I wanted to write a short article on my transition from a full-time Software engineer at Tesla, to becoming a Developer Advocate for Progress Software eventually landing at Couchbase, a document database company.
This summer I went through a career change that started with a mass layoff at [Tesla]. Previously I had also worked at SolarCity. I and about 4000 other employees give or take, were let go and because of California's WARN act, we were given a few months to retrain (mandated by the State of California). This helps to ensure that when massive amounts of people are displaced at one time, they have the time to find new jobs and retrain.
I took several courses on React over the summer from Pluralsight and Egghead.io as well I was forced to learn and build many demo applications through interviewing for companies. I interviewed with LinkedIn, PayPal, Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb, and Cruise Automation. The skills and knowledge I picked up from forcing myself on many interviews were incredible and even though I took a job as a developer advocate I don't regret pushing really hard on engineering interviews, in fact, I had only one interview for a developer advocate position. I chose the developer advocate position because I not only had a friend working in the same position and I had a really good idea of how this move could give me more freedom, creativity, and exposure to React.
I started in September of 2018 and now, in late October I have published a few articles. One of them on Create React App 2, which is an article that has nothing to do with our product, the topic is the release of React JS' latest CLI tool, and it does speak to the audience of developers we have reading our blog. I point this out because I feel that sometimes we don't have reasons to talk about the product we work for, and simply writing on topics that are interesting will bring you, new visitors, to your blog and maybe even a really good turnout all around.
I'm working now on other projects for the blog as well as demos for future content, I'm very happy with both articles and have definitely kicked things off with some good forward momentum which feels good heading when starting a new job. Of course, now that I have that momentum, I need to keep it moving forward. I think I could keep up at this pace writing articles and having a decent amount of work to show by the new year.
Aside from writing, I have also been attending meetups like the Reactivate Meetup in San Jose and conferences like the GDG Fest in San Francisco. Meeting new people, hearing interesting topics, taking lots of notes on ideas for content and new projects as well as handing out some swag and KendoUI socks.
The job requires a bit of travel, and if you're the type of person that doesn't mind this, a developer advocate position might suit you. In a few weeks I will fly to Sophia Bulgaria in order to attend a conference put on by Progress and this is where I will meet most of my team for the first time as I have been working remotely which is another reason I really enjoy the job. In 2019 I traveled about 15% of the year mostly to Europe and since then in 2020 have continued to speak to conferences at my new job helping with developer experience at Couchbase.
A big part of the job that could take some getting used to was learning how to plan, promote and ultimately speak with authority on the various products and tools for whatever company I have worked with.
From getting over the anxiety of speaking in front of hundreds of people in person or in some cases thousands of people virtually, this can be one of the hardest parts of the job if you come from a traditional software engineering background. As well as managing the travel arrangements as previously mentioned and showing up with a good presentation will be something I continue to learn more about with every talk that give.
Being in control of your content and working from home is a great feeling, get a job with the right company that lets their advocates do their job and you will be able to do this. Also, the working from home part can be tricky but is also very rewarding. I worked for three years driving back and forth to the Tesla Factory and admin buildings and that's not easy on your vehicle, stress levels, and pocketbook. I really would encourage other developers to seek out all opportunities available before subjecting themselves to a job that requires commuting in a place such as the Bay Area. There are a lot of opportunities when seeking employment to strike a deal to work from home for some or full time. Take that if you can.
Hope you liked this look into my experience so far with becoming a Developer Advocate, I still get to do a lot of coding, and in most cases around things that interest me. I get to learn, teach, write and travel, still trying to come up with some negatives of the job, maybe I will run into some but at some point, but for now it's smooth sailing. I hope to do an update once I start doing more public speaking and conference talks. Thanks for reading!