Software Developers Journey Podcast

#108 Cassidy Williams at the core of developer experience


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Cassidy Williams 0:00
I never want to be someone like Jeff Bezos, where there's just tons and tons of thousands of people reporting to me. When I was younger, I thought that's what I was supposed to want. And now I've realized I would much rather be hands on with people and help them get to higher points in their careers. If they want to be a CEO. Great. Let me figure out how to help them be a CEO, if they want to be a tech lead, great. Let me help them improve their technical skills so they can get to that point. I like that aspect of tech a lot more. And that doesn't mean I have to be a VP of engineering to do it doesn't mean I have to be a CEO to do it. And that's that's probably the biggest takeaway. I learned from taking on all these different roles and understanding how companies work.

Tim Bourguignon 0:53
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of Successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today I received Cassidy Williams. Cassidy is a principal developer experience engineer at netlify. She often makes silly videos on the internet, or maybe not so silly videos, we'll see. She enjoys building mechanical keyboards and playing music in her free time. Cassidy, welcome to DevJourney.

Cassidy Williams 1:23
Thank you for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 1:24
So Cassidy the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the beginning, the start of your journey,

Cassidy Williams 1:40
I would start that beginning right when I was in eighth grade. So when I was 13 years old, I was walking home from school in eighth grade and I heard someone say check out my website. And I remember just asking tons of questions in wait you can have one of those. And and I went home and I just started looking up how to make websites and It was that moment I was hooked.

Tim Bourguignon 2:02
What attracted you to creating your own website,

Cassidy Williams 2:06
I so I've always liked building things just from from when I was very young, I loved maybe playing with Legos I loved just putting things together doing crafts, that sort of thing. And the idea of being able to make something that then I could let anyone see the idea of making a website where I could just tell someone to go to it, and anybody could just look at it, and it's making something out of nothing. That was that was a game changer. For me. It totally just opened my eyes to all the different things that I could just make, because I think I should make it

Tim Bourguignon 2:42
you make a difference and that point between between virtual and material crafts, so building something with your hands, and I mean, you're typing on the keyboard, so it's building with your hands as well. I'm interested in why it Why you went up into the creating into the virtual world and more than the non virtual world? Oh, God.

Cassidy Williams 3:07
Yeah, well, don't get me wrong, I still have my fair share of Legos at home and I can have the time. Yeah, it was just something where I just, I just loved the idea of being able to make something out of nothing, and not have any barriers. Besides just my own knowledge. There was so much I could learn and be creative with. And code is a lot like Legos, you build together little blocks of code that then work together to make something awesome. And when you look at my first website, it was something very silly, it would just be various pictures of like, monkeys that I thought were cute, and stuff like that. And this was also a while ago, so there weren't as many resources as there are today. But I just I just loved the idea of being able to make something sharing it, and anybody could look at it. I could put this website on the internet and I could call my grandpa down in Florida and say, hey, look at this. He could. And it was it was a whole, there was a whole world of things that I had never known about. And it was just a way to, again, be be creative, logical and, and have fun with it.

Tim Bourguignon 4:12
How did you learn? Oh, boy?

Cassidy Williams 4:15
Well, so there is this one website and it was the only website I could find at the time because again, I was a teenager and it was early. There was a website called Lisa explains it all, where it was just this girl who shared how to use HTML and and I used that a ton to figure out how HTML works. And then around that same time, Neopets was pretty popular. And so I use Neopets guilds to learn how to write CSS. And I was a little too young for MySpace. So I didn't I didn't know much for that sort of thing. But though between kind of just exploring how HTML works, and then and then doing it on Neopets, that was that was definitely kind of my gateway drug my entry into the field. And then from that point, that's when I started to find forums for developers. And I found all these web design and web development forums where I would hang out and say, Okay, what does this mean in JavaScript? Or what can I copy and paste to make my website cool. And I just kind of looked up stuff to try to figure out how to learn things and figure out how, how certain things worked. And I didn't really know the difference between designing a website and coding a website, it was all the same to me, I was just trying to make something and so I learned how to use the GIMP and Inkscape and stuff to make graphics for my website. And I learned about search engine optimization and how to make it so someone can Google you how to how to market a website, it was all just experimental and it was very open field because again, it was it was just long enough ago that there weren't a lot of resources out there. And so there weren't any blogs. I could go to because blogging was still relative knew there weren't even YouTube videos I could go to because YouTube was still relatively new. And so it was really just me exploring and trying things, looking up the source of a website, the source code and reading the HTML to see how someone did something.

