We The People | Alex Lakatos

This week, I’d love to introduce you to our one and only, Laka, who is Dev Rel at Fidel. At this point, you are wondering… Isn’t that the guy who interviews everyone else? That’s right, but the content creators also deserve the spotlight once in a while. After this read, you might want to take a look at his Twitter - nothing like a mix of avocados and DevTools posts to brighten your day.

B: Tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is Alex and I'm an... Advocate. A Developer Advocate. What that means is I am a bridge between the Fidel API and the developer community that's using our APIs. Scratch that. I keep forgetting I'm a “Manager” now, I've gone over to the dark side. I'm also a reformed JavaScript Developer, and I've dabbled in my career with everything from writing tests for a certain foxy browser, to powering your green energy supplier, from disrupting the payments industry to advocating for a certain new-age communications API. I don't really like to talk about myself much, but if you fancy a chat, you can always find me on Twitter.

B: Why did you join Fidel?

Laka: I've joined Fidel in the middle of a pandemic, I must have had a good reason. I can even remember when I decided to join: the moment I met Dev and Andre, the founders. I know we went through a bit of a dance there, where they pretended to interview me, and I pretended I was hard to get. But in all fairness, I took a call to meet the founders, thinking I was going to let them down easy, and then magic happened. Their passion was infectious, their vision was 20/20. And most importantly, they lived the company values. Those weren't just some nice words written down on the website, they were something both of them radiated. So I was glad to accept my next challenge with them.

B: What’s the tech stack you currently use?

Laka: Email, spreadsheets and markdown. I'm kidding, but it does feel like I spend most of my time fighting with those three. In the moments when I'm not, I'm experimenting with anything that I find interesting. And for someone with ADHD, that's a long list. I've spent my time picking up Gatsby and GraphQL recently because that's what the Fidel Docs use under the hood. I've also dabbled with all the Serverless providers out there in a short span, trying to get out of my comfort zone of defaulting to Azure Functions. Most importantly, I usually dabble in Proof-of-Concept land, so React Native, Android and iOS are my constant companions, seeing as the Fidel SDKs are written in those.

B: What are some of the most interesting challenges you’re solving?

Laka: The challenge for me now is to build a Developer Relations program for a startup. This being the first year of said program, there's a lot of choices to be made. If you have no idea what DevRel is, let me break it down for you really quick. The industry is torn between these two models for building a program: AAARRRP & Orbit. And you'd think I could choose one, and stick with it. But no, I had to go ahead and be... interesting. So I'm not going with any of those models.

I'm going about building a DevRel Culture instead. Because the people working here at Fidel are the best people to be building relationships with Developers, I'm focused on giving everyone the tools, knowledge and support of doing my job. I help people write blog posts telling their stories. And I help people build our products with a developer mindset. Hence helping them think about the developer experience from day 1. I also help the people here look for feedback from our developer community, and action it instead of waiting for it to fester. All in all, the challenge here is to make myself redundant instead of a gatekeeper.

B: What is your favourite thing about working at Fidel?

Laka: It's hard to pick just one. If we weren't living through a pandemic, I would probably say it was the unlimited time off. And the level of trust everyone has, to be able to not abuse that particular perk. But alas, it's not as rewarding to stand around the house and do nothing for a holiday. I'd say my favourite thing is the fact that everyone cares about each other’s well being and mental health. It comes from the top, Dev is setting a great example there. In the six short months I've been here, he's come out twice and told everyone to take a mandatory Friday off, to just relax and take care of our well being and mental health. And I love the fact that he's so conscientious of what everyone is going through during this pandemic.

B: How do you keep up with current trends and advances in software development?

Laka: I'm probably subscribed to a few dozen developer newsletters. No, that's not an exaggeration, it's part of the job description. So news kind of has a way of flooding my inbox. With the absence of 12-hour flights regularly, my ability to stay on top of that flood has somewhat diminished. I now consume most of my developer news in audio format, as podcasts, while I walk around the harbour on my doorstep.

I also run a Developer newsletter, so that tends to ensure I read a couple of dozen articles a week. It also helps that the Fidel Backend and Frontend communities meet once a week, and discuss all sorts of crazy things. Like error codes for the API, or the use of TypeScript Interfaces for the API. Or you know, migrating from Angular to React, or introducing micro-frontends into the mix. So there's plenty of knowledge for me to absorb from those.

B: Any tips for people that want to join you at Fidel?

Laka: Do your homework. I think the best advice I can give you here is to read everything you can, so you don't spend a lot of time during the interview process asking questions for things you could have googled beforehand. Yes, we have a set of values. Sure, we're comfortably funded. Yes, our stack is JavaScript and Lambdas.

Spend that interview time asking the questions for which you haven't found answers online. I firmly believe the interview is a 2-way street, not only for Fidel to figure out you're qualified but also for you to figure out Fidel is awesome. So spend that time getting to know the people interviewing you, ask them about our culture, and figure out if it's a good match for everyone involved.