The DevRel Journey
For years, one of the most exciting parts of the KubeCon keynotes was watching Google’s Kelsey Hightower demonstrate some new feature of Kubernetes live on stage. How could K8s possibly be so difficult to use when Kelsey is right there on stage easily controlling a cluster with his smartphone, making small talk all the while? He made us all believe.
In the past few years, the “Developer Relations Advocate,” or “DevRel,” has become a very real, and lucrative, job category, one coming from a need on the part of IT vendors. Drumming up interest in some new feature or service has traditionally been the role of the marketing department. But software engineers have been wary of marketing (and let’s not even discuss salespeople), and many marketing departments haven’t had the technical chops to hold the attention of the engineers. On the other hand, many companies have found that putting marketing in the hands of their most technically-inclined engineers will, while assuring technical accuracy, still leave many perplexed.
This is why good DevRel is such gold for companies. The role involves both technical know-how and being a people person. The ideal candidate needs to field questions from the thorniest of critics but at the same time have the empathy to ensure that people who don’t quite “get it” walk away with a better understanding.
If you have this fairly unique set of skills, you might want to check out a new post this week on The New Stack, “DevRel for Beginners: What to Know and How to Get Started,” from one of our newest freelance writers, Kevin Casey. The article offers a number of tips for getting started down this career path. In starters, it requires honing your speaking and writing skills, becoming an advocate for developers and, perhaps most importantly, learning to listen.
As Jorn Knutilla, solution architect and DevRel advocate for NeuVector told Casey, “If you approach DevRel with an attitude that you’re smarter than everybody else — well, this is not going to be the role for you.”