Tim Bourguignon 6:15
But when did you realize that this could be more than scratching your own itch and satisfying your curiosity and become maybe a job, maybe lifelong search for more, more fun and joy?

Cassidy Williams 6:29
This was I didn't know for a really long time, actually, I didn't know until I was in high school. And when they started having college fairs and explore these careers, types of fairs, I kind of thought of making websites as something either businesses do, or someone like me that does for fun. I didn't fully understand the fact that it could be a career for a really long time. And I remember very clearly, my parents didn't know it either. My parents aren't very technical people. And I remember very clearly we went to college For once, where it was just like you could go to one of these schools. And we will tell you, I don't know about the certain kinds of careers that you could take if you go to the school. And a college recruiter, told my parents, they looked at my mom dead in the eye and said, she can write her own ticket to a great job if she pursues this technical thing. And both my parents just kind of looked at each other. Like, what? This isn't just, this isn't just her playing on the computer too much. It was it was all so new to us. I didn't even I didn't grow up with a lot of video games. I didn't, I didn't grow up with a lot of technical things. And so it truly was a very new thing that I discovered by chance, and kind of hoped it would it could be something that I just played with. And when I finally realized that it could be a job, suddenly, I was like, Ooh, this is something that I could play with forever. If I play my cards right. And that's really kind of what started it and what led me to taking AP classes for computer science and then eventually going to college. for computer science and then getting a job in computer science,

Tim Bourguignon 8:04
how did you then decide how to play your your cards,

Cassidy Williams 8:07
I just kind of did what my teachers told me for a while. In high school again, I was still kind of just playing around. And then I took AP Computer Science. And I was like, oh, Java, this is how real developers code. And then when you go into computer science, it's much more theoretical. And so I was learning all kinds of just data bases and data structures and algorithms and the mathy side of things. And it was it was a great thing to learn. I loved college, and I really loved learning that kind of stuff. But I admit for a little bit in there, I kind of lost my creative edge a bit because I was just trying to get through the degree, learn what I can and get a job. And then it was towards the end of my college degree where I was much more involved with my computer science club. I was leaving the computer science club. I had had a few internships under my belt. I was starting to do hackathons because those were starting to become a thing. And that's when I started to get that creative itch again and started to realize, wait, this, I've learned all this stuff now. But now I can really apply it and make a lot cooler stuff instead of just kind of experimenting and trying. I know how to build stuff. I know how to build something cool. And that's, that's kind of where it started to get really exciting for me again, like I don't think I ever really lost my love for coding, but I certainly got in the thick of it when I was when I was starting. Just studying it for real. And then by the time I did start working professionally, I realized, okay, yes, I love coding, but I also love the creative side of it. I love the people side of it. And I started telling companies that I was interviewing was when I was in my senior year of college, I was telling them, okay, yes, I love coding and i and i want to do this but I also want to use that other side of my brain to what's a way where I can be more than just a coder, where I can be creative with it, where I can speak to people about coding where I can write about coding, and that's That's kind of what got me involved with Developer Relations where I still did a lot of software engineering. But I was also speaking at conferences and events, meetups, hackathons and that sort of thing. And that, that kind of really has driven me to where I've gotten today in my career,

Tim Bourguignon 10:16
hopefully with this in your in your career that you started, was this more than coding? Was it right from the get?

Cassidy Williams 10:23
Yeah, that was right away. That was that was when I was still in school. Because again, I was being really involved on campus, I made sure to be in all sorts of clubs. And I was trying to go to conferences whenever my class schedule would allow me to go. And I would just apply for scholarships to be able to go to certain conferences and things. And I as I started to realize that this was a possibility. For me this, this was something that I could do that I could do more than just coding. I remember I talked to some people at a hackathon, and they're just like, Oh, actually, it's my job to represent my company at these events. Here. Let me help you with this, this project. And I just kind of saw them and was like, ooh, I want to do that. I want to help people with their projects. I want to be at these events, and hack things together make cool things like I like I had done when I was younger, except now I wanted to be professional. I want to be able to do this. And so yeah, right out the get go. That was that was something I wanted to do. Wow, that's cool.

