They’re at every event. Speaking, chatting, hanging out at the party. They wear their company’s name and logo on their sleeve (or hoodie or t-shirt). These people live for the tech communities they interact with. But few really know what it’s like to be a Community Engineer or Developer Evangelist.
It’s time to find out.
It’s Easy to Just Do a Talk
Most people attend conferences and see talks given by folks who are practiced and speak with ease on both the heavy technical subjects and the personal development issues (sometimes irreverently referred to as “soft talks”) and think to themselves, “That must be pretty easy! It’s not something I want to do, but anyone could.” This, is not the case.
Developing a talk can be just as arduous and research intensive as working on a new application. When you finally take the stage, you become the authority. If you miss something or say something that is incorrect, you are in the spotlight and on the hook to fix it on the spot or find yourself slipping down the slope of denial to save face. A presentation is made up of current knowledge and researched knowledge. It needs to be of benefit to many people and not just an opinion piece.
As Community Engineers and Dev Evangelists do this as a major part of their jobs, they spend a large amount of their time tweaking talks, keeping things pertinent and up to date, and ensuring they have the information they need to deliver top notch information.
Then there is the actual speaking. Eloquence is important and can be practiced, but many people have difficulty taking those steps up to the podium. It’s a tense moment and overcoming it is what makes the difference between a confident speaker an audience trusts and getting the knowledge but with none of the feeling the person delivering has the foundation of authority on the subject.
There Is No Burnout Like There is for Developers
Picture it. An airport in Detroit. You know where every gate is by heart and you realize that you have a favorite restaurant. Suddenly you realize how many times you’ve touched down in DTW in the past 6 months and you are suddenly more tired.
Dev Evangelist Keith Casey put it quite succinctly in his blog post from last year. This job can be the best and the worst - all at the same time. Yes, we get to see the world and meet people and have fun. However, that comes at a price. The average Community Engineer or Dev Evangelist doesn’t last much more than a year if they are high-paced, and being high-paced is the name of the game. This is partially due to having the divided work of being a developer and additionally turning around to present talks and attend conferences. You are always on, and that takes it’s toll, as it does in any job.
We Live to Party
Everyone enjoys hanging out and getting to know the members of the community. Be that in a bar, at karaoke, in a restaurant, or just hanging out at the event itself. Often, you’ll see a Dev Evangelist at the center of the party: talking to everyone and having laughs over everything laughable and nodding in all the right places on the serious issues. And it’s fun, and we love to be there.
But consider this…you get up at 7:00 AM, get ready for the day, head to the venue, check in at your company’s booth, attend talks and talk to people all day, grab a quick dinner, then off to the party. And you stay until it ends. Twenty hour days begin to add up quickly. It’s often difficult to take good care of yourself, eat well, and get some downtime when you are on the go for so long.
I’m not saying we don’t enjoy a good party or hang out or get together, I’m just saying it can wear a person down.
Being a Dev Evangelist has all the great parts of being a developer and all the great parts of being a serial tech event participant. Finding the fine line between it all and walking it is what puts the difference between a good evangelist and a great one.