When Adrienne Tacke goes to work at MongoDB, one of the world’s leading NoSQL databases, she’s likely to be pulled in a lot of different directions. On any given day, she may be creating content for YouTube or Twitch, writing a blog post, helping prepare for an industry event or chatting with her product teams to share user feedback. It’s all part of her job as senior developer advocate at the fast-growing database company.
"It’s mix of a whole bunch of different things every single day. It's always entertaining,” says Adrienne. "That's kind of my life right now.”
It’s a life that has kept Adrienne trying on all sorts of roles. But they all have a common thread: helping people solve problems. It’s no coincidence her first job was as a technician at her university’s IT help desk. "That’s how I got into problem solving, troubleshooting and helping people,” she says.
After years of doing software development work in and around her hometown of Las Vegas, Adrienne found the perfect niche as MongoDB’s dev advocate. It was a job title she didn’t even know existed, but it fit her to a T.
"The part that resonates with me the most is that it’s a direct connection in relationship to other developers,” she says. "I’m a developer by background and I understand the pains and pressures of learning that job. There are so many new things, a lot of complicated things to learn to be successful…It's super overwhelming.” That’s why Adrienne says it’s important to empathize with developers and make their experience better.
Like many of the developers she works with, Adrienne has experienced the emotional angst of being in over your head at a job—what many call the "imposter syndrome.” "I can understand that a lot,” she says. "Especially as a woman in tech, I often felt like I was going to be found out that I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm going to get kicked out." But she eventually realized that no matter where you are in your career, there is always something new to learn—a knowledge gap that needs to be filled. "The imposter syndrome is normal at every stage,” she says.
At MongoDB, Adrienne has enjoyed a front row seat in the changing landscape of database technology. She grew up working with traditional relational database systems using SQL. The table-centric system has served its purpose in industry for a long time—and it’s still being used—but new ways of storing and sorting data are making inroads into IT, especially for cloud-based applications.
"MongoDB is a different way of storing and thinking about data,” Adrienne says. “Instead of storing it in super-rigid and strict tables, you may store a bunch of related data together in a single place we call a document.”
It turns out that NoSQL "document databases” offer some advantages over its relational rival. Its flexible framework is perfect if you have data that changes a lot, if you need large-scale data or if you need to build a prototype rapidly. That often makes MongoDB the right choice for agile DevOps-powered organizations that place a premium on rapid iterative development. "NoSQL gives you a high level of velocity and offers the ability for a developer not only to get fast feedback, but then to more easily incorporate those learnings.”
Advice to Aspiring Developers
Of course, NoSQL is just one part of what occupies Adrienne’s life these days. At a recent Global Azure conference, she presented a talk on durable functions and serverless computing, key capabilities of modern cloud services. Then taking another tangent, she recently wrote a children’s book on tech called Coding for Kids: Python. Amazingly, she finished it in just three months. "It was the hardest thing that I've ever had to do,” she says. "I’m very proud of it.”
Adrienne is also an active blogger. In one of her latest posts, she served up advice to anybody aspiring to become a software developer. At the top of her list: "Fail fast and fail often.” That’s because when you don’t fail, "you don't encounter some of the real opportunities to learn,” she says. It's smart advice from a dev advocate who’s all about helping developers learn to be successful.
To hear the rest of Adrienne Tacke’s advice, tune in to our conversation on Episode 103 of DevOps Radio. And be sure to catch Adrienne at DevOps World later this year. Connect with her on LinkedIn and visit her personal website at www.adrienne.io.
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