Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a developer and systems engineer who started learning about Linux and open source as a hobby. I worked at a small university doing help desk, phone, and desktop support before transitioning to a systems administration role.

Throughout my jobs, I always liked helping people get into tech and learn new things because tech changed my life. I didn’t know what it meant to be a developer or what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to keep learning and sharing.

My career took a major turn when I shifted from being an administrator at a small university to being an engineer at Disney. I got to learn so many new things about the media industry, being a part of a large development team, and large-scale systems. I learned so much more, but I wasn’t allowed to share what I was learning.

I wasn’t satisfied with just learning things myself so I started learning new things that weren’t directly related to my work. I would spend nights and weekends learning and sharing. I would take vacation time and pay out of my own pocket to go to conferences and participate in open source communities. I spent a year writing a book at night just so I could help others not make the same mistakes I made. It wasn’t enough for me.

I’m now a full-time educator and it’s my job to help people. It took me a long time to adjust to that. Improving services, writing blog posts, creating videos, and learning about new tools are all things I get to do as part of my day-to-day work and I love it!

What do you feel is the most important part of your job?

The impact I can have in people’s lives is the most important and rewarding thing for me. I can do that by directly teaching them one-on-one, by creating content that reaches masses, or even by improving the products I work on to make something better for someone without them knowing.

The personal connections I get with people when helping them directly is the most rewarding because I can experience their joy and the light bulb moment firsthand. Meeting new people and hearing their stories, struggles, and successes helps me stay grounded and remember why I do what I do.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a new developer or one of a thousand engineers at a large company. You are a person and your happiness and success matter. It’s important to me that I get to have an impact in both cases.

What is something you’re struggling with?

I struggle with focusing on how and where I help people. It is easy to try to help everyone with everything but it’s impossible to do. Sometimes it’s more important to help more people with a blog post or video and I have to say no to other opportunities.

Being an advocate widens my responsibilities and has less structure than my previous engineering roles. I don’t have a Jira backlog, progress standups, or sprints. It is my responsibility to know how I should spend my time and prioritize requests and my own ideas.

Tell us about a time you were inspired by someone or something in DevRel.

I’m inspired frequently by people that reach out to me and tell me they’re learning tech. They want a better life for themselves and their families. They’re putting in the work to go out of their comfort zone and take a risk.

Oftentimes those people are minorities in tech. Sometimes they’re in countries that don’t get the same access and resources as I have and they’re making it work. They’re learning from their cell phones on public WiFi. They’re putting in long hours after kids go to bed because they have hope it’s worth it.

And they’re turning around and sharing everything they know freely with others. They’re inspiring other people to take the risk and put in the work. They may not be getting paid for what they’re doing but they’re doing a DevRel job. They inspire me so much!

What’s one change you’d like to see in DevRel?

I’d like DevRel to focus less on DevRel. There are often discussions about how we can get better at our craft which is great to expose people to what the job does and learn from others, but too much internal focus is easy to miss why we do this work.

We can sometimes focus so much on ourselves that we aren’t empathetic to the people we’re supposed to be helping. We create content for numbers that are meaningless. We step on stages to promote ourselves. We ship products for our own satisfaction.

The best people I know in DevRel do the job because they care deeply about people. They have a passion for technology and know they can help people be better at what they do to get a new job or better their lives through their skills and knowledge. They put themselves in other people’s shoes to struggle with them and make sure the next person doesn’t have to do the same.