Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Paul, a dev advocate for Stripe based out of Amsterdam. I’m from the Netherlands, but have worked all over the world including London, New York and Singapore. Over my career I’ve worked as a Flash developer (really dating myself here), frontend engineer, full stack engineer and recently made the switch to developer advocacy.
I get a lot of satisfaction out of talking to developers, particularly if I can help unblock them or teach them something new.
What do you feel is the most important part of your job?
Really listening to people. It’s one thing to promote the latest and greatest product your company offers, but it’s all moot if developers don’t understand it or find it too complicated to use. A lot of the time people don’t know what they want either, it’s up to you to listen to them and suss out what it is that they really need.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of just being the middle man for feedback from developers to product teams. When really the service we provide is distilling all that feedback and delivering it to product teams as clear, actionable tasks.
What is something you’re struggling with?
Community building is hard! We have an active Discord server, however the exchanges there are very transactional. Getting people to stick around and form a community is proving to be really difficult. You need to toe the line of giving incentives to return to your community by providing good content and not bugging people so much that they find you annoying and mute your server. It’s all trial and error, as what works for other communities might not work for yours.
When something does click though it’s extremely rewarding.
Tell us about a time you were inspired by someone or something in DevRel.
Vercel recently had their Next.js conference, and it was just super smooth in its execution. Between the production value of the videos, to the great interface of the site itself (https://nextjs.org/conf), it all just clicked. The last few years that meant that we’ve all had to move to online-only events, and to me the Next.js conference was an example of what 2 years of iteration and innovation can lead to.
What’s one change you’d like to see in DevRel?
Despite DevRel being around for a long time, it sometimes feels like we spend a lot of time explaining what is it that we actually do. It’s become a right of passage to have a “what is DevRel and how did I get this job” blog post as your first after switching to the role.
I’d love to see DevRel spend less time trying to justify its existence, and more time letting the work speak for itself.