So You Want to Be a Developer Evangelist?


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Developer evangelists are a unique breed, a combination of developers, teachers, passionate communicators and frequent flyer mile collectors. SendGrid’s team is now over 10 people, who often share details of their craft on this blog. Below you’ll find a bit more about being a developer evangelist, from how you explain the job to others to putting together a demo.

A Day at a Hackathon as a Developer Evangelist

Developer evangelists do a lot of things, but going to hackathons is often a big part of the job. This puts you in front of new users of your product and at SendGrid we often find current customers, too. You can’t beat this kind of face to face feedback.

There’s a lot that goes into a hackathon, which Heitor detailed in his overview of API Hackday Denver. This will give you a taste of Heitor’s 6 a.m. wake-up through 9 p.m. (and beyond) wind-down.

Naturally, this is just one example. Many hackathons are multiple days and sometimes evangelists go to back-to-back events.

How I Explained Developer Evangelism to My Parents

Once you’re an evangelist, you’ll find a couple things happen when you describe what you do. If you’re talking to developers, chances are they may be a little envious. If you’re talking to the non-technical, you may run into confusion over the term and duties.

Luckily, Nick transcribed what I hope is a real conversation with his parents. He explains that he’s not evangelizing a religion, nor is he selling.

What’s in Your Developer Evangelist Travel Kit?

Remember when I mentioned the frequent flyer miles? That’s a real thing, because most evangelists travel a lot. You might think all that’s required is a laptop and a bucket of swag. While that’s important, surviving what is sometimes weeks in a row on the road does require a few more essentials.

Brandon asked some fellow road warriors and they let him look at their evangelist travel kits. Don’t forget extra batteries, cables, mobile hotspots and… pain relief drugs–anything to get you through the next event.

Principles of a Killer Hackathon Demo

Hacking, shaking hands and helping developers are all a big part of the job. When the time comes to “turn it on,” evangelists also need to give an amazing demo. You want to show off your technology and inspire the audience to get creative.

Elmer shows how it’s done in his principles of a killer demo, which has tips for evangelist and developer alike.

How I Evaluate a Developer Evangelist Candidate

Finally, when you’re back home and weary from traveling, you may think it’s time to hire someone else to spread the work around. If you’ve successfully shown the importance of an evangelism program in your company, then it will be time to find a passionate developer to make your fellow teacher and frequent flyer collector.

Brandon, who has recently transitioned to Lead Evangelist, shared how he evaluates developer evangelist candidates. He looks for product knowledge, development experience and a passion for improvement.

Does that sound like you? If the rest of this post hasn’t dissuaded you, then maybe you’re ready. Before you go down that road, gaze into your future and read about Brandon two years in–that’s a long time as an evangelist.


Adam DuVander speaks fluent "developer" while serving as Developer Communications Director. He helps SendGrid connect to coders of all stripes. Previously Adam wrote for Wired, Webmonkey and edited ProgrammableWeb, the leading resource for APIs.

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