24 months. It doesn’t seem to add up; “Developer Evangelist” still seems like the job I just started. I guess after writing code for a third of my life, that’s true. Learning and doing new things keeps me busy enough that I haven’t paid much attention to time sneaking past me. You could say that a lot has happened in those two years and nobody would call you a liar. SendGrid has raised more money, quintupled the number of employees, hit a couple bumps in the road along the way and continued a rapid pace of growth. When they offered me a job two years ago, I could tell this was a great company with a lot of potential. It turns out that “a lot” didn’t really capture exactly how far we can go.

While being an developer evangelist requires you to cut across departments and wear a variety of hats, during the last year I’ve settled into a few more defined responsibilities, chief of which has been assuming the role of product owner and developer for SendGrid’s customer-facing documentation. I have been traveling a bit less in order to ensure that our docs goals are accomplished. Thankfully, we’ve expanded the evangelist team, and that extra bandwidth has allowed us to continue achieving our goal of helping developers build things while we move some pieces around.

Looking Forward

When I switched from development to a role requiring more travel and more diversity of responsibility, I knew that it would have a limited lifespan; travelling brings great rewards, but can be physically and mentally tiring and sometimes at odds with life at home. Keeping several projects in the air from hotels and airports isn’t easy. Fortunately, the team at SendGrid has always made it clear that the company has a place for me beyond my current role. From what I can tell, the burn out countdown for evangelists starts ticking at around 18 months; our kick-ass evangelist Swift just left to build something successful on his own and those of us beyond the 18 month mark are looking for new responsibilities that don’t include as much road time.

The things I’ve done and the places I’ve gone while travelling during the last two years are something for which I will always be grateful. Making new friends, seeing new places, and hopefully helping a few people pursue their passions along the way has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Recently my mind has turned to what my next path at SendGrid might be and how the set of responsibilities that I’ve accumulated organically over the last year might transition into a more formalized role. We’re still working out the details and I’ll still likely have some travel in whatever job is next for me, but my goal is to take what I’ve learned in the field and use it to help make our products and customer interactions better in whatever way I can. Thank you to everyone that has been a part of this journey so far. I can’t wait to see where I am in July, 2014.

Brandon West
As Director of Developer Relations for SendGrid, Brandon's focus is on empowering developers to build things, gathering feedback for new features and improvements, and fostering a cooperative developer community for anything that needs email integration.