Tag Archives: Google Developer Experts

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Web GDE Shrutirupa Banerjiee shares how we can stay safe in a world of cyber attacks

Posted by Kevin Hernandez, Developer Relations Community Manager

For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we are celebrating Shrutirupa Banerjiee, Web GDE.

The web can be an excellent tool to learn a new skill, connect with people all over the world, digest information, or use new technologies such as Google Bard. However, there can be threats that loom whenever you go online - malware and social engineering attacks (also known as phishing) are some examples of today’s cyber attacks that can steal data or gain access to your system. Luckily, we have people like Shrutirupa Banerjiee, Web GDE, working on ways to keep companies and individuals safe from these threats. Shrutirupa got her start in the field by way of Blockchain security and eventually transitioned into a malware research role as a Senior Security Researcher. As an advocate for cybersecurity, Shrutirupa shares what threats are facing us today and what steps we can take to keep ourselves safe.

Headshot of Shrutirupa Banerjiee, smiling
Shrutirupa Banerjiee, Google Developer Expert, Web

Threats facing the web today

Shrutirupa is mostly concerned with malware and especially those that bide their time and sit in your systems for months and sometimes even for years. She describes, “These attacks get into your system and sit there for months while you’re unable to identify that there is any kind of malware or malicious program. When you’ve already gained trust, it will start connecting with the malicious servers.” A recent example of this type of attack was the SolarWinds attack. With this case, hackers were able to gain unauthorized access to the SolarWinds network in 2019, injected their malicious code into the SolarWinds software in February of 2020, and in March of 2020 SolarWinds unknowingly pushed a software update which included the malicious code (source: NPR). This malware was downloaded by 18,000 customers, compromising the data of companies and government agencies which included the Treasury and the Pentagon.

One mission that Shrutirupa is actively working towards is bridging the gap between developers and cybersecurity professionals. By being made aware of the new threats that face the web, developers can actively safeguard companies and consumers from malware attacks.


How you can stay safe online

Shrutirupa recommends the following to help prevent data breaches or attacks on our systems:

  • Think before you click: Be aware of anything that you’re downloading and do your proper research on the source of the software. You can see what others are saying about the software on community sites like Quora or Reddit.
  • Software updates: Make sure your software updates are up-to-date since these contain patches.
  • Antivirus scanners: There are many free options that you can add to your computer and use to run regular scans to ensure that your system is running safely.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): This method allows you to have an extra layer of security when logging onto sites and notifies you of unauthorized logins.
  • Developers and researchers working together: Consult cybersecurity professionals like Shrutirupa! Cybersecurity professionals are on top of new threats and can make you aware of what you should prioritize as a developer.

Shrutirupa has also been able to leverage Google technologies and the GDE program in order to educate and test in a safe environment. “Google provides me with an environment where I can mentor students who want to get into cybersecurity or want to do development in a secure way. Google also has resources like Google Cloud Platform where you can practice and test everything while learning,” she says.

With people of all ages accessing the internet, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is crucial and Shrutirupa believes that awareness of threats should be a regular occurrence due to the importance of it. She states, “We have children, parents, and grandparents all accessing the internet. Because of this, we should always be vigilant about what we’re downloading and understand previous and new cybersecurity attacks so we can prevent them.”

You can find Shrutirupa on LinkedIn, GitHub, Twitter, and YouTube.


The Google Developer Experts (GDE) program is a global network of highly experienced technology experts, influencers, and thought leaders who actively support developers, companies, and tech communities by speaking at events and publishing content.

How Machine Learning GDE Henry Ruiz is inspired by resilience in his community

Posted by Kevin Hernandez, Developer Relations Community Manager

For Hispanic Heritage Month, we are celebrating Henry Ruiz, Machine Learning GDE, and Latin American and Hispanic developer voices.

