From Student Hacker to First DevRel Job

Aditya joined Google, Microsoft, and MLH student programs before his first job at Appwrite.

Aditya Oberai

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Aditya Oberai

Developer Advocate


Dehradun (India)

Key takeaways

  • Volunteering in tech communities gave Aditya a foundation in enabling people with technology
  • Student programs at Microsoft, Google, and MLH gave him access to DevRel practitioners
  • Aditya argues there’s no rush to get into DevRel. Instead, take time to find the aspect of DevRel you love most.

Aditya’s video

What you were doing before DevRel?

I was a full-time student pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Amity University, Noida in India.

I spent over two years volunteering in communities and working for five months as a Community Intern and two months as a User Research Intern at Progate, two months as a Software Developer Intern at Techdome Solutions, and about one year as a Major League Hacking Coach before I started working part-time at Appwrite during my senior year.

Why you started to consider a career in DevRel

My experience volunteering in tech communities, contributing as both a developer and organizer at hackathons and working through various internships helped me realise that I wanted to work in a space that allowed me to enable more and more people with technology that I believed in. DevRel provided me with the perfect balance.

What things did you think about DevRel that you now know are wrong?

I believe there was a time when I felt that there had to be a hard separation between supporting a community and enabling business growth. Having worked now for a little over a year in DevRel, I recognize this isn’t the case and that it’s possible to achieve a cycle where you support your community, and they support your business in an ethical manner.

What things did you think about DevRel that turned out to be right?

I am glad I was made aware of the importance of being a technologist as a Developer Advocate very early on. At the end of the day, as DevRel practitioners, we cater to developers and technologists and if we cannot build with our products and look beneath the surface, we will never be able to build a sense of empathy for our audience and community.

How did you start to learn about DevRel?

As a sophomore, I joined the Microsoft Student Partners program (now known as the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors) in 2019. This program allowed me to access a large group of mentors from Microsoft’s Cloud Advocacy team. This provided me with the opportunity to learn from active DevRel practitioners as well as network with various motivated DevRel aspirants at a very early stage.

Were there any individuals or communities that influenced your DevRel journey?

I have had the fortune of finding some incredible mentors throughout my journey in tech communities towards DevRel. Shun Uno and Ankita Mishra are genuinely kind-hearted and amazing and I always loved working with them to support Progate’s community as an intern.

Yashraj Nayak, Paras Pundir, and Vivek Sridhar have been amazing mentors who helped me better understand and navigate the community space professionally in India as well as personally support and guide me whenever I’ve felt lost. Santosh Yadav is an open-source advocate who I look up to a lot, not just because of his technical abilities but his humility and dedication to his craft.

And I definitely highly appreciate our DevRel team here at Appwrite, especially Tessa Mero, our Head of DevRel, and Eldad Fux, our Founder, for being constant pillars of support and wonderful leaders.

How did you find out about DevRel job opportunities?

I personally used Twitter, LinkedIn, and Angellist a lot during my job hunt and happened to get opportunities and leads from all three platforms.

How did you learn about the job that you ended up getting?

I used to follow a DevRel job board on Twitter called @DevRel_Jobs quite actively at a time. One fine day, they shared about a DevRel Engineer position at Appwrite, which caught my eye. I discovered the product from there, researched about it, applied for the role, and here we are!

How did you make yourself stand out from the crowd?

I honestly didn’t put too much thought there. I just went ahead, took initiative, put my head down, and worked hard. For every little achievement, there were failures, but that was a part of the process I was unafraid of. Time did its job, so by the time I was applying for my first DevRel job, I had a variety of experiences already.

How was the recruitment process?

After applying, I had to wait about a week or two. Then  I had three interviews. The first was an introductory call to get to know my experience, the second was a technical interview discussing some of my development knowledge as well as DevRel-related insights. The third was a one-on-one call with our founder.

I did not have to complete any tasks. There was, however, a technical questionnaire between my first and second interviews that I had to fill out. The questionnaire effectively had me self-rate my knowledge on various topics such as different programming languages, computer science fundamentals, cloud-relevant technologies, etc.

What was difficult about the recruitment process?

Honestly, I felt rather comfortable throughout due to the way our process went through. The second interview was the hardest because it took into account my opinions on various aspects of content, communities, and DevRel, and I was a little worried about it since this was my first such interview ever. The team, however, ensured I remained as calm and comfortable as possible, and I really had a great time throughout.

At no point through Appwrite’s interview process did I feel like another number or checkmark. The process felt very humanized in the sense that the team really did care about who I was beyond my vocational skills (for exampe, my founder and I spent 15 extra minutes talking about Manchester United during my second interview because we both love that club), and I really felt like I mattered throughout, which was wonderful!

How has your view of DevRel changed since you started working in it?

I’ve grown to appreciate a lot more the work DevRel teams have been doing all this while. While very fulfilling, it’s definitely not an easy job and I’m definitely a lot more grateful to all the folks who I’ve learnt from and worked with in the space.

What department was your first DevRel job in?

We have our own organization here that directly reports to the founder. When I joined Appwrite, I was the first DevRel team member, so it was particularly important for me to understand how Appwrite intended to leverage the team. I am definitely very appreciative of how my founder appreciates and respects our team and the impact we make at the company.

What one piece of advice would you give to DevRel hopefuls?

Truthfully, the decision on whether you want to start a career in Developer Relations isn’t one you need to rush. I spent two years volunteering in communities and worked for five months as a Community Intern, two months as a User Research Intern, and two months as a Software Developer Intern (aside from other contractual obligations) before I made up my mind to apply for my first Developer Relations role. These experiences, when combined, allowed me to understand my skills and experiences, which allowed me to develop my aspirations in this space.

The truth is that code, content, and community are vast spaces of their own; you can very well fall in love with any of these spaces individually and pursue your career there, or at least give yourself a chance to fail and move forward. As long as you spend time understanding the most suitable space for you to work in, you’ll be absolutely fine!