Tim Bourguignon 11:23
Yeah. How do you do manage to make it to make it work

Cassidy Williams 11:26
to make it work? I basically just kept interviewing with companies my senior year. I don't even know how many companies I applied to probably more than 100. I wanted to tons and tons of companies just trying to find a role. That would be awesome. And I had some initial job offers where they were just straight engineering roles, and I seriously considered them I was just like, Okay, this this sounds great. But then, as I was expressing this desire to companies to do, again, more than just coding. That's when I started to discover developer advocacy or developer relations. To developer evangelism. And that is, that is where I started to see that companies were hiring for it. And it was it's still a relatively new part of tech. It's still a relatively new industry compared to other roles. But people were people were hiring for them. And so my first job out of college was at Venmo, which is a payments company, which in the US, it's very popular. It's not as popular outside of the US. I don't know if it's outside of the US, but it's owned by PayPal now, but they asked me, could I be a software engineer, but also do developer evangelism, developer advocacy work for them and speak at conferences on on their behalf show people how to use the Venmo API on their behalf. And that is what sold me on the role and that's how I ended up getting involved with with developer evangelism and that kind of snowballed from there every every single job since then, there have been a few roles where I've just been a straight engineer which I've I've enjoyed, I again, Do like coding. But the jobs that I've really, really enjoyed are ones where I can code but also do more than that where I can, for example, right now write blog posts, speak on podcasts, speak at conferences and events and show people what they can do with code.

Tim Bourguignon 13:17
Do you have the feeling that you have to to oscillate between between going hard enough to take and then going back more to the people side or more to the Devereaux side and then back into the the tech, so also wiggling from one to the other? Or are you kind of managing to remain on the edge and do both at the same time?

Cassidy Williams 13:38
I like the idea of being on the edge. I don't know how sustainable that is. There's there have definitely been roles I've had where I've just burnt out hard because I've done both too much. There is one point at Venmo where I was coding full time nine to five. And then I was speaking in addition to that, and there was there was one point where I spoke 14 days in a row. I I spoke at a meet every single at an event and meet up every single day for 14 days in a row, in addition to my day job, and oh my goodness, I burnt out so hard. It was a bad choice to do that. But I was just like, Yes, I want to do everything and just said yes to everything. It was a bad choice. I luckily, that was a good learning experience. And I haven't I haven't done that since. But she was out that was that was a rough time. And and so it is one of those things where you kind of have to oscillate on occasions. I, I know a lot of people in Developer Relations, they tend to call it an engineering sandwich where they'll do a dev Roll, roll, and then they might burn out after certain point because they've spoken too much. So they switch to regular engineering for a while, and then go back and it's just kind of back and forth. I've kind of done that amongst jobs. I've squeezed in some straight engineering jobs. Like I said, I was an engineering manager at one point, and now I'm back in devrel. And I really like it but one thing that my Role nullify allows us, our team occasionally does product rotations where you can be on a rotation to be on the just product engineering team for a while before you go back to our team, which is developer experience engineering, which is developer relations with more coding, basically. And it's, it's something that I like the opportunity to have. But right now I am in a very, I love deverill mode. So I don't see myself switching back and at least for a little while.

Tim Bourguignon 15:32
Quite often, you're the the terms that you hear advocate, you hear, evangelist, what's what's your your definition of all this? Is this all the same? Do you see some differences in there,

Cassidy Williams 15:45
I kind of put it all under the umbrella of developer experience. You're trying to improve the experience for your developers. And so a lot of people talk about user experience. You want your users to be able to use your applications well, but for people In developer relations as a developer, advocate, developer evangelist, whatever you call it, your primary goal is developer experience dx instead of UX. And so I, I don't really see a major difference between the roles. Some people like to put a definition between the different ones, but I really see it under again, this developer experience umbrella, you're trying to make it so developers have a good experience with your platform. They know how to use your platform, they understand it better, and you can take their feedback, you can take their bugs and stuff and help figure out how to make that experience better. And so it's, it's kind of like a combination of software engineering and marketing and support and and program management, Product Management. It's a very well rounded role, and it's a really interesting way to be technical, while also flexing your other muscles. Sounds like it sounds really

Tim Bourguignon 16:55
like that like kind of a jack of all trades, of all the different things sense of the product of engineering of maybe documentation and learning a bit of everything.

Cassidy Williams 17:08
It really is. And different people specialize in different things to one of my teammates. She's amazing at writing blog posts, the there is a point in the month of January, she wrote a blog post every single day. And that blows my mind because I can barely get out a blog post, like once a week, and she's just awesome at it. And meanwhile, one of my other co workers she is just amazing at building technical things like she she doesn't really like doing the blog post thing. She doesn't really like posting on social media but when it comes to building technical aspects of the product, technical demos, things that will help people improve their technical chops. She is a killer at it. And so it really depends on on the person in the in the role and on the team. And what I like about my current team is that everyone specializes really well and well still being a jack of all trades, like you say where we all can do certain things. I can write blog posts, I can do social media, I can build demos I can live stream and stuff. But we all we all know our strengths. And and we've been kind of told play to your strengths, because we trust you. And I think that's, that's a really awesome aspect of any team really.

