Welcome to Meet a Descoper! This interview series shines a spotlight on app builders – whether they are Descope employees, community members, or users of our service. In these chats, Descopers chronicle their daily work, highlight stuff they are proud of, and share advice for developers wishing to pursue similar careers.
Today, we’re delighted to talk with Chris Carper from the Descope developer relations team. Chris spoke to us about his wandering path to DevRel, his approach to building documentation, and the joys of being a car nerd. Take it away, Chris!
How I got here
Q. To start off, can you tell us something about yourself?
This is Chris from the Descope DevRel team! I have three daughters under nine years old and three dogs as well. My sister and my parents both live 100 yards either side of me, which means a lot of my time is spent with family. I’m also a huge car nerd.
Q. How did you end up in developer relations?
I went to school to study computer science because my dad was passionate about technology. I’ve worked in a wide variety of fields over the years spanning basic IT operations, QA automation, customer support, and customer success. I also have a long history of writing code (Python) over 15 years.
My current role at Descope seems like a culmination of my experience so far. It’s a mix of customer success, customer support, and developer relations.
Q. Why did you join Descope?
I had worked with this team extensively at Palo Alto Networks, so when a role opened up it was very easy to say yes! I’ve been with this team across companies for four years now. The founders and engineers are outstanding – they have top knowledge and expertise that they continually aim to improve by talking to customers. They also have a deep-rooted sense of community.
Honestly, it’s like working with family. Getting things done and getting them done correctly is why I’m here.
Day in the life
Q. What’s your favorite part of your day-to-day work in the DevRel team?
I really enjoy the end-to-end nature of the role. I support our developer community both before and after they sign up for our product. An average week might involve interacting with developers at events, doing demos, running developer workshops, writing docs, monitoring the customer support chat, and answering questions on AuthTown.
At Descope, I especially love the fact that if something needs to be done and someone has an idea, they have the freedom to implement it. As an example, we’ve been talking for a few weeks about putting together a migration plan for customers that want to move to Descope from another authentication provider. I took on the project because we didn’t have it and led it to completion because we needed it.
Q. Can you share more about what you do on the docs site? We know you do a lot there!
Before this role, I had never done “official” documentation work before. I had created a lot of internal docs and troubleshooting solutions in a QA capacity in the past, but this is my first experience of “jump in and own it” creation and management of a company documentation portal.
Before Descope launched from stealth, I spent a good three months going over the documentation to ensure everything was up to snuff. Now, around 50% of my time each week is spent on documentation to add features and clarity. It’s very rewarding to see our docs grow and help developers work their way through our product.
Q. What’s one piece of work you are most proud of?
My favorite work-related project was when I led an end-to-end automated testing initiative of 40GB and 100GB network aggregators. We did RFC 2544 testing, automated all the network equipment, and constantly validated that everything was working as intended. What would have taken six months with manual testing got done in three days with this project.
Closer to home, I’m also proud of how I’ve progressed in my mechanical prowess when working on my cars. I have four running cars including two diesel ones and a Golf R. I recently built a motor for my Audi TT and am planning to tinker a lot more in the weeks ahead!
Q. What’s something you wished you knew when you started your career?
I wish I wouldn’t have second guessed my frontend development skills. I always thought I wasn’t a full-stack developer. Before my time at Descope, I hadn’t written frontend code since college. I learned it quickly once I started, but I wish I had learned it earlier instead of having self-doubt.
Q. What advice do you have for DevRel aspirants who are just starting their journey?
A couple of points come to mind.
Firstly, always play with new technology. Growing your knowledge is always good and you never know when it will come into use down the line. Even if you don’t end up using it in your work, simply learning new things keeps rewiring your brain and makes you better at work.
Secondly, always be open to new opportunities. If you don’t spot a straight path to a developer relations role, search for roundabout paths. Transitioning into DevRel after working in other roles is always possible and even encouraged. Working in DevRel is working with people at the end of the day, so the more capacities in which you work with people, the better.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Chris a little better. For more DevRel chats, authentication concept overviews, and more, subscribe to our blog.