As of today, I’m building communities full-time.

July 2nd 2021

I didn’t think that I would be writing this just a few months after publishing a post about leaving my first tech job in December 2020. But life works in mysterious ways.

Recently MC’ed my first (internal) conference at SBG’s Tech Fest 2020
Recently MC’ed my first (internal) conference at SBG’s Tech Fest 2020

Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) was recently ranked the 34th best UK company to work for, and from my short time there, I’m not surprised! I got stuck in working with Kubernetes, took part in a company hackathon, hosted an internal conference, and mentored by great leaders. I’m grateful for my time there ❤️

Curiosity

In my BT leaving post, I wrote: “my curiosity clearly won as it almost always does!” I was serious. At the core, this is who I am – an extremely curious person. Sometimes I follow something to the ends of the Earth.

As soon as I’m interested in something, I will research it, talk about it constantly, and the best part – somehow get other people excited about it too. Being described as wildly passionate in a world that can be repetitive and dull at times feels pretty good. It’s a trait that I’m ridiculously protective of as the waves of harsh reality from work and life often try to wash it away.

When I joined BT, I mostly had experience as a Software Engineer, with 60% of that experience being self-taught or me hacking away at things in my spare time and 40% professional experience. However, my deep curiosity led me to the world of DevOps, which opened the doors to me as both an SRE and DevOps Engineer at two different organisations.

Outside of work, my curiosity led me to the health world. As a result, positive habits are still embedded in my life five years on. On the community front, my curiosity fuelled a passion that has, in turn, led to impactful contributions to Code First Girls, AWS Community Builders and my most recent venture – Ladies in DevOps.

My curiosity on Developer Relations & Community Building

Since 2017, the world of Developer Relations (DevRel) has intrigued me. The more I dug deeper into what this role entailed, the more I was like, “This is my calling.”

At that point, I was helping lead the community efforts of Code First Girls, where I was focused on bringing together different technical communities. As I reflect, this was the time when I felt the most alive and driven by purpose. 

My partner captured this period well in an Instagram post.
My partner captured this period well in an Instagram post.

I’d also been active on social media and saw my most significant growth across platforms during the time as I openly built in public, openly created in public, openly failed in public and was openly me in public. 

“Woah, you’re just like you are on Twitter” was the most frequent thing that people had said to me as I travelled around the UK to different events. It felt good living authentically like that.

What is DevRel/Advocacy/Community Builder? Great question! I’m still learning as I navigate this world myself, but this blog post by Wassmin Chegham is a great read and this fantastic post by Mary with a focus more on community. How Netlify builds out its Developer Experience practice is another excellent read relevant to my new team’s mission.

A massive shout out to Justin, Kevin, Rosie, Eddie, Mary, Nader, Ali, Angie, the Captains of Community for all the inspiration over the past few months and some even years!!

The more that I spoke to DevRel and Community folks, the more I realised that a lot of what I was doing was already in this remit. Creating content, running workshops, spreading the word, advocating, public speaking, building developer relationships and communities all had my name on it. 

But even still – I wasn’t ready to even admit that I wanted to do it. Was this imposter syndrome? Who knows, maybe. Once I left University, I put the idea of pursuing this type of role to the side and focused on getting a job at a big firm where I could have my head down to learn. This approach worked out great. I’ve picked up a range of valuable skills, built myself up as an individual technical contributor and paid it forward by helping others through communities, mentorship and being vocal on different platforms.

Speaking about bringing people together at Women in Leeds Digital event

The moments that I felt the most alive was when I had the chance to solve problems and engineer solutions to those problems, with community building at the forefront of my work. This realisation would explain why I’d often volunteer for community-led initiatives/projects at every job I’ve ever had. 🤷🏻‍♀️

The right place at the right time

As I settled into my professional roles and contributed to the broader tech community, my confidence grew. Today, now that I’ve created a steady foundation in tech, I finally felt ready to tweet this:

A tweet by Pauline that reads: "I'll be in DevRel one day. Manifesting for the future."
Original tweet

Around this same time, Mike from Gitpod approached me with an opportunity to help build out the Developer and Community Success team at Gitpod. After a few conversations with Mike and co-founder Johannes, my heart was set. I would go for my dream role and help build Gitpod, a company whose mission aligned perfectly with my long-term vision and goals.

Also, I’ve always been curious about start-up life. Up until this point, I’ve been working in the giant walls of enterprises. Don’t get me wrong, these have been experiences that I feel lucky to have had early on in my career, but I’m excited about this new change. Mentors have often said to me that I would “suit” working at smaller companies, I believe that I do too. Let’s see. 👀 

Gitpod
You’re always ready to code with Gitpod!

Why I’m excited about Gitpod

🧡 Gitpod itself

What is Gitpod?

Gitpod is a container-based development platform that puts developer experience first. It provisions ready-to-code development environments in the cloud accessible through your browser and your local IDE.

Here are just some of the reasons that I love Gitpod:

  • Improved accessibility to tech and folks learning to code – it’s all in the browser, so you don’t need a fancy, high-spec laptop
  •  Improved Developer Experience – no more spending time installing dependencies before getting stuck into your project. Developers can jump into open source projects immediately. Mike’s blog post, “I said goodbye to local development and so can you” illustrates this point so well.
  • I believe that the future is bright at Gitpod. Soon, Gitpod will be an integrated part of developers workflow. I am manifesting it for the future. 😉

🌏 Fully distributed work

Gitpod is 100% remote.

When they say this, they mean it. It isn’t “fully remote but three days in the office or when your manager says so” this wasn’t my case at BT/SBG, but I’ve seen a lot. Instead, it is “fully remote; we have no office.” 

At first, I wasn’t sure if this was something that I wanted to do after doing it for the past year, but the way I’ve seen Gitpod operate tells me a different story. Being forced to work remotely and being fully remote from the onset – there’s a difference. Are you intrigued by how Gitpod operates? You can read more here. Geoff also wrote about how distributed Gitpod truly is with his office.

Any anxieties about remote working were quickly shut down when I thought more about the most important thing to me personally: freedom.

Freedom to work wherever I want means:

  • I have more time with my family and loved ones
  • The ability to work and travel (when it is safe to do so)
  • Not being restricted to working and knowing a group of people based on a specific location

Where’s my office, you ask? It’s the whole world!

🌱 Doing more of what motivates me.

Life is too short” has been my key learning from 2020.

Over the past few months, I’ve realised that I’m highly motivated by mission and product. If a company’s mission is aligned with mine, I’m in. If I love using their product as a customer, I’m in. If I can help others, whether that is making their lives easier or helping them advance somehow, I am in. Gitpod ticked all these boxes.

✨ The opportunity to work with a group of remarkable people

Every conversation I’ve had so far with the Gitpod team has been incredible. Initial impressions? The Gitpod folks wildly inspire me after following them closely on Twitter and admire their focus and passion for the product that they’re building. I can’t wait to surround myself with people who are just as equally passionate.

So…I’m officially a Gitpodder 🥳

I genuinely believe that Gitpod is doing something magical here for developers worldwide. ⭐️ Want to stay in touch with my adventures?

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My curiosity has frequently led me deep into these rabbit holes. But I’m glad! This is where I end up connecting with people along the way as I dig further. It’s almost as if my curiosity and digging have just been me all along, trying to create my own path. 🧡

Pauline teaching
Years ago: delivering technical content to the Code First Girls community

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