Tim Bourguignon 18:21
Which one will be your strength?

Cassidy Williams 18:23
Oh, probably making memes. That was one thing that I pitched as soon as I joined, I was like, What if we make tic tocs, but about code, and they're just like, Okay, well, if you want to, I said I do. So I've definitely made some for netlify. But for myself, I really like the teaching aspect of it. I like talking developers through things. And so one of the things that I really like to do is making online classes. I'm slowly planning my live streaming channel that I want to start where I can show people how to build certain things and walk people through how to build something putting together tutorials and classes and stuff that that's what I really love to do. I think it's so fun.

Tim Bourguignon 19:04
Every agreement and you spoke about burnout is something we can talk about.

Cassidy Williams 19:10
Yeah, of course.

Tim Bourguignon 19:11
Um, how did it did it manifest itself when you felt? Okay, I went too far in this. Looking at every URL but too far on on with myself on the on the speaking side. Since humans you spoke 14 times in 14 days. How did you realize this is too much? I'm working myself.

Cassidy Williams 19:36
Yeah, I don't think I fully recognized that it was burnout until it happened until I was already burnt out. And now now I'm very good at seeing the warning signs and I'm just like, Oh, I need to step back. When when you're starting to burn out. You really just start to not care about your job anymore, or not care about what you're doing anymore. You're just like, whatever, it's going to suck anyway. That's, that's a very Surefire Sign whenever I'm talking to friends of mine, relatives of mine, where, where they like their job, and then suddenly after a certain point, they're just like, I don't like this anymore. I'm just kind of, I'm in it for the money. Who cares? None of the stuff that I do matters. I'm on the hook for this. Of course I am. That kind of attitude. That is a very early sign of burnout. And that's something that whenever I see it happening, I immediately I'm just like, Okay, I know that what you're feeling is not great right now, I have been there. But also you need to realize what this is. This means that you've pushed yourself too much in some way or another. And sometimes it's developers who just don't take vacations. That happens really often where you need to tell someone, okay, you need to take a vacation. The team will survive without you. Oftentimes, we are not saving lives by just coding an application and making it scale better. You need to take some time off. The sometimes it's because someone has spoken too much. Sometimes it's because it's someone feels like the weight of the team is on their shoulders when really it isn't. There. There's there's all kinds of different attitudes and behaviors that can lead to burnout. And that feeling manifests itself in many different ways. Depending on who you are. For myself, I just, I couldn't fathom being around people. I just remember thinking, all I want to do is be under a blanket and not talk to anybody. And I remember I hung out with some friends too, after all of my public speaking. And that day, it was supposed to be such a fun day, we went to a museum together, we went out to eat together all this stuff. And I just remember being miserable the entire time being like, I don't want to be around people, why am I around people? But why am I doing this? And I ended up leaving and flying off to visit my grandpa in Florida. And I was just like, I'm just not going to talk to people for a while. And and I just would cry at night thinking I'm gonna have to go back to that place where I feel miserable. And it was it was just a really Really, really empty feeling of not being motivated to do anything not wanting to do or be around anybody wanting to do things, it was just, it was a terrible feeling. But then after giving myself a break after giving myself that we go on vacation, and then slowly ramping up and kind of being careful to say yes to things, I was fine again. And that's, that's one of the things you have to tell yourself, like when you're burning out, you need to take that time way away, so that way you can be fine again, so that way you can suddenly be willing to talk to friends again and be around people again. There were certain people were when they saw me when I was burning out, they're just like, Oh, dang, are you okay? And I wasn't really nice to them. And then when I came back, all I could do was apologize and say, I burnt out hard and I took it out on you and I'm sorry. And that's that's all. That's all you can really do. burnout is really rough, and I wouldn't wait Wish it on anyone and really be aware of the warning signs of it because you never know when when it'll strike.

Tim Bourguignon 23:07
Thank you very deep thing. This is in no way, in no way at the same level but now I've been I've been on the on the parental leave for the past two months and have one one month ago, the German system is great. And I was talking to a coworker a couple days ago, and she was telling me about everything that happened to the company you never seen. And I realized how far I was from everything. And just I just completely let go in this. And that was the feel so great.

