Meet Anais Urlichs, Developer Advocate at Aqua Security
Anais Urlichs is originally from Germany but has lived abroad for the past decade before settling in South England. She started her first University degree in Information Systems Management in Madrid, Spain, but after two years and halfway through her degree, she decided to drop out to pursue an online degree in Computer Science part-time, allowing her to work full-time. She is set to finish her Computer Science degree in mid-2023.
Anais' career started off in the emerging blockchain space in 2017, where she worked for several startups, including one based in San Francisco led by several ex-Google engineers whose goal was to build a user-friendly blockchain, accessible to the average smartphone user. This is where she had her first Developer Advocacy role.
A few years later, Anais decided to leave the blockchain space in mid-2020 to access new opportunities. By chance, she got contacted by the recruiter of a cloud-native startup. Once she joined that company, she started her YouTube channel to expand her online presence. Through that work, she connected with the open-source community in the cloud native space and met her current manager who hired her in early 2022. Since then, she has been working as the open-source Developer Advocate at Aqua Security.
We spent that day with Anais Urlichs to understand what a typical day looks like in her shoes.
Setting the day up for success
To me, the most important thing is to get up early. I currently have a puppy, which requires most of my attention, so the first two hours before work are largely focused on her. Going for a walk first thing in the morning really makes a difference to my day as I work from home. Not only do I get some exercise, but it also clears my mind or allows me to think about new content ideas.
Once we come back from the walk, I tend to have breakfast and start getting any unfocused work out of the way such as replying to emails.
I start work around 8AM. The first thirty minutes are dedicated to catching up on all the different communication channels – emails, Twitter messages, Slack messages, and the like. As Developer Advocate, part of my work is to stay connected with the community. This includes engineers who are using our open-source projects or are working on similar projects.
While I get most of the messages out of the way in the morning, I usually check in on them throughout the day. I receive lots of collaboration requests on webinars, blog content or similar. Depending on the type of content collaboration, I sometimes have to jump ad-hoc to a new task.
Once I’m all caught up on all the messages, I start working on content for our open-source projects. This might be a blog post for the company’s blog, a YouTube video, a new page for our documentation, or working on an event presentation. This usually takes the next three hours of focus time. Afterwards, my puppy usually wakes up from her first nap so I spend a few minutes with her, making sure she has entertainment before jumping on a call or preparing lunch. After lunch, we then go for a quick walk or do some more training. Once that is done, it is about 1PM.
My afternoon is usually a little busier with calls, live streams, event recordings, or online events. As half of my team is based in the US and similar time zones, most work-related calls take place in the afternoon. In between every event, I am again usually busy with my puppy for a few minutes.
I then finish between 4 and 5PM, as this is when my puppy needs some more attention. She is usually asleep by 6PM, so if I did not get enough work done that day, I can use this time to catch up.
The days challenges and successes
The most challenging part is the constant context switching. While I try to block periods for focus time and dedicate those to working on a particular type of content, I still have to be switching between social media, Emails, Slack and Team messages a lot. This can sometimes feel frustrating when you feel like you are not moving forward or advancing your work at the pace you would like.
Likewise, community members sometimes comment on my YouTube videos, sharing with me how helpful the tutorial was for them. Reading those messages is always the best part of my day as I get to hear directly about the impact that my work has on others. I tend to save those messages and collect them on a digital starboard. This way, whenever I feel stressed or like I am not doing a good enough job, I can go through them again, which always brings back my motivation.
Unwinding from the day
Working from home, you need a clear break between your work and your private life. To me, the break is in the evening once I start cooking. At this point, I will no longer reply to work messages but focus on my own hobbies. After a busy day, I usually like to watch a TV show, read, do yoga or go to the pub with some friends.
To be honest, I try not to have clear routines. My evenings are always looking slightly different besides the structure and timing of things. My puppy still needs to have a stricter schedule, so I usually spend the early evening with her, playing and training. Once she is in her crate sleeping, I will either work a little more or cook dinner. I love cooking and trying out new recipes so this is the time I would usually do that. Then I would either go to the pub with some friends, do an online yoga class or read. It usually depends on my mood and energy level. I love going to bed early – so I’m usually in bed by 9PM.