It was in the month of August 2021 when I was exploring the hills of Saputara on an invite from Gujarat Tourism, a message landed in my LinkedIn inbox. It was about an opening for a Developer Advocate. I did ignore it initially and didn’t revert until I came back to Hyderabad. I didn’t have much idea about the role, did some research, and figured out this is just what I wanted to do!
On December 6, 2021, I joined InfraCloud as a Developer Advocate. Today marks exactly one year of being a Developer Advocate. While, I have written about what I do as a Developer Advocate, in today’s post I’ll share my learnings over the year, lessons learned, and things you should do to ace this role.
From Manual Tester to Developer Advocate
As a kid, I wanted to be a pilot one day and a doctor on another. I’m sure many of you reading this would relate to this. Little did I know that I’ll fall in love with computers & technology in general. While I started my computer engineering course, I also started creating content albeit not technical. I landed my first job at Wipro as a manual tester.
From manual testing to automation, web development, data analytics, mobile app development, and project management, I dabbled in different technologies and roles just to ensure I get to code a little. I even developed Android apps and published them on the Google Play store. Some have 1.5 Million downloads!
During the course of time, I got to meet and pitch my ideas to Rishad Premji, Abid Ali Neemuchwala, and other senior folks at Wipro. While my personal blog was picking up pace, work was going well.
That’s when I enrolled myself in a business school to understand how business works. With a keen interest in marketing, I completed the degree. The best part, I enjoyed this more than my engineering, also paying your own tuition fee is the best feeling!
I transitioned into an evangelist role at work. Working with engineering teams on one side ideating and prototyping and engaging with marketing, pre-sales & sales team on the other. Helped bring projects from some of the big names in the industry. That was something I started to enjoy.
Soon after, this role of Developer Advocate came across and it made logical sense to me as I’d be coding, strategizing, and creating content while interacting with people, all of it which I love to do!
So over the last year, what did I learn as a Developer Advocate?
My Learnings As a Developer Advocate
One thing that I’ll admit is that I’m a jack of all trades. Be it writing something in Java, C#, or Python, I can be more than just a hello world. However, more than coding, it was the tech landscape and the open-source world I had to learn about.
Right from the interview assignment to today, I’ve been learning something or the other every day. From knowing Docker as a blue whale icon to using it to containerize apps and using Kubernetes to orchestrate them, I’ve surely come a long way. Not perfect, not an expert, but still much better than I was a year ago.
Be it learning about the simplest of commands like Ctrl+R to find a command in history instead of tapping the up arrow to learning about how to route traffic using Istio, I’m learning something new every day. And I think, that’s extremely important for this role. You need to be abreast with the latest happenings around. Be it tech or non-tech.
Change is the only constant
This is a cross-functional role. You’ll often find yourself working with engineering teams as well as marketing teams. One day you’ll be debating with the engineering team to include a new feature, and the other day you’re persuading your marketing team to do a marketing campaign. In short, change is the only constant.
You may not be coding every day, nor you may be creating content every day. The tech you may be working on might have a new update or a new competitor. And you need to ensure you’re up for it. For me, I’ve shifted gears while learning and writing about ArgoRollouts & Istio, and Zero Trust. Also worked out social media plans for conferences and community. As a developer advocate, you must be ready to accept and embrace change.
Network is Networth
While I was already active on social media creating content, it wasn’t relevant to my work. And hence I decided to create another Twitter account and become active on LinkedIn. In the last year, I can say I’ve connected with some amazing folks in the tech space. From people in the developer relations space to industry leaders, I’ve interacted with people.
#DevOpsDaysIN Day 1 Photo Dump.— Atulmaharaj 🥑 (@TheTechMaharaj) November 19, 2022
Met some amazing folks & had insightful discussions.
Also met some amazing #devrel #community folks @ghumare64 @JoshuaPoddoku @lavkushbiyani1
Day 2 here we come 🏎️
PS: If we didn't meet yesterday, let's catch up 👋🏼@DevOpsDaysIN @infracloudio pic.twitter.com/SaJfDThTpE
This network has helped me not only improve my learning and understanding of the domain I’m working in but also connect with more people. As part of DevOpsDaysIN – my first tech conference, I got to meet some of them in person, and it was nothing sort of amazing. Had some insightful talks about tech, content, and life in general.
Creating Valuable Content
One thing that is key to this role is content creation. As a developer advocate, you’re advocating for a tech, platform, or product. And you can do that more effectively by creating content. Irrespective of what type of content you create, make sure you create content that is helpful and adds value to your audience.
The key to creating valuable content is your understanding of the subject. And that’s where I’ll bring in the first point I shared, you need to keep learning always. Not only that, but you might also have to do some quick POCs to understand something better. I always believe that when writing about tech, you first need to understand it and the best way to do that is to use it.
Consistency is the King
Irrespective of whether you’re a developer advocate or not, you need to be consistent in whatever you do. Like this blog, I’ve been consistently posting at least two blog posts weekly for the last 10 years, there are more than 1200 blog posts on socialmaharaj.com.
Similarly, as a developer advocate, I try to be as consistent as I can. Be it scheduling content for social media or writing tech articles and learning. I rely on tools that help me automate certain tasks that help me be consistent. As they say in marketing, out of sight, out of mind. You cannot simply share a post and vanish, you need to be consistent at it. If you’re starting out, I’d say, plan for at least 3 weeks of content before starting out.
Lastly, the most important thing is planning. As I said, I have my foot in multiple things at one time. Writing for a client, writing for InfraCloud, planning some social media campaigns, reviewing blog posts, doing POCs, there are at least these many things on my plate at once. Trust me, it did take a while for me to plan it well.
I won’t say that I’ve mastered it, but taking it one day at a time. I usually start my day early and note down everything that I want to do. All the super focus tasks like researching, and writing happens early in the day, followed by all reviews, meetings, and interviews in the second half. And finally social media and other creative stuff post 3 PM. Though I try to follow it strictly, I do get distracted at times and things go for a toss. But compared to where I was a year ago, I’d say I’ve come a long way!
To many more years ahead
This post marks 365 days of me being a Developer Advocate. A journey that I loved. I’m thankful to InfraCloud for giving me the opportunity to learn and the freedom to do things that am like. Grateful to each and every of my Twitter follower and LinkedIn connections whose likes and comments, help me be consistent and motivated. Big shout out to everyone I met in person, who taught me not only about the role but life lessons too.
To many more years of learning, creating content, and interacting with the community. Stay tuned! Let’s connect on Twitter at @TheTechMaharaj (work), @Atulmaharaj (OG account), @Atulmaharaj on Instagram (Food, Travel, & daily updates) or get in touch.