Cassidy Williams 23:39
Yeah, learn go on and also parental leave as a whole full time job in itself. So So also congratulations. But, ya know, it's you have to be willing to disconnect even just for a little bit and reset. Even even some folks I know at work right now. They said okay, I think need a vacation and luckily Our team is really encouraging and they said you know you are going to take about a week. Why don't you take 10 days just take this time off and separate yourself from work and and they've already messaged us since starting this vacation saying thank you so much for forcing me to take more time this is changed everything and vacation is meant to do that you have to take that break because the we live in a world we live in an industry where everyone is very much work work work a lot, and especially in the United States I've heard Europe is lovely for this kind of thing and much much more generous with the with the vacation time and stuff and paid holidays but it's it's an industry that very much encourages overworking whether they realize it or not. And so really prioritizing that work life balance and taking the time off is necessary to maintain your happiness and maintain your career and maintain your sanity. At times, amen.

Tim Bourguignon 25:01
Yeah, definitely. You mentioned you've been a team leader or maybe a manager, an engineering manager. And it wasn't a decision from you to try this, or did it just happen? How did it came to be?

Cassidy Williams 25:16
Yeah, that was that was something I wanted to try that I've, I've done engineering management twice now. And it was something that I did in addition to my engineering role, which again, I'm not good at saying no, and I take on too much, but it's fine. It was, it was something that I wanted to try. And my most recent experience was two years ago, two or three years ago, and I was managing a team of six engineers, and I really enjoyed it. It's it's that kind of teaching aspect that I told you about. And I love being able to help people get places whether it's through education or some other means, and I am very much of the mindset that an engineering manager it's, it's not because they're the most technical person on the team. They might be the There, they just have a different role to help you at the company. And that was that was a really great mindset that I got once I became an engineering manager because some of the people that I was managing, they were older than me, or they did have more years of experience than I did. But I was able to get them connected with resources at the company, I was able to say, Oh, you wanted to improve your iOS development skills, let me get budget for you. So that way you can take a class, and I was able to provide resources from a different angle of the company and figure out how I can make their careers better. And I really enjoyed it. I definitely like coding a lot. And so that's why I haven't taken on a lot of management roles since. But I've done more tech lead roles where it's kind of like the technical side of engineering management where you're more managing the project than the than the people itself. And I do like that aspect of it. And that was something that I wanted to try and I've learned, I do like it, maybe not right Now but someday I'd like to try that again,

Tim Bourguignon 27:03
this this phase, translate into your What did you take from this, from this experience as a manager that you can apply today as not being a manager, but still part of a team,

Cassidy Williams 27:14
being an engineering manager taught me a lot of empathy for leadership. Honestly, that was a very, very big takeaway, because when you when you are first starting out, and you're an engineer, you're just like, I just want to code and management is getting in my way, or management is my boss, and I kind of just have to listen to what they have to say, and stuff. And luckily, I've had some good managers along the way, some some not so great, some awesome and I've being actually in that role. It's helped me to understand the difference between the roles a little bit more again, understanding that it's not just because they are better than me more experienced than me and stuff, although that is sometimes the case but also that they just have a different roles that they've taken on for the team. And it's a role that is really necessary and really useful and one that you should use there. There are so many different aspects of a company that I never fully understood until I got later in my career when I first was at Venmo. At my first job out of school, I was just like, I want to be the VP of engineering now. And I remember, I was just like, there's an opening, I could totally do that. What What experience do I need to get to that point? And I remember, there were there were some older engineering managers who are just like, how old are you again? Okay, you need to learn something kids like they were they were harsh. And at the time, I was so insulted. And now I'm kind of just like, they were definitely right. They might not have said it in the nicest way, but they were definitely right there. There are a lot of different aspects of a company that I didn't fully understand going into things. I was kind of just like anybody can be anything You should always try to strive to climb the ladder and be at the top and and be CEO one day be CTO one day. That's what you have to do. And what I've realized in being a manager leading different projects, leading whole departments at different companies and stuff, I've realized that there are so many different roles that are necessary in a company that it doesn't necessarily involve delegating leadership and saying, Okay, tell me your reports. And I will make a report based on what you report. Like, I never want to be someone like a Jeff Bezos, where there's just tons and tons of thousands of people reporting to me when I was younger, I thought that's what I was supposed to want. And now I've realized I would much rather be hands on with people and help them get to higher points in their careers if they want to be a CEO. Great. Let me figure out how to help them be a CEO if they want to be a tech lead. Great. Let me help. help them improve their technical skills so they can get to that point. I like that aspect of tech a lot more. And that doesn't mean I have to be a VP of engineering to do it. That doesn't mean I have to be a CEO to do it. And that's that's probably the biggest takeaway I learned from taking on all these different roles. And understanding how companies work

Tim Bourguignon 30:21
being in deveraux seems to be a perfect place to be able to help people.

