Fireside with Voxgig for Professional Speakers

Julia Furst Morgado

Published On:
Julia Furst Morgado
Podcast Host
Richard Roger
Voxgig Founder
Podcast Guest
Julia Furst Morgado

According to Julia Furst Morgado, if you work in DevRel, you need to be able to code. And Julia defends her position on this. How can you understand the product? How can you explain it? How can you create demos? While you might not need to be a software engineer, you do need an understanding of code and a willingness to keep learning and developing.

This theme of continuous learning comes out time and again in this Fireside with Voxgig podcast episode with Julia. Her ambition and work ethic is an inspiration – but they are also motivational as her efforts have paid off in her career and continue to reap results in her amazing ability to build communities.

A wonderful conversation and chance to listen to an honest discussion of DevRel as a career.


Reach out to Julia here on her LinkedIn.

See Show Transcripts

Interview Intro

Richard Rodger:  [0:00:00] Welcome to the Voxgig Podcast. We talk to people in the developer community about developer relations, public speaking and community events. For more details, visit All right, let's get started. 

There are many legitimate pathways into the developer relations role. Our guest today, Julia Furst Morgado, comes from a law and marketing background, but that doesn't mean she can't code. And in fact, her opinion is that you do need to be able to code to do the dev rel job properly. And when she decided to go down this career path, that's exactly what she did – learn to code. 

But of course, her time in marketing has stood her in good stead, and she knows how to build a community or two and generate an awful lot of followers in a very short space of time. We talk about all this and more. So, if you're thinking of getting into developer relations and you cannot yet code, you could do worse than follow the pathway that Julia has taken. [0:01:09]

Main Interview

Julia Furst Morgado

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:10] Julia, hello. How are you. Welcome to the Voxgig Podcast. It is great to have you on today. I'm so pleased you could join us, because you have a really interesting background. [0:01:21]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:01:22] Yes, hi, Richard. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I was really excited when you invited me to be on here, and I'm really excited as well to share more about my story, my journey, and hopefully inspire other people to become dev rels as well. [0:01:42]

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:44] Yeah, because it is a new career. I've had a few guests on the podcast where we talk about – we did dev rel stuff for the last 10 years but we didn't have a name for it. And now there's a name and it's a proper job and you can apply for it. And hopefully, there will eventually be training and courses and all that sort of stuff. 

But I think you're a really interesting example of how people end up in dev rel. Because I'm really fascinated, because you started by studying law and then you did marketing and you taught yourself to code. And now you do dev rel for a fairly substantial organization with a significant developer user base. So, how did that happen? Start at the start; go all the way back. [0:02:31]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:02:33] It's a long story, but long story short, I am originally from Brazil and I went to law school there. I graduated in 2016 and right after, I moved to the US. And unfortunately, for law also, I think like medicine, you can't work in the US until – unless you go back to school and revalidate your degree. 

So, I thought, no, I don't want to do that, and I ended up going to Berkeley and studying business. Because I thought if I study business, I might be able to work, have more options of work after that. So, I studied business and I got a job in marketing, mostly because I always thought I was a creative person. I loved my marketing classes at Berkeley. And I got a job in marketing in New York; I moved to New York. 

And I worked in marketing for probably around five or six years. It was great; I worked at two small companies, and then I – and ended up working at an MSD for two years. For those that don't know, an MSD is a managed service provider; they provide IT services for other companies. So, that's when I got more curious and interested in learning more about tech. 

I was working a lot with dev ops engineers, software engineers, sys admis etc. And I thought, I want to become more technical. So, I took courses, a few courses online etc. on and off. And last January – well, January 2022, I started a bootcamp called 100Devs. It's online, free; anyone can start it. It was a great experience. The instructor is amazing; his name is Leon Noel. 

And I studied; I did a bootcamp for six months. I know the bootcamp went until October, but I stopped around July because I was doing some other things. I have a big problem; I try to do a lot at the same time. So, while I was learning programming, JavaScript and Node, React, I also got very interested in dev ops and Kubernetes. 

So, I kind of went out on a tangent and started learning that as well. But I feel like since I started the bootcamp, I started creating a lot of content. So, I created a Twitter on January, right when I started the bootcamp. I created a Twitter account and I shared my journey on there: whatever I was learning, the projects I was working on- [0:05:39]

Richard Rodger:  [0:05:39] I'm sorry, Julia. Is this the Twitter account that has 17,000 followers? [0:05:44]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:05:44] Yes. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:05:46] Wow. 

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:05:46] I know. People asking me how- [0:05:47]

Richard Rodger:  [0:05:47] That's amazing. 

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:05:49] -how did – yeah, how did you grow your account so fast. And I would tell you it's a lot about engaging with the people on Twitter, collaborating with others. And maybe I'll touch on that later as well. But this will help you. If you want to become a dev rel in the future, these all are very essential to do. Because you need to build a community around you, so you need to make friends online, because now everything's online. 

