Episode 74 – What Matters Is Who Knows You with Emily Freeman

 In Podcasts

Welcome to the I.T. Career Energizer Podcast. In this episode, your host Phil Burgess interviews curator of JavaScript January, vice president of developer relations and product marketing for Kickbox and developer advocate Emily Freeman.

After many years of ghost-writing Emily made the choice to switch careers to software engineering. Learn more about her journey in this episode.


KEY TAKEAWAYS from Phil Burgess

(05.53) It’s all about branding and positioning and it’s similar to brand/self-marketing

(08:16) There’s a lot to be said for the changes in the way I.T. is delivered these days, unfortunately some corporates still follow a traditional waterfall approach, handing the process off to a series of individuals, resulting in friction and communication failure.

(13.14) The reveal round: Phil asks Emily some quick-fire questions. Q1. Phil: What first attracted you to a career in I.T.? Emily: The problems and the ability to think abstractly, I love the idea of being a tenacious problem solver. Q2. Phil: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Emily: To be you; when you are your authentic self, you are your best self.

Q3. Phil: If you were to begin your I.T. career again right now what would you do? Emily: I would rewind back to school and learn more about ‘true computer science’. You can learn the CS fundamentals in a fun way.

Q4. Phil: What career objectives are you currently focusing on? Emily: Growth and moving towards the next challenge. My biggest objective would be to solve increasingly bigger problems.

Q5: Phil: What’s the number one non-technical skills that’s helped you in your I.T. career so far? Emily: Absolutely my writing, I put so much practice into writing and it’s really helped. The best writing is conversational, authentic and written the way you speak. Q6. Phil: Can you share a parting piece of advice with the audience? Emily: What I tell everyone is, if you have to choose between becoming better at something or promoting yourself, I would choose promoting yourself. You don’t have a lot of time and the people that are ‘experts’ aren’t the most technical, they’re just the most visible.

KEY TAKEAWAYS from Emily Freeman

(01.06) Phil asks Emily to tell us a little bit more about herself. Emily welcomes the audience and shares in more detail her career story. Emily found a career in ghostwriting and runs a freelance copywriting business called EditingEmily (@EditingEmily). After moving into engineering her background in writing has been significantly helpful, and now Emily has been an individual contributor in Java and is currently a ‘Developer Advocate’.

(02.34) Phil responds to Emily’s career background, asking her to explain what her role as a ‘Developer Advocate’ is? Emily replies, by stating that the role is relatively new to the industry and that it involves getting intelligent developer users to use API’s. It’s a mix between engineering and marketing and it can be described as the connection between engineering, marketing and product to ensure the wishes of the community are communicated to the company. Emily summarizes by saying “It’s a very interesting role and no two days are the same”

(04.41) Phil asks Emily to share a unique career tip, that the audience might not know and should? Emily responds quickly to say that “It doesn’t matter who you know, it matters who knows you”. Emily recalls a previous life lesson that explains that you can blend your professional and personal life together, to help your career move forward. And when an opportunity comes up, you want to be the name that pops into someone’s head. Emily goes on to say that by acknowledging self-promotion and personal branding we can highlight what we do well.

(06:38) Phil asks Emily to tell us what her worst career I.T. moment was and what she learnt from the experience. Emily replies to say that in her first job as a developer, it was like an accelerator into finding out everything that was wrong in the industry. The setup of the engineering department was very old school and the developers didn’t have production access etc. That set up creates a great deal of personal conflict.

(11.20) Phil asks Emily to explain what she is most excited about in the I.T. industry. Emily passionately responds to say that our technology is evolving so much faster than our brains. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now is that we’re human. It’s our fear, our patterns of behavior, our brain functions and our limitations because of that. As a result I.T. is an exciting area that is overcoming this, removing the decision process errors and choice ability so that people can do what they do best, and engineer.

BEST MOMENTS – Emily states that her writing background has significantly helped her in her engineering career. – The aim of the Developer Advocate role is to speak marketing to engineering and vice versa, because a lot of the time these two things miss each other. – I feel uniquely blessed that I can talk at conferences and be a voice of the industry



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