Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I’m whitep4nth3r, and I help developers build stuff, learn things and love what they do. With a background in music, classroom teaching and comedy, and after a career as a front end developer and lead engineer, I moved to developer advocacy in 2021. After a very fulfilling year working with the wonderful folks at Contentful, I am beyond excited to be joining the DX team at Netlify as Staff Developer Experience Engineer in 2022.
What do you feel is the most important part of your job?
Connecting with people — without a doubt. Developers in 2021 are incredibly lucky to have access to a huge variety of online communities in which they can share ideas, learn from each other, get feedback on current projects and problems, and collaborate with other developers across the world. And I also feel incredibly lucky to be part of those communities — because I can learn so much every single day!
And connecting with developers comes in many different forms! The joy of helping someone solve a technical problem they’ve been struggling with is immeasurable for me — much like the invigorating frisson I experienced as a teacher when I helped a concept finally “click” in a student’s brain. What’s more, the experience that comes with my unconventional journey into tech gives me the privilege to be able to mentor and guide others into tech — and especially those with “non-technical” backgrounds.
Through these communities I’ve also made life-long friends, especially in the community that’s formed around my Twitch stream and Twitch team — The Claw. It’s the people and the relationships we form as a welcoming, warm and inclusive community that make this path in tech so rewarding. Because what are we, if not all human people, wanting to be seen, heard, accepted and loved?
What is something you’re struggling with?
What I always try to remind myself is that we’re all only human — and we can only do so much. The internet has a habit of amplifying all the wonderful productivity and hiding all those 1% days we all experience — and it’s always tough not to compare myself with others who appear to be more productive. And at the end of the day, this is really just a job. I’m 100% replaceable in my job — but I’m 100% irreplaceable in my family. My son won’t have another mummy — so I have a huge responsibility to stay healthy — for him and my family. I repeat this mantra daily and it really helps to keep my mental health on the right track.
Tell us about a time you were inspired by someone or something in DevRel.
I’m always inspired by people who use DevRel to lift others up, and celebrate and empower them. After all — DevRel is about the developer community, the people at the centre — and we have no purpose without them. This is what I endeavour to do through my work, and helps me find meaningful projects to work on to facilitate this. Cassidy Williams talks about this at length in a recent GitHub README project post, which is aptly titled “Lifting as you Climb”. As a tech lead and people leader in a professional past life, this was always my goal — to remove obstacles, empower people to achieve great things and put them in the spotlight.
What’s one change you’d like to see in DevRel?
I think the landscape has definitely shifted since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, when we were all invited into each other’s houses as we transitioned to remote-first working — and now it’s not entirely unusual to catch a glimpse of our colleagues’ family life over a video call. I’m definitely not about to fill my Twitter feed with photos of my son, but let’s talk about this more, and the impact it has on our work. After all, our children are part of the next generation of developers, and we should embrace speaking about the powerful impact we can have on their futures.