Developer Advocate journal #1

By Massimo Luraschi

What is a Developer Advocate?

The funny story is that when I saw the title in the job advert I asked myself the same question!

But then I read the job description, did some research, did some more research, and found some answers: first of all, it has nothing to do with avocados 🥑! The more I found out what a Developer Advocate does, the more I grew convinced it would be a good fit for me.

The definition of ‘Developer Advocate’ can vary depending on who you ask, and this fact makes it a little more confusing for people like me trying to learn about it, but I will try my best to explain what they do:

“A Developer Advocate is someone who helps Software Developers be proficient with a particular platform or technology.”

That’s it! Not confusing at all! Being a Developer Advocate requires establishing a clear two-way communication channel with developers, providing them with the tools they need to do their job and also listening to the community around the product under development. They must also be a point of reference for wider project collaborators, solve problems, and relay feedback to the product team.

An essential requirement for anyone wanting to be Developer Advocate is a background in engineering or development — you can’t be a Developer Advocate if you’ve never been a developer. You have to understand things from the developer’s perspective, and this only comes with front line experience.

I’m an altruistic person at heart, a trait that fits with a concept key to a Developer Advocate role — helping others. I have often found in the past that helping others was more fun and rewarding than dragging one more card to the ‘done’ column in JIRA or implementing the n-th change in a stale codebase.

Even in sports, I am a facilitator; I prefer creating assists and marshalling a good defense to scoring for myself. In short, I want my team to win, and in this case my fellow developers are my team.

Why Crypto and why Subsquid?

Back when I graduated high school, I told my parents I wanted to study computer science engineering, which came as a shock to them! It quickly turned into a huge fight, especially with my father: he could not fathom why I wanted to abandon chemistry and science, something I loved, had studied for five years and, in all honesty, was quite good at.

What they didn’t appreciate was that I am a very curious person, and quite stubborn, too — although this second one I think they did know! Once I have an idea in my head I simply cannot let go — I like to investigate how something works, and when that something clicks, the damage is done. I just have to quench that thirst for knowledge.

And in this specific case, 18 years ago, I had been fascinated by a dye dosing robotic arm in a tissue processing firm where I was interning at the time. I wanted to know how it was capable of doing its job so precisely — I was desperate to know how it worked.

Fast forward to 2017 and the Bitcoin bull market of that year. Like many, I was drawn to the space by the hype and the investment possibilities, but I stayed for the curiosity. Cryptocurrency and blockchain had grabbed me, and it wasn’t letting me go. I stayed up to date with the developments in the space, learned the fundamentals, and researched the various subjects surrounding it, but I wanted more. I wanted to be on the inside creating things rather than watching from the outside. Again, something clicked.

With Subsquid I have finally been able to enter this world, to create something special and unique. I have been fortunate enough to be able to reconcile my passion with my career.

My mission at Subsquid

Not only am I new to Subsquid, I am new to this role and relatively new to the industry and the technology too. However, I saw this as a challenge to be tackled rather than something to hide from. I have been wanting to stop defining myself as a JavaScript noob (I studied C, C++, Java at University and learned Python on my own) and gain exposure to other areas of the computing space.

Part of being a Developer Advocate is to onboard new developers in the crypto space and help them get a footing in the industry. Our product was created for this exact reason, so I will be putting this ethos to the test. I will be walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

As a software engineer, it is a common occurrence when starting a new job or project for there to be no written information and no one to ask for help. The first few weeks are like stumbling in the dark for solutions, finding them, losing them again, and finally, thanks to a chance conversation one day, seeing the light. Rinse and repeat.

Perhaps understandably, when working on a project we are often too busy bridging the gap, showing our worth, and, ultimately, delivering, to think about who is coming after us and to make life easier for them. I have tried to fix this in the past but got in trouble because I was told to “focus on my job”.

With Subsquid, for the first time I am being actively encouraged to improve the onboarding process for new starters, to make the learning ramp smoother, especially for those who, like me, are new to the industry.

Having known nothing of what being a Developer Advocate was just a few months ago, I can already see the value in the role — new developers get up to speed much quicker with me to guide them, improving the team and benefiting which only helps the end product.

And I am incredibly happy about it.

Join our Community!

To find out more about Subsquid, join us on our Discord server and chat to one of our helpful Subsquid team members or other users. For those who want some more background information on Subsquid and what it’s all about, our website and Medium page are the perfect places to start.

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Building a better standard for Web3 indexing and ETL. Support for EVM, Substrate, and WASM chains. http://t.me/subsquid & http://discord.gg/subsquid