Over the last year I’ve had the joy and privilege of being in charge of the SendGrid Ambassador Programme for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). My colleague, Yamil, has been in charge of the Ambassador Programme over in the United States and Latin America.
If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know by now that one of my absolute favourite parts of this job is teaching. I value teaching higher than anything. I believe if you have knowledge to share, share it. That being said, I jumped at the opportunity in December last year to take on the Ambassador Programme for Europe.
At a high level, our Ambassador Programme is a way for engineers to gain community experience, have developer relations values instilled upon them, see what life on the road is really like, and gain priceless experience in the field, as a developer evangelist.
Finding developer evangelists is hard. The combination of hacker and hustler is, whilst becoming more regular now, still hard to find. With the Ambassador Programme, we aim to take engineers from the community, and instill the must-have confidence and values that each developer evangelist carries.
Confidence isn’t something you can teach. It’s also not something that can be “learned.” It’s something that must be gained; through practice, work, and feedback. Some people are naturally confident – they have no issue in standing in front of an audience and giving a talk, playing a musical instrument, or whatever else. But by no means are these the only people who should be doing those things.
Gaining confidence is daunting, and it is indeed scary. I still get nervous before getting up in front of a couple of hundred people and giving a tech talk; of course I do. I’ve gained the confidence, through past experiences, and more than that, I now enjoy opportunities where I rely on that confidence.
Of course, public speaking isn’t the only thing you need confidence for. Confidence is also very much required just to be able to find random devs, and say (or shout) “Hey! How’s it going!?” Again, for a lot of people, this seems like a pretty abstract concept–but through getting involved, and gaining experience, you’ll soon find yourself doing it as second nature.
Confidence isn’t something that can be gained overnight, but in the Ambassador Programme, we aim to grow confidence through experience, and structured feedback – which no other programme in the world offers developers.
The value of values! Oh, how I could talk on and on, endlessly, about the values I hold closest to my heart in the developer relations/community scene…but I’ll try not to.
If you’ve got knowledge – share it!
We never stop learning. Take every opportunity you can to grab a hold of knowledge. Be it hacking, hustling, or beyond…always be open to learning.
Help fellow developers in any way you can. Got a cool service you’ve just started using? Share it. Got a VIM or Emacs tip you just learned? Pass it on!
To be passionate about your industry and to always want more. To always want to build a stronger community. To always want to be able to help more.
And the rest…
There are, of course other simple values–like common sense, a basic love/appreciation of other people, a sweet GitHub profile, etc.–that I look for in a good ambassador candidate. The four values above, in my opinion take precedence over any others, though.
Possibly the most valuable of all, the Ambassador Programme will give you real-world experience in developer relations. To my knowledge, the only way to gain developer evangelist experience is by actually being a developer evangelist. We’ve changed this.
Over the last 2 years, I’ve been a mentor, I’ve demo-ed, and I’ve participated in some of the biggest hackathons in the world. We’ve also had our existing ambassadors do the same. The real-world experience of representing an API, sponsoring, and serving as a mentor at hackathons across the globe is absolutely invaluable to anyone looking to work in developer relations in the near future.
Of course, on-the-road experience is probably the most valued and one of the most appealing things about the Ambassador Programme, but you also get to hack on our API libraries, write technical blogs, assist in customer support, and build fun things too… (Such as our SendGrid-Cobol library and Mine and Alex’s Haxmas!)
All of this stuff and more is real-world experience in working in developer relations. If you’re looking to work in Dev Rel in the future, this experience puts you ahead. By a clear mile.
Yamil was an Ambassador, then SendGrid hired him full time, and now he’s head of the Ambassador Programme for the Untied States and Latin America. Pretty good going!
If you like the sound of the Ambassador Programme, want to chat about it, have any questions, or just want to talk about community in general, please reach out to me! I’m more than happy to engage.