Cassidy Williams 30:25
Yeah, it really is. It's it's a role that I took on early thought it was great experimented around and have come back to it and realize this is this is the kind of stuff that I really love to do.

Tim Bourguignon 30:36
So I wouldn't question it. Since we're, we're back on the on the deverill. Train, how would you, would you would you describe a good deveraux engineer?

Cassidy Williams 30:46
Oh, this is such a good question. Because there are so many answers to it. We literally had a meeting last week as a team saying what makes a good dev role, even though all of us have multiple years of experience in dev REL because it's something that We constantly have to talk about and kind of reframe our mind and re understand why we do what we do. And I think a devrel person is someone who doesn't have an ego, which that's, that's something that you see in the tech industry a lot. But you have to be someone who you're you're not like, Oh, I know everything and I will teach you plebs and I will make sure that you know what I know, because I'm awesome. That attitude, it might get you some like cool kid points with certain people, but that doesn't last that doesn't make for a good deverill a devrel person is someone who is very humble and willing to constantly be learning because they have to figure out how to build an integration of technologies with this and this and this and and build partnerships and stuff and also reframe how to explain certain things for people who learn differently. There. There's a lot of different aspects of devrel where it's, it's a lot of very rapid learning, rapid building, and there's a lot of just Communication, you need to have empathy for a lot of different groups of people, because you never know who you'll be teaching. And so you're going to have to be able to answer questions from people who are from completely different backgrounds, different countries, different cultures, different age groups, there's, there's so many different things that you have to work with all the time, which is fun. It's very, very fun. But it can also be very challenging. And so being willing to be someone who doesn't have too much of an ego is willing to kind of get their hands dirty, figuring out how to explain something, how to build something, how to explain something written down, and then bring that back to the product team. How do we want to gather feedback how to be one to build on that feedback. There's someone who makes for a good advocate is someone who has empathy has a low ego can communicate well, and also who can code the barcoding aspect. It's it's still very important and it's Something that you have to be willing to flex your coding muscles in ways that you wouldn't normally get to flex them. I wouldn't say it's smaller muscles or anything from a, quote unquote, regular product engineer, it's different muscles. And you you're flexing a different part of your technical brain because you have to be very agile as you're building out certain different things.

Tim Bourguignon 33:26
Yeah, that makes sense. And I want to flip the coin on its head. Looking from the, from the company side. And let's, let's assume we are, let's not assume listicle netlify that if I see you say, okay, we need to build a developer experience. team, and we need to invest. I don't know three, four or five. I don't know how many people we six, so the only the only number I didn't Yeah, I was so close. So We need you to have a big team of six persons. And how do you do you look back on what you did and say, yeah, that was that was worth having six and dx on our team. I mean, it's not it's not like you're often going to create, create partnerships, I think you probably have a sales team doing this. You cannot be measured by the amount of licenses you sell. It's it's squishy stuff. But it's so important, but it's completely squishy. Right?

