Karen Bajza on How to Succeed at Developer Evangelism

Curious to break into developer evangelism? You don’t have to have a background in computer science to do so. Karen Bajza, a community manager at Docker, a Mobilize customer, transitioned into tech after working in nonprofit development.

We interviewed Karen to learn more about what it takes to manage a community of developers, how she stays organized, and what advice she has for community managers looking to work in tech, too.

Mobilize: Can you tell us more about your background and how you found yourself in the world of developer evangelism?

Karen: Previous to Docker, I worked in nonprofit development down in LA for four years. When my partner and I decided to move back to the Bay Area, I decided on a career pivot and knew I wanted it to be in tech. Through a series of attending meetups and coffee chats, I landed my current role on the community marketing team and into the world of developer evangelism.

Mobilize: How are developer communities different from other communities like nonprofits and brand ambassadors?

Karen: I actually think there are several similarities between our developer community and nonprofits. Our developer community is super passionate about the technology and they want to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with their community. Same goes for nonprofits except instead of a technology to rally around, it's a cause. Same passion and same enthusiasm for education and connection.

Mobilize: What’s an average day like for you at Docker?

Karen: While my average day at Docker changes quite drastically quarter to quarter, a few tasks and responsibilities stay the same. A large part of my role is communicating with our organizers to make sure they have the resources they need. I spend a good part of my day talking to them through email, Slack, Zoom, you name it.

Mobilize: What challenges do you face to keep the community engaged? How do you overcome those challenges?

Karen: Because our technology is changing so quickly, it's a challenging to make sure our organizers have the latest materials and content to give talks and plan meetups. We overcome this by finding and knowing the best way of reaching everyone which usually includes a combination of individual emails, Slack and messages through Mobilize.

Mobilize: How do you stay organized as a Developer Community Manager?

Karen: To stay organized, I do three things. I'm a huge planner. I take notes and write out daily to-do lists (by hand!), set future reminders on my calendar, and rely heavily on our program timeline docs and launch plans. Taking notes by hand helps the most because it forces me to slow down and really process what I'm writing down. It's easy to mindlessly type, it's not so easy to mindlessly write. I love to-do lists because I'm completely satisfied with checking the boxes.

Mobilize: What advice do you have to other community managers who are new to the developer space?

Karen: Don't underestimate taking time to learn the culture. Do some investigating! Talk to as many people as you can, ask as many questions as you can. Set up calls with super users and active organizers, attend meetups. Really learn what makes your community tick, learn the challenges they have, their motivations and what you can do better.

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