I know I'm lucky to live in New York City, so I get to go to a lot of events in person, but for people that are in other places that there are – there isn't a lot going on, you can do a lot online nowadays. So, go on Twitter, on LinkedIn and message people. One thing that I started doing when I started 100Devs is doing coffee chats, because – this was something that Leon told us to do. 

It was part of our homework to do at least two or three coffee chats with people in the industry already every week. And I think this was the most important thing for me that really helped me grow, because you make friends. You get to learn from people that are experts that are already in the industry. So, what I would do is message people on Twitter, DM them. 

First, I would engage a lot – a little with their content, just because I hate cold DMs. People don't even know who you are and you just DM them and – "Hey, can you help me?" No, they're not going to help you. So, you need to first engage with their content so they can see who you are and see that you're interested in what they have to share. 

And then I would message them and say, "Do you have 15 minutes to chat? I would love to learn more about your journey, how you got in tech. And if you – I want to ask you some questions." And most of the people were okay with that, and I did probably more than 100 coffee chats throughout the first semester of 2022, yes. So- [0:08:25]

Richard Rodger:  [0:08:25 And is it – I guess there is a little bit of a numbers game when you're getting started, right? You got to put the time in. [0:08:34]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:08:34] Yes. Put the time and the effort. Because you're competing against, like, millions of other people that also want to get into tech. They might have a computer science degree; they might have gone through a bootcamp, or might have studied, self-taught. And the first job is the hardest one. Probably everyone has heard that already, but it's true. 

Once you get that first job, it gets so much easier. People started messaging on LinkedIn, like recruiters. Hey, I saw your background. Hey, would you – I would be interested in talking to you etc. So, yes, the first job is the hardest one, and that's when you need to put the most work, for sure. [0:09:23]

Richard Rodger:  [0:09:24] I'm interested in – you took to coding. You've obviously found it intellectually satisfying to do, and something that you could make a career out of. I'm interested in the parallels between law and coding. I did a small amount of law in college as well, and it is written code. Do you think your brain was set up that way, to write code anyway, because of the training in law or… [0:09:59]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:10:00] Yeah, maybe. I think in law, there's a lot of problem solving, and probably I got – I took that and was able to use that in coding. Also, you have to read a lot and study a lot. But that's the same for all the industries. But that really helped me to be disciplined when I started the boot camp. 

I would study every day, even on the weekend; I would put 2-3 hours. Because the beginning is crucial; you need to be disciplined and study and work on projects; do coding challenges. There are a lot of websites online that you can do coding challenges. Read Code, Codewars etc. And that's why a lot of people, they end up giving up at the beginning, because it's not easy; it's definitely not easy. But maybe law gave me that resiliency that made me keep going. [0:11:07]

Richard Rodger:  [0:11:08] Do you think that if you work as a dev rel – because there's lots of aspects to dev rel, right? [0:11:13]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:11:15] Mm-hmm. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:11:15] Do you think it's necessary to be able to code? 

Julia Furst Morgado:  Yes. A lot of people – well, yes. I – let me tell you a little bit of what dev rel is. People ask me, "What does a dev rel do?" It's not marketing; it's not sales; it's not a software developer. I would say it's a mix of everything. But dev rels, they need to learn; they need to know how to code. Because they will be working with the product of the company they work for. So, they have to work on projects, create demos etc. and then create content around that. 

So, if they don't know the technical part, how will they be able to talk about that at a conference or on a video stream on a podcast. So, if they don't know how to code, then they can go to marketing, because marketing, you don't need to be technical. But if you want to become a dev rel, yes, you need – you don't need to be an expert, a software engineer, but you need to know at least the basics, and then keep studying. I think in any industry, people should always keep studying and keep learning. So, that goes as well to dev rels. [0:12:40]

Richard Rodger:  [0:12:41] Yeah. And I think that is a good point, because you have to – well, I suppose the interesting question is, is dev rel a part of marketing; is it a part of customer success? In your current company, Veeam – and you guys do backup solutions and stuff. Tell me more. You're interfacing with developers that are using product, but how are you guys organized? Do you report to marketing? Do you report to the CTO? Do you have your own unit? How do you- [0:13:11]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:13:13] We do report to the CTO; we are right under the CTO. But it depends on the company. I've heard of companies that have dev rel under marketing, dev rel under engineering. Dev rel under sales as well, they work along with sales. But for Veeam, I – we work under the CTO, and it's funny, because they don't – we're not called dev rels. We're called global technologists. I don't know why they chose that name, but we do dev rel. 

