Greetings to my friends in the developer community - Buildkite Blog

Greetings to my friends in the developer community

I’m Mel 👋 I’m a shiny new Developer Advocate at Buildkite ✨ I’d like to introduce myself because I hope to catch you sometime soon.

If you are anything like me, these are the questions you're asking:

  • 🤔 why are you here?
  • 🤨 how did this all start?
  • 🧐 how is it all going? What's this role all about?

👆these are the questions of the moment!

Why I'm here

I'm at Buildkite because Buildkite loves their Users, and as engineers and systems thinkers ourselves, what you do is at the core of who we are as a company.

My mission is to:

  • 🤝 build and foster relationships within our user community
  • 💁‍♀️ understand the problems y'all are facing and connect you with possible solutions
  • 🗣 discover how you solved particular problems or uniquely use Buildkite and desseminate this treasure trove of information
  • 👩‍💻 work closely with our product engineering teams to ensure Buildkite continues to meet your needs

Like all great developer communities, we're all here to support and help each other to get things done.

That was the tl;dr.

If you're still with me, let's take a step back in time to revisit how I got involved with the tech community. To be honest it all seemed to happen by pure chance but in retrospect, of course everything always make sense!

How it all started

From a very early age being an artist was my calling, the career I single mindedly pursued, from Kindergarten to University. Computers weren’t a huge part of my life growing up (or so I thought) and only now I remember that time I copied hundreds of lines of Basic from the back of our family Amstrad manual to implement Pong (and even debugged that code). But because in the old days being a computer nerd wasn’t for girls - that little spark fizzled out as quickly as it had ignited.

I finished school, University, got my Bachelor Degree in Computer Mediated Art (hmmm..there’s that word again). During my years at art school, my work focused on retro Computers and Consoles, and how we as a society interacted with – and made meaning of – the Internet, and “Cyberspace” and the complexity of these new spaces (it was the 2000s and all MySpace really). Still it didn’t dawn on me that Computers were a "thing" for me. From there I worked as far away as I could from bits and bytes, in a record store, as a Tattoo Artist, an exploration into Art History, unsurprisingly none of these things scratched that itch for me, deep down I didn't know I wanted to create things and solve challenging problems in complex systems.

A while later I noticed a team in the corner of my office, a Software Team Building Cool Things™️, I set my sights on being a part of that team, I befriended the right people for long enough to transition from an admin support role into a Production Coordinator role. There I facilitated that team of developers building cool things, the creative problem solver in me was happier. A couple of years later as a Project Manager for a little software agency called Icelab I worked amongst some truly inspirational people who designed bespoke systems with human friendly interfaces in very short timeframes, it was a delightful place to be.

In a fate-like stroke of luck, Icelab hosted a RailsGirls event and I reluctantly signed up, thinking “I definitely don’t want to be a developer, I don't even like computers”. Something happened with that first git push heroku master 🚀🤯. It sounds far-fetched but stay with me...at that exact moment, a vast new world opened up before me, and I felt an excitement that was palpable!

If you grew up tinkering with computers, and maybe studied Computer Science or IT at University, this wonder is nothing new to you. But for me, it was new! I started meeting career changers who had come to software development from diverse backgrounds, and I began to wonder if this was possible for me too? As an organisation RailsGirls has helped many women find their way into Software Development via non-traditional pathways. That this event changed my life so profoundly is something I will never forget and always be thankful for 💖

Attending RubyConf in 2014, was another pivotal moment for me. I left that venue with hundreds of new friends, they were as talented as they were friendly and generous, I knew I’d found my place, and my people!

Since these early days, the Open Source community is an ecosystem I’ve flourished in, in a way I had never dreamed possible. I've held a position on the Ruby Australia commitee, volunteered to help run many events, co-organised two Ruby Conferences in Australia, I’ve spoken at meetups, I’ve mentored people who need help. Mostly, I've spent time enjoying making new friends (some who have become the best of friends). A result of the safety and trust I felt, and surprising myself, I travelled alone and fearlessly to Interstate and International events, always feeling immediately welcomed into these distant yet familiar communities, just like being surrounded by old friends. I'd never truly felt at home in myself until I found my place in the tech community and I want others to experience this sense of belonging. I’m driven to help share our collective knowledge, but also to build a safe, diverse and welcoming community that affords people that same safety I felt. Because without this generous community supporting me in my learning quest I wouldn’t be here at Buildkite today.

Fast forward 5 years, working as a Software Engineer was the best thing, everything I wanted it to be! I had autonomy, people trusted me to solve unique and complex problems. The fact I got paid to constantly solve new and exciting problems even though I really had no idea what I was doing had me asking myself daily “how lucky am I?”. The constant learning and the wonder at how much there is still to learn is a thirst that can’t be quenched - it’s slightly addictive and wholly satisfying.

And then came 2020 💥🌏💔

And along with everyone else I suddenly had a perspective on my life that I’d hadn’t had in 2019. Isolation forced me to consider what was really really important. Unsurprisingly it was people and the connections between them, and not just any people, but people like you and people like me. And as much as I loved being a software engineer, I craved more people time, and felt it was time to be focused outward rather than inward.

How it's going

And so here I am at Buildkite! It’s an incredible product, one I’ve been fortunate enough to have used for the past 4.5 years as a software engineer. It’s both delightful AND powerful, and anyone who uses the Buildkite pipelines loves it 💚

Just 4 weeks in, I've learnt there is so much enthusiasm amongst our users (it's not just me). You've collectively learned so many useful lessons and there is so much hunger from other users to hear your stories, my job is to bring these perspectives to light to help others in their quests.

As a developer community, we love to help others work better and smarter - and we can do that together, and I’m here to help foster that :)

I'd love to meet you so please say hello 👋


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