As my now-teammate Sam Agnew once told me, a developer evangelist should have “the mind of a hacker, heart of a teacher, and soul of an entrepreneur.” The following anecdotes explain why this advice really resonates with me and why I’m ecstatic to be interning with the evangelism team in NYC this summer.
1. “Young, scrappy, and hungry.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
Who would attend their first hackathon and not work on an app, and then sit awkwardly to the side while everyone else demoed? That’s embarrassing, right? Well, that’s just what this wide-eyed freshman who had only a month of CS education under her belt did. I did, however, attend workshops, work on homework, talk to mentors and hackers, and soak up the innovative and collaborative atmosphere. I still didn’t know what git was, and my definition of an API was spotty, but feeding off of the passion, skill, and kindness of the Y-Hack community, you can bet I was bitten by the hackathon bug.
It’s the “mind of a hacker” ethos that I’m stoked to be able to help other developers embrace, this time turning the tables and using my own hacker skills to help inspire and equip developers both online and off.
2. Code and Community, Programming and People
Butterflies flurried around my stomach. My heart pounded like feet against the asphalt when you run around town. When I organized She++ Code Day a year-and-a-half ago (a one-day event with workshops, talks, and a panel) I felt pulled towards that specific community of a hundred high-school girls. I wanted to inspire attendees in the same way I had been inspired by a Girls Teaching Girls to Code event I attended at the start of my programming journey. That connection to an event that changed my own life helped drive what I wanted She++ Code Day to be for others.
I now help organize Spectra, a women’s hackathon, and because of those personal experiences with women in tech events, there is a special place in my heart — and thus my schedule — for being involved with tech events like those. Building relationships and connecting other developers are all fun and good, but it’s solving challenging new problems and learning alongside different developer communities that really flexes that “soul of an entrepreneur.”
3. Developer Evangelist: Tying it all Together
How could I want to be a middle school math teacher for eight years? It was my twin brother who won the math contests, not me. I was the one assigned math problems over the summer to work on concepts I had struggled with. But because of that experience, I felt that I could empathize with students like me who had struggled with it at times. I wanted to make learning math more fun.
That dream of being a teacher pivoted when I began meeting developer evangelists at college hackathons. I realized I could teach without being a teacher, and — bonus — this unique role also included traveling, programming, and writing, and still required empathy, patience, and seeing people reach that “aha!” moment. This is where having the “heart of a teacher” comes in…sign me up! Drawing from my own experiences learning to become a developer, I can combine my iOS, Android, and web development skills with helping other developers hone their crafts and learn to use amazing developer tools like Twilio.
New Summer, New City, New SAAS
Here’s a little secret: I chickened out on two opportunities this past year to demo Twilio at some hackathons. Yet within a mere three days of starting my internship, Devin, Ricky, and Greg already turned those demo butterflies in my stomach into caterpillars with a bit of rehearsal. I am now excited to live code (I never imagined I would say that) and serve other developers in, as Lin-Manuel Miranda put it, “the greatest city in the world.” If you’re interested in tech meetups on either coast, want to teach coding to middle- or high-school-age students, or want to talk about anything from tennis and ping pong to Disney and Broadway musicals, reach out!