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Cool Projects, Challenging Tasks, and a Supportive Team: Our First Year as Developer Advocates

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(3 min read) With Thato Tshetlhanyane and Kefentse Mathibe

The IBM Developer Advocacy is a graduate program that hones tech professionals to educate developers about a specific technology and grow a community of researchers, students, educators, and coders on the path toward achieving a unique advantage. In this program, Developer Advocates become part of a collaborative community where they share knowledge and support one another in everyday challenges. Together they connect via forums, blogs, social media and start-ups to empower one another to put smart to work. They present at meetups and conferences and help run hackathons and mentor at events that IBM is involved in.

To know more about this program, we talked to Thato and Kefentse, two Developer Advocates based in South Africa who are part of the Cloud Developer Advocacy Graduate Program.

Firstly, please tell us what exactly does an IBM Developer Advocate do?

Thato: As Developer Advocates for the Cloud Developer Advocacy Graduate Program we help developers become superheroes in the work that they do by using IBM Cloud solutions. Our goal in this role is to gain the trust and respect of the developer community both internally and externally. Personally, this career path is for individuals who enjoy exploring with technology and educating people how to use it.

Can you share with us more about the projects you have worked on?

Kefentse: I’ve worked on quite a few really cool and challenging projects in the past year. I’ve had the opportunity to host a three-day Hackathon for enterprise developers by turning their ideas into innovative solutions; I’ve also installed and worked on the app modernization for one of the biggest banks in South Africa; created a demo for the technical sales team to demo for telecommunication clients; and developed a visual recognition application that connected to a mobile device (Android and IOs) on Watson visual recognition. On top of these, I’ve also helped a start-up move their solution to IBM Cloud. and ran a hands-on workshop virtually and face-to-face for developers and university students.

What have you learned and gained from your experiences as Developer Advocates?

Thato: I joined the Cloud Developer Advocacy program a year ago and I can definitely say that I have learned a lot and gained skills I never thought I would in a space of a year. I’ve learned a lot about Cloud computing and many other technologies. One of the many things as a developer advocate is to present at start-ups, and through this I’ve gained confidence in presenting to crowds.

Kefentse: That one can never gain enough skills nor stop learning new things. I’m still learning and growing my skills and knowledge. While working on the projects I’ve been assigned, I’ve gained programming skills, e.g., Java, mobile development, web development, node.js, data science (Jupiter notebook, spark, Hadoop, python) and more!

In just a year, I’ve gained over 30 badges and certificates of IBM technology that I studied at my own pace on IBM’s free online learning platform. I’ve also improved on my presentation skills and gained agile and design thinking skills, plus learned management skills by leading a team!

How has IBM helped you develop professionally?

Thato: I was fortunate to join a team of multi-talented individuals. Upon our arrival we had two developer advocates from the previous team and they set expectations and they were very open in mentoring us and developing our skills.

Kefentse: I joined the team quite late and that was quite the challenge. I didn’t know some of the things but my manager and awesome team made it easy for me to adjust and learn quickly. The team consists of different skills and that made it easy for us to work together and bring something to the table, and it opened a platform for everyone to learn from one another.

What we enjoy the most about our manager is that we have regular career conversations and that has made it easy for her to assign us learning to do, and mentors we can work with to grow in our careers and gain as much exposure.

We joined IBM as graduates and now we’re proud Cloud Application Developers and proud IBMers. Launching our careers at IBM has opened us up to various opportunities and it has certainly taught us to THINK big and to see IBM as a world of endless possibilities.

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