Henry Ruiz, Machine Learning GDE, originally had aspirations of becoming a soccer player in his home country of Colombia, but when his brother got injured he knew that he had to have a backup plan. With a love for video games, Henry decided to pursue an education in development and eventually discovered the world of computer science.

Today, Henry is a Computer Scientist, working as a Research Specialist (Data Scientist) at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and finishing his Ph.D. in Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Image of Henry Ruiz in the field at Texas A&M University AgriLife Research Department

Henry, who barely spoke English before immigrating to the United States, has now progressed to the point of preparing to defend his PhD, thanks to the assistance of the Hispanic community.

As a first-generation college student in the United States, Henry was looking for a community where he could feel connected. He received a lot of support from international students and mentions that he always received a warm welcome specifically from the Hispanic community. Joining different clubs on campus, Henry connected with others through food and shared experiences and they served as a support system for one another by creating study groups. Through these connections, he began to notice the impact of developers from Latin America which deeply inspired him. Henry reflects, “We are considered a minority and don’t always have the same opportunities that developed countries have. So we have to be creative and put in an extra effort. So to see these stories of minority developers making an impact on the world is very significant to me.” Henry views Hispanic Heritage Month as a celebration of what Hispanic people have accomplished and it drives him in his work.

"Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of the hard work, the resilience, and the work that people in the community have done,” 

- Henry Ruiz, Machine Learning GDE
Image of Henry Ruiz conducting research at Texas A&M University AgriLife Research Department

Henry has seen progress being made in recognizing Hispanic contributions in the tech industry. “Big companies have been aware of the challenges that we have as minorities and they started creating different programs to get community members more involved in tech companies,” he explains. Well-known corporations have hosted conferences for the Hispanic community and Google in particular, gives out scholarships such as the Generation Google Scholarship. This makes him feel seen and gives the community visibility in the industry. When he sees Hispanics in leadership positions, it shows him what can be accomplished, which fuels his work.

Today, Henry has worked on generative AI projects and leverages Google technologies (Cloud, TensorFlow, Kubernetes) to tackle challenges in the agricultural industry. Specifically, he’s working on a project to detect diseases and pests in bananas. With the strong foundation of his community, Henry is actively helping communities with his research. On his advice to the Hispanic community, Henry imparts the following words of wisdom, “Although some might not have access to the same tools and technologies as others, we have to remember that we are resilient, creative, and are problem solvers. Just continue moving forward.”

You can find Henry on LinkedIn, GitHub, and via his GDE Developer Profile.


The Google Developer Experts (GDE) program is a global network of highly experienced technology experts, influencers, and thought leaders who actively support developers, companies, and tech communities by speaking at events and publishing content.

What it means to be an Android Google Developer Expert

Posted by Yasmine Evjen, Community lead, Android DevRel

The community of Android developers is at the heart of everything we do. Seeing the community come together to build new things, encourage each other, and share their knowledge encourages us to keep pushing the limits of Android.

At the core of this is our Android Google Developer Experts, a global community that comes together to share best practices through speaking, open-source contributions, workshops, and articles. This is a caring community that mentors, supports each other, and isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty with early access Android releases, providing feedback to make it the best release for developers across the globe.

We asked, “What do you love most about being in the #AndroidDev and Google Developer Expert community?”

Gema Socorro says, ”I love helping other devs in their Android journey,” and Jaewoog Eum shares the joy of “Learning, building, and sharing innovative Android technologies for everyone.”

Hear from the Google Developer Expert Community

We also sat down with Ahmed Tikiwa, Annyce Davis, Dinorah Tovar, Harun Wangereka, Madona S Wambua, and Zarah Dominguez - to hear about their journey as an Android Developer and GDE and what this role means to them - watch them on The Android Show below.

Annyce, VP Engineer Meetup shares, “the community is a great sounding board to solve problems, and helps me stay technical and keep learning.”

