what even is a "community engineer" even???
my position at fog creek as community engineer on the glitch team is new for both me and the company. glitch is a young product and i was hired to build a community around it which is all new and exciting and terrifying – but anyone who knows me knows that i LIVE for the new and exciting and terrifying.
when it came to the point where we had to actually lock down a job title, i was thinking a lot about how the stigmas of titles have hurt me, as a female engineer, in the past. and not only that, they can isolate the people we are trying to serve. it was through that thought process that i came up with "community engineer." also, it turned out "ceo" was taken.
"wow rude, anil" - jenn schiffer, community engineer on glitch.com and not ceo of fog creek
so there are two parts to my role, therefore two words: i work on community and i am also an engineer. and there are two things you need to look out for when you have the privilege of choosing a title: yourself and the people you are serving - but most importantly YOURSELF!
i'll be completely frank with you - as a woman, the day your title no longer includes "engineer" or something of that sort, the perception of what you do changes and it's hard to build that back up. as someone who has worked in two systemically sexist fields (academia, web development), i 100% am behind the idea that job titles are a social construct designed to strengthen the glass ceiling, full stop. so it is imperative that as long as i'm doing a job that involves building web applications, even if not on the core product, i have the title of engineer or developer.
and this leads me to the people i'm serving: our community. many folks have already told me "basically you're a dev evangelist" and that's true and it's new and exciting and terrifying for me to be in such a role - i've never fully believed in a product to the point that i would quit my job and throw myself into a new and exciting and terrifying one like this before. through the power of social media and building cool things with glitch, i'm helping build a community of people who want to use code to solve problems!
but i want to call them the community and not just "developers." it turns out out that some of these folks do not consider themselves "real developers" because they have no interest in coding being a full-time job. and i'm not talking about impostor syndrome this time, that's a whole other blog. what i'm talking about here is analogous to how i once learned how toilets work so i could fix mine because i was too broke to hire someone to do it, but wouldn't call myself a "real plumber." there's a backwards stigma to using developer when i want to include everyone and so i feel like "community" is the perfect term to use in my role.
anyway, i write about this because i get asked all of the time what "community engineer" means and why i picked that title. and i've been hearing about people in similar roles who want to be called that and i think that's super rad! i never really considered myself "good at words" but i think i did p good this time for both myself and the people i'm trying to serve - everyone who wants to solve problems with code :)