I go to conferences a lot to talk about the product, evangelizing. Because dev rel is the same as developer advocate, developer evangelist. People – I don’t know. There are so many names for the same role, the same job, which is basically creating content around the product, technical content about the product; going to conferences; talking also about the product; building communities around the company and the company goal, raising awareness for the company. So, all of that are some of the tasks that a dev rel does. [0:14:34]

Richard Rodger:  [0:14:36] And I'm just thinking about who – if people are thinking about going into this job and they're trying to understand if they're suitable for it. What I found – I was a coder, and the first 10 years of my career, I was just sitting in an office quietly coding. I didn't go to communities or talk to anyone really. 

But what I found was that there was quite a lot of coders that were a lot better than me who could just do the details a lot more. But my bosses would often ask me to do the presentations, this type of thing. I've been through a journey of self-discovery, where I realized I'm not really good at one thing, but I'm okay at a lot of stuff. And I think that's- [0:15:28]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:15:27] A generalist. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:15:29] Yeah. Would you agree? If you feel that you're a generalist, or you have a wide range of interests, that dev rel is a good career option? [0:15:36] 

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:15:38] Yeah, probably. I would say there are also people that are specialized in one area; they also can be dev rels. But generalists tend to be – to go towards that path, because they can talk about different topics. So, they can go to a conference and talk about several different things, and then they meet people and they can talk about a lot of things. And probably that helps, but not necessarily. 

I think what's important to be a dev rel is your comfort goal with – you have your social skills; these are very important. Because a lot of people in tech, they are more shy, introverts. Not that if you are an introvert, you cannot be a dev rel, but it would be harder. Because you get to interact a lot with other people, with communities, with – talking, public speaking. So, it will be harder for introverts, but definitely, you can do it; you have to work on that. But not necessarily you need to be a generalist. Whoever wants to be a dev rel, you can be; you just need to follow some steps. [0:17:11]

Richard Rodger:  [0:17:14] Yeah, and talking about it as a career choice – at the moment, where we are, there's a whole bunch of tech layoffs happening. And the word on the street is that dev rels are particularly vulnerable because they're not seen as building core product, and fall under marketing, and marketing always gets cut when these types of things happen. 

So, does – is that a temporary blip? It feels like dev rel has to be a fundamental thing that companies do now, especially companies that are API based. It feels like you have to have a dev rel activity in your business. [0:17:59]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:18:03] I totally agree with you. But because it's a new role – even I didn't know what a dev rel was before I started coding, before I started the bootcamp. I had never heard of this term, of this role. And even a lot of companies, they don't know what a dev rel is, and they don't – or they don't see the value of what dev rels do. So, that's the main problem. And then they – with all these layoffs, companies, they need to cut the budget. And yes, end up letting go the dev rels. Usually, they keep the marketing staff, but dev rels are probably one of the first ones to go, unfortunately. [0:18:55]

Richard Rodger:  [0:18:56] Yeah. I wonder will that change over time. [0:19:00]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:19:01] I hope so. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:19:04] I hope so too; I hope so too. It's certainly – I, as a developer, as somebody who helps companies, and I do fractional CTO stuff and all that sort of thing – I'm the key decision maker for a lot of the third-party services that my clients would use. So, I'm very aware of the dev rel capabilities of those service providers, and that drives my decision. So, if they don't have a good engagement model with developers, I'm going to recommend somebody else. [0:19:36]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:19:38] Yeah. But I don't know if you will agree with me, but for instance, I have been to a lot of conferences and talked to people, and then I tell them, "I'm a dev rel." And they say, "What is a dev rel?" So, you tell me if it has happened to you as well. And that's my goal also with my job, is to raise awareness of what a dev rel is, and why companies need a dev rel, to help them grow. 

Because otherwise, if companies, they don't see the value of it, soon they won't even want to have dev rels; dev rels' jobs will go away, and who knows? I don't think it will disappear, but we need – dev rels are very important. They are the bridge between the company and the audience, their target audience, which are – mostly for these companies that you mentioned, APIs etc. – also like my company, backup software, software companies – dev rels are the bridge between the company and their audience, their customers. [0:20:50]

Richard Rodger:  [0:20:52] Yeah. Which takes me onto the next question that I had for you, since you would have recently had this experience. But I like to discuss these scenarios, because so many people are moving into this role. Which is, if I've just taken on a job as a developer advocate, what should I do in my first three months? 

And let's make the scenario a little bit more concrete. Right now, the majority of people are coming into organizations who've decided, "We need developer relations. Let's hire a team." Don't really put much structure in place. We're not talking Mongo DB, who built their whole business on developer relations. So, let's say you've taken on a job in an organization where developer relations is only starting. What do you do in the first three months? [0:21:53]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:21:55] Yeah, so-

Richard Rodger:  [0:21:56] What's the plan? 

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:21:59] That's hard, especially for small company startups that bring up dev rels to start a new department. It can be very tricky. But first, sit down with marketing and sales and align the goals and objectives are of the company. What do you want to achieve throughout the year? And work together with them. 