Does the community inspire you? Get involved by speaking at your local developer conferences, sharing your latest Android projects, and not being afraid to experiment with new technology. This year, we’re spotlighting community projects! Tag us in your blogs, videos, tips, and tricks to be featured in the latest #AndroidSpotlight.

Active in the #AndroidDev community? Become an Android Google Developer Expert.

A group of Android Developers and a baby, standing against a headge of lush greenery, smiling

Interview with Top Kotlin Contributors – Highlighting their Contributions to the Google Dev Library

Posted by Swathi Dharshna Subbaraj, Project Coordinator, Google Dev Library

In May 2017, Google recognized the potential of Kotlin in the mobile developer community and made it an official language for Android development. As a result, talented developers in the Kotlin community used this robust programming language to build inspiring tools and open-source projects. This can be seen in the Google Dev Library, where developers have contributed extensively.

This article will showcase some of our Kotlin Google Developer Experts (GDEs) who have made significant contributions to the Google Dev Library. We hope these projects will inspire and guide your development efforts.
 

Contributors in Spotlight :


Nicola Corti

Nicola contributed Detekt to Google Dev Library, which is a static code analysis tool for Kotlin projects that helps developers detect and report on issues related to security, style, and best practices. It can be used to identify potential vulnerabilities, enforce coding standards, and improve code quality.

How did you get started in Kotlin? Is there any particular project that inspired you?

I began working with Kotlin in its early days of 2015. Though the experience was rocky, the ability to code Android apps in Kotlin rather than Java was a game-changer. At the time, it was challenging to convince my colleagues to switch due to the Java-dominant community. However, the official announcement of Kotlin support at Google I/O 2017 was a defining moment for the language. I am grateful for the ongoing support and development of such a powerful and versatile language, as well as the dedicated community that supports it daily.

I am grateful for the ongoing support and development of such a powerful and versatile language, and the dedicated community that supports it daily. Nicola Corti, GDE Kotlin 

What inspired you to inherit the Detekt project ?

Detekt, a static code analyzer tool, is not a creation of mine, but rather a project that I inherited from a friend who sought support in managing it. I have always been impressed by the capabilities of static code analyzers, particularly in terms of their ability to detect bugs and save developer time. At the time, the market for Kotlin static analyzers was relatively new, making Detekt a valuable addition to the toolkits of many Kotlin developers.

As a Kotlin GDE, what is the one piece of advice for someone who has just started as a Kotlin developer?

I highly recommend getting involved in the open-source community. My contributions to open-source projects have taught me invaluable skills and knowledge that I wouldn't have gained otherwise. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to connect with incredible contributors who have since become friends. Participating in open-source not only benefits yourself, but also the wider developer community.

John O'Reilly

John created the PeopleInSpace project, and shared it with Google Dev Library. The project utilizes the OpenNotify API to display information about people currently in space, such as their names, nationalities, and spacecraft. The focus of the project is more about demonstrating use of Kotlin Multiplatform.

How did you get started in Kotlin? Is there any particular project that inspired you?
In 2010, I began my career as an Android developer, utilizing Java as my primary programming language. As a Java backend developer for the previous decade, the transition was relatively seamless. However, it wasn't until the official announcement of Kotlin support at Google I/O 2017, that I fully realized the potential impact of this new programming language. Gradually, as my team and I started migrating to Kotlin, I came to appreciate how productive and expressive a language it was to use.

As my team and I started migrating to Kotlin, I came to appreciate how productive and expressive a language it was to use.  - John O'Reilly, GDE Kotlin

What inspired you to develop and open source the Peopleinspace project?

In 2018, I was introduced to Kotlin Multiplatform (KMP) and was immediately impressed by its practical and efficient approach to code sharing. At the time, there was still a lot of uncertainty and confusion surrounding KMP, and I saw a need for a simple, easy-to-understand sample project that could demonstrate the basics of KMP.

I had an existing open-source project, GalwayBus, which I initially used to experiment with KMP, Jetpack Compose and SwiftUI as they became available. However, this project had a significant amount of legacy code and was not ideal for showcasing the essentials of KMP.