Cassidy Williams 34:38
It's very squishy. And that's this is like the question that every single business every single investor, every single team has, how do we measure that our devrel team is actually doing a good job. And we have a few different metrics and a lot of times the metrics aren't necessarily things that The metrics aren't things that are just numbers, we we set goals for ourselves that are sometimes qualitative, sometimes quantitative, and for our team. Specifically, we have our individual metrics that we set for ourselves. For example, I want to write X number of blog posts a month, I want to post X number of videos per month, I want to, I don't know get X number of signups per month based on the content that I produce that sort of thing. And overall, our team's goal is to get good feedback from the developer community and help them out aid to the Support Team A the sales team, a the marketing team in in various different ways, but improve developer experience. And again, it's so squishy, it's so it's so hard to define, but part of developer experience, for example, is making sure that certain features are built in the right way. And so one person on our team, she's on a product team rotation right now, where she's helping build out a new feature at nullify in a way that will be easy to explain to developers. And so she's doing straight engineering work right now, which will, in turn eventually affect us as a whole team as we're explaining things properly to external developers. There are some times where one of one of my teammates For example, She recently led an effort to build out a new feature. And she was kind of like the tech lead person in charge of making sure the engineers implemented it. And we had a certain number of blog posts ready to post when it went live. She made sure that all of the demos were ready. So we when the feature went live, there were demos that people could work with and stuff and it was more of a tech lead kind of role. And that was one of her goals to lead projects. One of my teammates, he loves live streaming and his goal is to get a certain number of people watching his stream every single time a certain number of people building with him along in his stream every single time. There's there's a lot of different goals which every single One of these, it's very squishy, just like what you said, were the one of my teammates. She is awesome at Angular. And Angular is something that we have a lot of customers for. But there aren't a lot of resources for Angular, she's been doing a lot of work that might not necessarily be seen, but making sure that certain frameworks work well with Angular and certain blog posts are written about Angular, where, right away, it might be just kind of on the ground, hands on work, but it pays off in dividends, maybe five or six months later, when there's a plethora of resources and tons of enterprise customers are saying, Ah, this is exactly what we needed to know that we want to be a customer of yours. And so we we make efforts to improve developer experience in different ways we communicate it, we communicate about it with each other as a team and kind of say, okay, is this generally lined up with what we think is a good route? Great, let's let's roll with it. And and I think that team dynamic and kind of leaning into people's specialties and strengths, while also trying to flex our own individual muscles and grow, while also going towards a common goal of improving developer experience. It ends up being very effective, hard to measure, but very effective.

Tim Bourguignon 38:19
It sounds like fun, like you said, difficult experience is a pretty new field. I mean, it's booming right now or St. Louis and seeing more and more diverse, never about I agree. It's kind of early still. Where do you see going in the next maybe 10 years, this part of the year of the industry as a whole?

Cassidy Williams 38:40
So very, very good question. One of the things that I am particularly happy about netlify steam, I'm promise I'm not trying to be a sales pitch for an alpha. One thing that I like about it that I think is a very big step in the right direction is that we are our own department. We are the developer experience department and At the exact same level as the marketing department exact same level as the engineering department, because typically, roles where I've been with in the past, and in teams I've seen, Deborah will fall under marketing. And they end up just being the engineers and marketing that do whatever marketing tells them, or they fall under engineering. And they end up being the marketers on the engineering team, where they just kind of do whatever engineering tells them and talks about it. But here at netlify, and I've seen it on a couple other companies too. But you know, speaking from my experience, Here at netlify, we our own department that sets our own goals towards developer experience, and we don't pay attention to sales numbers, because that's not the role of our the role of our department. And we don't pay attention to how many tickets we close in a certain week, because that's part of the engineering department and not ours, because our goals are specifically developer experience. I think we're a lot more effective. And so that's kind of where I see it going, where it's no longer going to be this weird thing and Or this weird thing in engineering is going to be its own weird thing. But when it is its own thing, goals can be more attainable and more effectively reached because they're more clearly defined early on.

Tim Bourguignon 40:15
makes her lots of sense. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Before we call it a for today, what's the whole first about the making of mechanical keyboards?

Cassidy Williams 40:24
Oh, I you shouldn't ask me about keyboards this show. We're gonna you're here for a long time. Oh, I love I love building keyboards. I think it is such a fun time. This is something that I was always interested in. But when I was living in New York City, I just didn't have the space for her really, or that or the time because I was taking on too much. But when I moved to Seattle, oh, there is a whole community here of people who love mechanical keyboards and I dove right in and we have a mechanical keyboard meetup here in Seattle where sadly because of pandemic, it's It's not happening this year, but it will. Where people, hundreds of people, we had almost 400 people come where they just bring their keyboards and you can play with them. And you can be like, Oh, I like those switches or Oh, these keycaps look great, or, oh, you built it with this. How do you do that? And we have technical talks where people talk about stenography or the anatomy of a keyboard switch, where advances in how plastic molds are made for certain key caps. It's so fun. It's kind of like one step up from Legos for me where I'm still getting to build something physical, but it's something that I get to use at my keyboard at my computer every single day. And it's so fun. Oh my gosh, I'm looking at my keyboards right now as I talk, I have 1-234-567-8910 1112 1314 next to me right now, and I love them there. They all are things that I built with my two hands and sometimes I built them alongside my husband and we have we have stories with each of them. The one that I'm typing right now that He says one that my friends got me in Singapore because it wasn't available in the United States. And so I'm able to type on this thing that is it's so fun and it's so rare the one that's right next to me this one is a board that I actually got the case for it in Korea because I went to go visit my in laws out there in Korea, and I was able to nab this cool board that's not available here and I put some Spanish key caps on it, because I love Spain, and I was able to put that together with some cool gaming switches so I can play fortnight with it. This other board I'm looking at, I have vim key caps on it and it has kind of a coding aesthetic to it. And soldering this board was such a pain in the butt. But it's so satisfying now to type on it because I'm like, even though it was terrible building this, it's so much fun to finally use it and this other one I'm looking at has so many macros built into it. I can just use it to run anything that my keywords they all kind of have their own stories, and they were also just so fun to build and now I get to use them and they're put to good use. Oh, I love building keyboard It's so fun.

