“What is peanut butter?” A question many of us have not pondered while eating delicious PB&J sandwiches in elementary school cafeterias. However, for ten-year old Alina, peanut butter was one of life’s many mysteries.
But more on peanut butter later. While I have called Texas home for over 15 years, barbeque, peanut butter and most importantly, the sun weren’t always part of my life. I was born in a small port town in northern Russia called Murmansk. Murmansk is known for some of the coldest temperatures and longest winters in the world, being not too far from The Arctic. To say I am not a huge fan of cold weather is an understatement.
Growing up in a family of programmers, my home had a PC and my first computer interaction was doodling on Microsoft Paint. Little did I know the role loving technology early on would soon have in my life.
When you're finished changing, you're finished.
My family moved to Texas when I was ten and from that point on, change did not seem as scary. I once read a quote by Benjamin Franklin that resonates with me in moments of uncertainty, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” To keep changing and growing became a personal mission.
Immigrating to a new country was not only difficult due to the language barrier but also through navigating cultural norms and preferences...including eating PB&J sandwiches for the first time. Luckily, technology allowed me to connect with new friends over Tekken and Crash Bandicoot PlayStation games, where speaking different languages no longer mattered. The community I felt through technology showed me its magic to bring people together over language and cultural barriers.
I would like to say my journey as a developer began in a college Python 101 class. But to date myself, it actually started customizing MySpace and Xanga web pages. You can’t tell me you don’t miss the blasting music and glitter, marquee banners scrolling across the page.
You mean, this can be a job?
As I transitioned to life at university, I took on new opportunities to change and grow. While exploring business and computer science courses, I wasn’t entirely sure how my love of bringing people together through tech and giving them a sense of community could ever turn into a career.
My first “professional” role was as a technical consultant, where I got to see the cross between helping others understand new technical concepts and building solutions for people at different phases of their tech journey. I got to introduce someone for the first time to the concept of what a “cloud” is and also develop complex systems at large enterprises.
Working with external audiences drove the desire to keep helping others learn technology and connect people together. This brought me closer to my dream role of working in Developer Relations. I loved the combination of helping developers, learning and presenting on the newest tech and most importantly, building communities for people across the world that were also seeking a shared language and connection through technology. I worked with developer communities across different audiences and got to see the impact of technology providing a country access to banking services for the first time or to provide college students a community club on their local campus.
Today, I am thrilled to start the next change in my journey of serving developers and helping bring people together through Developer Evangelism, as we fuel the future of communication together. And yes, I still to this day enjoy PB&J sandwiches on my lunch breaks at work!
Alina Rakhmatoullina is the Developer Relations manager for the NAMER region. She is passionate about building programs and communities for developers in all stages of their journey. Alina can be reached at arakhmatoullina [at] twilio.com