A musical theatre actor turned Developer Evangelist, Chloe has mixed her performance training with dev rel knowledge to great effect.
And, as she will outline in her presentation at DevXcon 2018, the two worlds are not as far apart as they may first appear.
Evangelism as performance
“I feel like developer evangelism is very much about performance. A lot of it’s public speaking, a lot of it is being the face of the company,” she says.
“I get to perform and do a lot of theatre-adjacent things through evangelism, which I love.”
Chloe was born into the theatre – her dad is a director/playwright and her mum is a costume designer.
With a childhood surrounded by greasepaint, it seemed inevitable that Chloe, who attended theatre summer camps and a performing arts high school, should go on to achieve a BA in drama.
However, at the same time, she had an affinity for technology: “But when I was a kid and pictured what an engineer looked like, I think I probably pictured a person in a lab coat and a hammer putting together a computer.”
It was only when Chloe landed her first starring role post-college that she realised acting might be a personal joy, but it was an economic disappointment.
Stumbling into tech
“When they told me I was going to be making about $500 for three months of my work, I realized that I had to get a day job like most actors do,” she says, “so instead of doing a restaurant job, I actually kind of stumbled into tech.”
That stumbling led to a sales role at pre-IPO Yelp! where she was excited by the start-up dynamic.
Her enthusiasm led to stints at Zirtual, KIXEYE and NewCo during which, by chance, she attended a Google talk focusing on getting young women interested in programming.
With encouragement, she took some classes online which then led her to Hackbright Academy.
A lightbulb moment
It was at Hackbright that Chloe had what she describes as her light bulb moment. The realisation that while most developers will generally shy away from public speaking, this was a skill she already had in abundance.
“That was kind of an epiphany for me, where I realized, okay, this is a unique skill that I bring to the industry,” she said.
“So when it came time to apply for jobs as a developer for the first time, I noticed that I got more bites from my evangelism applications because basically I was saying, hey, I’ve been public speaking for 20 plus years; pretty unique for a junior developer.”
It’s never too late
Given her own experience, Chloe is passionate about bringing people with non-traditional backgrounds into the world of tech and is keen to emphasise that it’s never too late.
“I think that what is really awesome about boot camps specifically is being able to show people that they can make these transitions later in life,” she adds.
“The industry is always asking where the diverse candidates are. And I always point out: well, actually you’re not really letting them through the front door. They do exist.”
In her talk, Chloe will share the knowledge and experience she has gained in both the entertainment and tech worlds, as well as sharing hints and tips from her current role at Sentry.io.
In particular, she is keen to establish as normal that entertainment is vital to building developer communities.
Make ’em laugh
Her talk will cover the ways in which she made #SentryScouts a gamified, entertaining, and engaged community.
“My thought process is that developers are people too, they like to laugh,” she says.
“I’m an actress that found her way into the tech industry, so I’m used to being entertained. At Sentry we’ve really taken that approach with the content that we make, and anything that we put in front of developers.
“I feel very lucky that Sentry appreciates and supports this approach; I feel that any kind of content that I consume that I find enjoyable, I am going to not only remember it, but I am going to refer back to that resource in the future.
“We try to keep it fun and very relatable.”
Chloe’s talk, Let me entertain you: how theatre influenced building a developer community, will feature at DevXCon 2018 which runs in San Franciso over June 4 and 5.
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Amanda Moran from DataStax talks through the good and bad of transitioning from engineering to dev rel in this session from DevRelCon San Francisco 2019.
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