Tim Bourguignon 43:01
Definitely hearing the joy through your voice. That is really cool. Thank you very much. If you had one advice to give to people wanting to go into the into dev REL or into their work experience, what do we need the the the single advice you would like to give?

Cassidy Williams 43:20
I'd say my best advice would be to learn in public. I a lot of devils the are a lot of people think that if you are endeavor, all you have to, you have to be some kind of famous person, you have to be someone who is constantly on Twitter constantly showing off your code. And that's not necessarily true. That being said, to be to be a good devrel is someone who's someone willing to learn a lot and sometimes it's challenging and sometimes it's really just fun. And being willing to learn in public, whether it's just writing a blog that you don't necessarily share with others. You just have a blog where you say okay, today I learned to this, it didn't go well, but I learned it. Whether you share that on YouTube on a blog on Twitter I don't know discord, something like that, where you're just constantly sharing what you're learning that shows that you can learn publicly that you're not you're willing to be vulnerable as people and communicate what what you've learned and communicate well and build those communicate muscles, communication muscles, but it also shows that you're willing to teach people because they can learn from what you've learned. That also shows that you have technical chops because you are building these technical skills and you could be just like, okay, based on all this stuff that I learned, I built this, and I think learning in public is probably the best way to get into devrel. And, and if you don't like the spotlight, that's that's totally fine. But you do have to figure out how to show employers how you can communicate well, how you can learn well and how you can Teach well, because that's that's the, that's the cherry on top of being technical for several people.

Tim Bourguignon 45:06
And where should I send the listeners? If they want to see where you are, or what you're doing in public and learning in public?

Cassidy Williams 45:14
Oh, you know, if you look up kassa do ca SS ID Oh, you'll find me. Cassidy Williams is my name. There was a Scooby Doo character named Cassidy Williams, though. So if you google me, it's either me or the Scooby Doo character. Not the Scooby Doo character. But if you look at you, yeah, if you look up Cassidy, that's my handle on Twitter, on GitHub, on code pen on LinkedIn, all these different things. And so that's that's where you can find me. I also have a newsletter, and my website is Cassady CO and then if you do slash newsletter, you'll find it and that, I'll send you an email every week. And it has an interview question of the week. It has some web links, and it also has a joke in there too. So that's where you can find me

Tim Bourguignon 45:55
and your silly videos as well.

Cassidy Williams 45:56
Oh, of course that, that's always on Twitter. He'll find me That's, it's on Tick tock, tick tock two because I filmed them on Tick tock, but Twitter is where I post them. And that's where I'm active.

Tim Bourguignon 46:08
We didn't have time to speak about it, but people just go on Twitter and look at it. They're hilarious.

Cassidy Williams 46:14
You're doing a great job. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Tim Bourguignon 46:18
Anything on your plate you want to plug in for the next month or the coming weeks or

Cassidy Williams 46:22
so? Well, I am working on an online course for react that's going to be on scribus soon. And I'm a little bit more than halfway done. I've got to record the last bit of it. So keep an eye out for a scrim, of course for me on react. And then also, again, my newsletter, I love that thing. And it's all just content that I want to put out there and offer to people and so check out check out my newsletter, check out my scuba course and say hi on Twitter.

Tim Bourguignon 46:50
Do people see? Thank you very much.

Cassidy Williams 46:54
Yeah, it was so great talking to you. Thank you.

Tim Bourguignon 46:56
Likewise, and this has been another episode of temporary and we each other next week. Bye Bye. Hi, this is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of those developer's journeys by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice, and get the new episodes automagically right when they air. The podcast is available on all major platforms. Then, visit our website to find the show notes with old links mentioned by our guests, the advices they gave us their book references and so. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests and with me, or reach out on Twitter, or LinkedIn. And a big, big thanks to the generous Patreon donors that helps me pay the hosting bills. If you can spare a few coins. Please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge, however small, counts. Finally, please do someone you love a favor and tell them about the shoe today and help them on their journey.