After more than 2.5 years working as an evangelist for Atlassian it’s time to look back on why the job rocks but also about the shadow sides. I guess every company have slightly different expectations when they hire for the evangelist role. At Atlassian we want raise awareness for our products and the company in general. We are creating products to help everybody that is involved in the software development process to work happily together. An ambassador at Atlassian has a strong development background and is not shy to talk to developers or jump on stage and talk about development in general. So it’s natural that a developer should fill that role.
My job is awesome
Speaking to developer
When I started I was a normal Java developer nobody knew. I started with going to conferences, was accepted to do some talks, met some other speaker, got invited to do some presentations and then got asked to do some keynotes! I really enjoy staying on stage and the more you do it, the less nervous you get. I say less, because I’m still nervous even speaking in front of a 10-20 people. I love putting ideas in peoples heads where they can grow. If I just can help 2-3 people start thinking more about improving their software development I’m a happy evangelist.
The community is great and people that I was looking up to when being a normal developer are now my friends. This job has open the gates for me to exchange ideas with thought leaders of this industry and believe me: They are also just humans
Being an evangelist involves a lot of travelling in my case it’s about 30%. You hang around on airports, train stations and hotel rooms. Sometimes my travel schedule is so tight that I don’t see anything from the great places you’re speaking. Sometimes I just have to force myself to take a later plane and walk around the city I’m visiting. I’ve seen great places in the last year like Moscow, Kiev (before the situation escalated), Sydney, San Francisco, Atlanta and many more. A great thing is also that I meet Atlassian’s everywhere. We have people from local offices or that work remote in that region staffing a booth, so they can talk to the local customers and learn how our products got used in the field. It’s great to catch up with so many different colleagues.
I got the privilege to decide for myself what I want to speak about, what article I would like to write or new ideas for t-shirts that we should create for trade shows. It’s a very creative job where you have to come up with new ideas and new concepts all the time. What will developer like to hear, what is currently hot in software development, what is Atlassian doing? It’s so great if a create stuff in my home office in my little town in Germany and than the marketing in San Francisco want to reuse it for their global campaigns. This is also what this job is about: I’m the guy on the ground, I talk to many customers, I talk to thought leaders, I talk to developers. From all this information I can maybe create a more appealing angle of the story we want to tell our customers.
And if I think it’s time for me to get my hands dirty I’ll start coding for a while, not creating a product but just to do some small things improving my day to day work.
My job sucks sometimes
When working for a while at home I’m starting to miss colleagues. People that I can talk to each day. HipChat video can help but it’s not the same than meeting them in person. We’re trying to do team meetings at least 3-4 times a year in Amsterdam and San Francisco. The switch to not creating a sustainable software that people use each day was kind of hard for me. I now got used that marketing is a much faster business and collateral you created last month is old stuff and not used anymore. Also traveling makes me feel lonely sometimes. Sitting on an airport or in a hotel room, just myself, my iPhone and my MacBook.
Most of the people I’m collaborating with are sitting in San Francisco. We’re trying to coordinate our meetings that they happen early morning in San Francisco / early evening in Germany. So it’s sometimes not easy to meet friends in pubs, bringing my daughter to bed or taking my wife out to the movies, but it gives me on the other hand the opportunity to bring my daughter to the football training in the afternoon or pick her up from school for going swimming with her.
In the end I must say that I have the best job in the world. You have to be passionate about your products, your culture and the community you engage with. This makes me jump up each day in the morning. I’m looking forward to open the eyes of people to see that they don’t have to suck in software development and that they can be happy developers by changing the way they think about this profession. I’m so pumped to tell people that we have an amazing job: We can be creative, we’re helping people to be more effective and we work with cool stuff. You just have to realize that this industry is dynamic and it changes fast and so do we as developers need to change constantly.
Help me not feeling so lonely!
We’re looking for a team mate for me in France and the UK! Do you want to hang around with me in old hotel bars, spend the night in front of a screen doing a video conference call with people in San Francisco, or just pissing in your pants before going on stage at a developer conference? Sounds great? JOIN US!