Tell me about your role at Cloudinary
Tessa: This is a difficult one to answer as I just started my new role as a Developer Advocate at Cloudinary recently and finished onboarding.
My role over time will be more defined, as projects and goals are refined. (Hey that rhymed. There needs to be a dev rel rap song…). This role works closely with our marketing team and involves many tasks, such as community building, speaking at events, networking with developers, building partnerships of all kinds, gathering product feedback, engaging on social media, cross-team communication, creating content, keeping up with learning and improving technical skills, being involved in team initiatives that help improve our ecosystem, and basically being an awesome entrepreneurial.
I’m excited to see where my role leads me at Cloudinary and what type of projects I’ll be involved with down the road!
What brought you to this point in your career?
Tessa: Becoming dev rel at Cloudinary was a long roadmap of different jobs, including starting out as a web application developer, moving into teaching web development at a college, then getting a job as a Developer Evangelist (advocate) for a corporate company (Cisco).
All at the same time being involved in contributing to open source communities, frequently speaking at events as a hobby, and organizing several meetups and conferences. Little did I know that being a dev, teaching, presenting at events for fun, contributing to open source, and networking with different dev communities would lead me to a Developer Advocate role!
This was a role that was introduced to me in 2015 by a friend of mine who was, and still is, in Developer Relations. I mentioned I never planned on quitting my teaching job at the college, but sometimes life takes a turn and opportunities happen. I could never imagine doing anything else as this is such a great field to be in.
How does dev rel work at Cloudinary?
Tessa: Cloudinary’s dev rel mission is particularly interesting (and utterly challenging) due to the fact that (1) we’re enabling developers to build the “visual internet” and (2) our API-based media management solution can be utilized by and within a broad set of cloud platforms, frontend and backend frameworks and combined with a myriad other services and systems. Everything we do is measured by its potential to scale across complimentary ecosystems and across developer communities globally.
Our high-level objective is to maximize developer reach and engagement. This translates operationally into developer advocates producing educational content (tutorials, code labs) and participating in developer events (which, in turn, produce more content) that align with development trends the dev rel team has identified as themes we want to focus on. Individually, each developer advocate has significant freedom to pursue projects that align with their skill sets, team strategy and our key projects.
What’s your dev rel philosophy?
Tessa: My philosophy on dev rel? My philosophy is if you want to excel in dev rel, you have to stay well connected with the appropriate developer communities to help build your an ecosystem that not only helps your company but benefits and builds others.You have to keep learning and never stop learning to be able to keep up with the new trends and rapid change in technology.
What do you see as the big challenges for dev rel right now?
Tessa: I’ll keep it simple to two things:
METRICS: I’d say the ability to have an overall agreed way to measure metrics that becomes an “industry standard”. I have seen dev rel departments lose budget/collapse because of the lack of showing any kind of quick metrics that shows the company is profiting. Because dev rel is not sales, obviously, it is more focused on the advocating, promoting, and influencing end where profits and change can be seen more on the long term scale.
BURNOUT: It is very unfortunate, but I’ve seen it happen to so many people. They do everything, travel everywhere, get overly involved, and then they mentally collapse. Luckily I am able to catch it happening to myself when it starts happening to me and I take immediate action. It’s important that burnout prevention is less of a stigma and more seriously prevented.
What are you hopeful about?
Tessa: I’m hopeful about the Korean food I’m eating for dinner tonight. In terms of dev rel, I’m hoping it becomes a global term that people know (Developer Relations, Developer Advocates, Evangelists…) especially tech companies understanding the business value of why it’s important to have a Developer Relations team. (Check out a book by Mary Thengvall on the Business Value of Developer Relations).
How much do we think about the experience developers go through when learning new tech? How can we serve them better?
Naomi Pentrel from MongoDB talks through a framework for defining dev rel strategy for your team in this talk from DevRelCon San Francisco 2019.
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