Elastic is the leading platform for search-powered solutions, and they help everyone—organizations, their employees, and their customers—find what they need faster, while keeping applications running smoothly, and protecting against cyber threats.
Alexis Roberson is a Developer Advocate at Elastic, where she helps to demystify coding and tackle complex problems. Campus Philly got the chance to catch up with Alexis to hear more about her experience using technology to advocate for inclusivity, how she translated her experience in college to the workforce, and everything you need to know to land the role that fits you.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk with us! Tell us about yourself: Share a little about your story—where did you go to college, what did you study? What are some of your favorite things to do?
I’m originally from Dallas, TX, and attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, where I studied Computer Science. Upon graduating, I relocated to Philadelphia for my first job as an Engineer at Comcast on the product development team.
Tell us about your current job. How did you find and land the role?
I currently work as a Developer Advocate, where my goal is to become a trusted voice in the tech community while being an active participant. I accomplish this by writing code samples and demos, as well as blog posts.
I also do this by submitting technical talks for conferences and meetups, and answering community member questions on our public Slack and Discuss channels.
I found this role after completing a product management accelerator program. A friend of mine told me about Developer Advocacy and thought I would be a great fit and encouraged me to apply. I applied for the Developer Advocate position at Elastic and completed four interviews before receiving the official offer.
Tell us more about your day-to-day life on the job.
Since my priorities include writing blog posts, submitting technical talks, and replying to messages on our public slack, I like to use Mondays to update my tasks excel sheet. I define 2-3 big deliverables—like finalizing a blog post topic or research for a blog post—which would include creating a working demo.
The deliverable might also be preparing for a local meetup talk that week. I’ll spend time finalizing the presentation slides, ensuring the demo is working properly, and then leave time to practice.
My company offers technology that can be used by other developers and businesses, and requires a bit of learning to get started. Developers and community members are able to post questions about anything regarding our products, and we provide answers or guidance.
So the goal for each week is to spend a minimum of five hours per week replying to Slack messages on our public slack. I spent the first part of the year focusing on giving talks at meetups and have recently, within the last few months, shifted to focusing more on conference talks.
In order to reach this goal, I also research conferences that fit my focus area and possible topics that can become good talking points. Everyday and every week might look different, but I’m always guided by these deliverables. I also have weekly and bi-weekly meetings with my team and I work with our program manager to plan meetups and discuss potential conference sponsorships.
If I have time left, I try to maintain an active presence on Twitter and LinkedIn in order to create greater awareness around product updates and new features.
Any advice on working remotely?
Create a realistic schedule. Track daily tasks in progress in an Excel Sheet. Change your work environment if you’re starting to become distracted. Use the pomodoro method with timers to work on tasks you’re not super excited about working on.
What are some key takeaways or lessons you learned throughout your role?
You have to advocate for yourself and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s a role that is naturally ambiguous and understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you pinpoint focus areas a lot sooner.
How did your education, courses, and clubs prepare you for this position?
In college, I gravitated towards teaching opportunities because I enjoyed being a part of the learning process for others. I worked as a teaching assistant for one of my CS courses, as well as for GirlsWhoCode. I also had an interest in doing more community work and applied for a grant through the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), where I received a grant to teach a six-week coding camp for middle school students in the Atlanta area.
In my current position, I realized influencing others starts with a love for learning and the ability to explain complex topics in simple ways. So teaching experiences in undergrad have definitely aided in preparing me for success as a Developer Advocate. Although I majored in Computer Science, I attended a liberal arts college.
I appreciated the education I received because it taught me to think about world problems and even technical problems from a holistic perspective. Working in developer relations requires this type of mindset because if you’re able to add a new perspective to the same problem, you can certainly add value to the community you serve and people will continue to listen to what you have to say.
Do you have any advice for college students or recent grads looking to expand their professional network in the Greater Philadelphia Region?
Invest in creating an approachable Linkedin profile. Resumes are great, but LinkedIn allows recruiters to get a deeper understanding of who you are and how you might be a good fit for the position. Build a sample project or portfolio and document your progress in LinkedIn posts or on YouTube. Reach out to individuals who are already in the position or industry you’re interested in, and instead of asking them for a favor, seek to make a genuine connection. Follow up and comment on things that inspire you about the content they post or the impact you believe they’re making on the industry.
What’s some advice you’d give a student seeking a job at your organization this fall?
Take a look at our website and core values. Think of ways you’ve demonstrated those values in your own life or at school. Complete as many mock interviews as you can, whether it’s a technical or non-technical role. The interview process really depends on the role you’re applying to as well as the team, so talk with the recruiter and find out as much as you can about the position and how you can prepare. Give yourself enough time to prepare for the interview even if this means scheduling the interview a few weeks or a month out!