Dara Oladapo

The Dev Advocate

Becoming a Developer Advocate

A friend reached out to me on Facebook a few days ago and asked me how he could become a Developer Advocate.

Here goes my response. Maybe I start with a story to bring some points home.

Who is a Developer Advocate?

In my view, a Developer Advocate is someone who “preaches” or enables the “preaching” of technology in one way or another.

The Story

I first had official contact with Microsoft in 2012 when my team registered for the Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition and we had the Microsoft Open Conference in my school – the Federal University of Technology, Akure.

I met Shina – who would then become my first boss and mentor. My first impression of him – I want to be like this man. Because I loved the way he “preached” Microsoft Dev Tech. He was the Developer Platforms Evangelism (DPE) Lead for Nigeria and WECA at that time. I followed Microsoft Tech like a faithful disciple from then – installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview and bugging Shina many nights when I had questions and issues with the OS. He would kindly answer all my questions and give me tips. I then ensured I would help others with any issues.

I remember Eva – my internship partner whose role wasn’t as technical as mine, he would ensure that all my speaking engagements were set, plan the events and execute – I would come in to give the tech talks and demos. We both reported directly to Kendra who was a mix of both before we joined Microsoft. Shina was a mix of us all – he clears the pathway, ensures we have the budget needed to execute, guides and “protect”.

My 2 Cents

To be honest, I’m not sure there are hard and fast rules or guides to becoming a Developer Advocate or Technology Evangelist. So, I’ll give a few pointers I can muster (while taking some points from those who are way ahead of me in this line of impact).

  • Be ready to help someone: take time out of your day to think of how you can improve someone’s technical experience
  • Don’t be a dick about what you know: I understand you may know a lot, do not make others who don’t know as much as you or do not meet your expectation to feel bad for now knowing things.
  • Show Up (Credits: Scott Hanselman): if you’re supposed to be on a weekly stream, show up and stream, people are waiting to listen.
  • There are more out there who are ready to listen than you know, so speak:
  • Be consistent: if you do your advocacy at specific intervals like podcasts, video lessons, streams, etc, try as much as possible not to break the flow. I understand it’s not easy when you have your day job calling.

How to Start?

What’s that idea you have of helping other developers?

  • Just start it
  • Plan
  • Get feedback
  • Connect with others

Are there times you would feel you’re making no impact? Yes. But as my friend Sam would say – we move. We don’t stop. If it’s just one life we’re able to make better, it’s worth it.

Got anything to chip in, kindly add them in the comments section. Thanks for reading.