perform various tasks to ensure success.
Do I need to be a developer to work in DevRel?
One of the most commonly asked questions about the Developer Relations career path is whether you need to be a developer to succeed in the field, is the developer experience needed? Unfortunately, the answer isn't as straightforward as a simple "yes" or "no." It ultimately depends on a few different factors:
- The specific DevRel career you're interested in,
- The expectations of the company you're joining,
- The culture of the technical niche your product operates in,
- The other skills you bring to the table.
Since DevRel is such a unique and ever-changing role that is tailored to the needs of each individual company, the expectations for candidates can vary greatly. There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
However, by taking the time to research your desired role, company, and niche, and by highlighting your unique skills and strengths, you can give yourself the best chance of succeeding in a DevRel position.
What is the foundation of Developer Relations?
In the world of Developer Relations, success is all about building and maintaining positive relationships with developers and supporting them in building software with your product. But what exactly does that entail? To help answer that question, let's take a look at the four complementary areas of DevRel:
Understanding who the target developers for a product are and ensuring that they have access to all the information and tools they need to make an informed decision about your product.
Providing developers with everything they need to be successful with your product, from technical documentation to guides and resources.
Serving as a champion for developers and acting as a liaison between them and your organization to ensure their needs are heard and addressed.
Establishing and nurturing a community of developers who share a common goal in relation to your product or organization.
Note that these four areas are not an exhaustive list of everything that goes into Developer Relations, but they are an excellent starting point for those looking to break into the field. For a more comprehensive guide, we highly recommend checking out the book "Developer Relations: How to Build and Grow a Successful Developer Program" by Caroline Lewko.
What are the responsibilities of Developer Relations Team?
In today's fast-paced tech industry, the Developer Relations role (DevRel) has become increasingly important.
But what, exactly, are the responsibilities of a DevRel team? Here are some common expectations:
- Gain industry recognition and credibility by speaking at third-party conferences, shows, and press events.
- Develop and deliver presentations, sample solutions, and discussions that help drive awareness and adoption of tech services.
- Collaborate with internal teams to define regional strategy and goals, and support developer community, user groups and developer program initiatives.
- Create and maintain relevant content (such as demos, videos, blog posts, and screencasts) that covers tech services, emerging technologies, and industry developments.
- Maintain a strong and credible presence on social media channels relevant to technical audiences.
- Work with counterparts worldwide to share best practices and build a best-in-industry developer relations organization.
- Partner with Business Development, Product, and Engineering teams to support the expansion of partner and company business, and bring mutually beneficial products/features to the market.
- Improve critical developer journeys in developer-facing tech products.
While this is not an exhaustive list of all the responsibilities of a DevRel Manager, it provides a solid overview of what this role typically entails. With a focus on relationship-building, community engagement, and content creation, DevRel teams play a vital role in driving the success of tech companies.
What are the key roles in Developer Relations?
If you're interested in pursuing a career in Developer Relations, you may be wondering what types of roles you can expect to find. Here are seven broad roles that are commonly found within DevRel teams:
- Developer Advocate/ Developer Evangelist: Typically an all-rounder who serves as a public-facing liaison between developers and the company, often covering a variety of responsibilities.
- Developer Marketer: Manages the developer journey, messaging, communication, segmentation, research, campaigns, and other marketing activities with a focus on developer audiences.
- Developer Educator/Technical Writer: Produces educational and technical marketing content to help developers understand and use the company's products.
- Community Manager: Responsible for maintaining a thriving developer communities around a product or project and developer community management.
- Developer Experience Engineer: Focuses on creating sample apps, SDKs, and other resources that help developers use the product effectively.
- Director of Developer Relations: Sets the strategic direction for the team, serves as the face of the team within the company, and handles day-to-day management.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of every role you might find within a DevRel team, but it provides a good overview of some of the key positions you might encounter.
What skills are needed to get into Developer Relations?
The specific skills required can vary depending on the company and the DevRel role you're interested in, but there are a few key skills that are consistently valuable. Here are some examples:
- Community Building: DevRel professionals need to be able to build and nurture relationships with a diverse range of developers. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are needed.
- Public Speaking: Whether giving a tech talk or leading a webinar, DevRel professionals need to be able to convey complex technical information in a clear and engaging way.
- Technical Writing: Writing is another critical skill for the DevRel role, with the ability to create accurate, informative, and engaging technical content, such as API documentation or technical blog post.
- Event Organizing: From hackathons to webinars to conferences, events are a big part of the DevRel job description, requiring skills in logistics, marketing, and other aspects of event management.
- Technical Proficiency: DevRel person does not need to be and experienced developer, but should be comfortable and be passionate about new technologies.
While these are just a few of the many skills that can be useful in DevRel, they should give you a good sense of what's required to succeed in this exciting and rewarding field.
How would the beginner have all these skills?
If you're just starting out in your career in Developer Relations, it can seem overwhelming to develop all the skills you need to succeed in the field. But don't worry - there are plenty of resources available to help you get started!
One of the most important things you can do as a beginner is to build up your technical skills. If you're pursuing a career in tech, chances are you already have some experience with a particular language or technology. Use that as a starting point, and start exploring other technologies and soft skills that interest you.
If you're a student, take advantage of your university or engineering school resources to learn as much as you can about the latest languages, frameworks, and libraries. Start building applications and open-source projects to help teach others and showcase your skills on platforms like GitHub.
Remember, the most important thing is to be passionate and curious about the work you're doing. As you gain more experience and develop your skills, you'll be well on your way to building a successful career in Developer Relations.
Follow these tips to find a first job in Developer Relations:
- Learn how to write and communicate effectively.
- Practice impactful public speaking.
- Build bridges and collaborate effectively with other developers.
- Don't be married to a specific technology; stay open to learning new things.
- Teach others as you learn, to keep your knowledge up-to-date and stay engaged with the community.
- Encourage and support others who want to pursue development or DevRel.
- Impersonate the role to get a realistic view of what it involves and to clarify your goals - try to work on open-source projects and build your portfolio.
By following these tips and staying committed to your goals, you can prepare yourself to pursue a career in DevRel. From there, you can start applying for roles such as Developer Advocate, DevRel Engineer, or Developer Evangelist, and work to make a positive impact in the community.
Remember, the key to success in DevRel is to stay curious, engaged, and passionate about your work. With dedication and hard work, anyone can become the next great Developer Advocate and help drive positive change in the world of tech.