And then besides that, it's all about taking the initiative. The dev rels, they need to submit CFBs to go to conferences. They need to create content: documentation, videos, blog posts, and anything around that. And also, which is one other aspect of dev rels is community. So, trying to engage with the community, whether it can be online or in person. 

In my case for example, I run a meetup here in New York City called New York Code and Coffee. And I was even doing that before I got my dev rel job at Veeam, but now I use it to my advantage. I give some – not webinars but demos at the meetup. I also – I'm an AWS community builder, so we're planning to do a small meetup as well here in New York City, with Veeam and AWS. 

So, it's all about engaging with the community and helping other people, lifting other people and helping them grow in their career. Because then there will be – they will start looking at you and thinking of you as the go-to person for the product, for whatever needs they do have. [0:24:09]

Richard Rodger:  [0:24:11] Yeah, and what you've just described, some organizations expect it to be done organically and other organizations measure it quite carefully, so they generate OKRs and all sorts of stuff. How does it work at Veeam? Is there a measurement system or is a type of (inaudible, 00.24.31) good or-

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:24:32] I'm very fortunate that we don't have any KPIs or anything we – measurements. We have a lot of freedom to do what we want, which can be good and bad. But these – my manager even told me that before, from before I started the job, that there wasn't going to be a micro-manager and I would have the freedom to do what I wanted. Which means I need to take the initiative and do things. 

And the only goal of – the only thing that they expect is to see more awareness of the company on social media, people talking about it. That's the only thing they expect. They don't expect more sales, more people signing up or downloading our product, because this is more for sales and marketing. But again, this depends a lot from company to company. 

A lot of companies, when dev rel is under marketing, they do have this measurement. So, you go to a conference, you need to bring at least X amount of people to sign up for the product. But we don't have that at Veeam and I'm very grateful for that. [0:25:57]

Richard Rodger:  [0:25:57] That's great. Yeah, because if you did that – lots of conferences don't even take talks that are just product- [0:26:04]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:26:04] Exactly. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:05] People try to do that. [0:26:06]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:26:07] Yeah. No-one – developers. [0:26:07]

Richard:  [Inaudible] Time: 0:26:07

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:26:09] Developers, they don't want to be pitched. [0:26:12[

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:13] Yeah, it doesn't work like that. [0:26:14]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:26:14] Exactly. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:14] But it's strange, because at the same time, in my personal experience, what happens is that you give a talk that somebody's interested in and they talk to you afterwards. You might have a few Twitter messages over the next year. And then 18 months later, that's when they're ready to buy, and there's a [price review?] Time: 00.26.36. And then it turns out that was a million dollars in revenue-

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:26:39] Exactly. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:40] -because of a conference talk 18 months ago. [0:26:41]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:26:41] Yeah, that's why you need to nurture it. Similar to what marketing has, nurturing the leads, dev rels, they also do have that, but it's more engaging and collaborating, helping the people. It can be similar to – you can call it nurturing as well. But it's not something that you're forcing them. Look at this blog post or download this app and use it. No, it's just be there for when they need you and then they'll remember you in a few months, when they really need you, exactly. [0:27:25]

Richard Rodger:  [0:27:27] And I think that insight is the right place to finish up and say goodbye. Julia, thank you so much. This has been really interesting. And it's good to get an insight from somebody who has just recently entered and taken up this role. A lot of the people I'm speaking to are like me; they've been doing dev for a couple of years and randomly ended up in dev rel. But you are a lot more goal-focused, which is very – which is really cool. [0:27:59]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:27:59] Yeah, yeah, definitely. And if anyone has any questions, they can reach out to me. I'm mostly active on Twitter, as you saw. And I will be happy to answer questions. [0:28:11]

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:12] Yeah, we were talking just before we started recording, that a lot of people are thinking of going into dev rel. And they need guidance and they need pathfinders like yourself who figured out how to get there, because the role and the job is still being defined. It is a great job; I love doing it. [0:28:32]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:28:32] Yeah, I agree. [0:28:34]

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:35] Fabulous. Okay, thank you so much. Thank you so much. [0:28:38]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:28:38] Yes, thank you so much, Richard. Thank you for having me; it was great. And I'll see you soon. Till next time. [0:28:44]

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:45] Absolutely. In New York, hopefully. Awesome. [0:28:47]

Julia Furst Morgado:  [0:28:48] Yes, exactly. Bye, take care. [0:28:50]


Richard Rodger:  [0:28:52] You can find the transcript of this podcast and any links mentioned on our podcast page at Subscribe for weekly editions, where we talk to the people who make the developer community work. For even more, read our newsletter. You can subscribe at, or follow our Twitter @voxgig. Thanks for listening. Catch you next time. [0:29:19]