In late 2019, I came across an article by Ken Kousen that included sample code using retrofit to retrieve a list of people in space. I realized that this could be the perfect foundation for the minimal project I had been envisioning. So, I created PeopleInSpace, a project designed to encapsulate the core elements of a KMP project, and provide a clear and concise demonstration of how the various components work together.

As a Kotlin GDE, what is the one piece of advice for someone who has just started as a Kotlin developer?

Kotlin is a powerful language that offers many advanced features; however, it is possible to be very productive when starting out without needing to use those, in many cases, there are simpler alternatives that can be used, and as you become more familiar with the language, you can gradually explore and implement the more advanced options.

Join the global community of Kotlin developers and share your open source projects or technical blogs on Dev Library. To contribute, submit your content here.

How to learn Kotlin: JetBrains, the company behind the Kotlin language, offers certificate courses and learning tools for developers and has an active user groups forum where developers get support with programming language-related issues.

Introducing the Earth Engine Google Developer Experts (GDEs)

Posted by Tyler Erickson, Developer Advocate, Google Earth Engine

One of the greatest things about Earth Engine is the vibrant community of developers who openly share their knowledge about the platform and how it can be used to address real-world sustainability issues. To recognize some of these exceptional community members, in 2022 we launched the initial cohort of Earth Engine Google Developer Experts (GDEs). You can view the current list of Earth Engine GDEs on the GDE Directory page.

Moving 3D image of earth rotating showing locations of members belonging to the initial cohort of Earth Engine GDEs
The initial cohort of Earth Engine Google Developer Experts.
What makes an Earth Engine expert? Earth Engine GDEs are selected based on their expertise in the Earth Engine product (of course), but also for their knowledge sharing. They share their knowledge in many ways, including answering questions from other developers, writing tutorials and blogs, teaching in settings spanning from workshops to university classes, organizing meetups and conference sessions that allow others to share their work, building extensions to the platform, and so much more!

To learn more about the Google Developer Experts program and the Earth Engine GDEs, go to https://developers.google.com/community/experts.

Now that it is 2023, we are re-opening the application process for additional Earth Engine GDEs. If you’re interested in being considered, you can find information about the process in the GDE Program Application guide.

GDE Digital badge logo - Earth

Angular GDE Todd Motto encourages developers to care for their bodies and minds

Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

Photo of a man in a wetsuit swimming in the water. He is mid stroke and is taking a breath of air

The second of two interviews with GDEs about mental health, during Mental Health Awareness Month

Angular GDE Todd Motto would love to see people talk about mental health more freely–in tech and in other areas of life.

“Everyone struggles inside,” he says. “I see talking about it a good thing. Our brains are highly complex and need maintenance and good fuel.”

Todd says he silently struggled through most of his life with depression and anxiety, so it has become increasingly important to him to be forthright about it. He says ignoring feelings often makes things worse.

“The thing is, you can go through life just thinking it’s normal to feel this way, and you assume everyone else has bad days like that, as well, but things can slowly progress to become worse, without you realizing,” he says. “It took me a very long time to realize I had mental health issues–some issues were from my past, and I had adapted unhealthy lifestyle patterns to deal with those. I was pouring fuel on my own fire and not realizing it. That’s why it is important to me to raise awareness.”

He sees mental health as a balancing act and believes it’s important to take care of your body and mind every day. He recommends choosing your work projects and responsibilities carefully, if possible, to avoid taking on too much, and to pay attention to your internal thoughts.

“It’s important to be in tune with your body and also how your mind feels,” he says. “We all feel stress, but sometimes we just sit on autopilot and ignore it. This is when it’s time to protect your mental health. Keep an eye on your stress levels, as, at least for me, this played a huge role in the rest of my mental health.”

Todd copes with stress by carefully managing his workload, learning new things away from the keyboard, taking breaks from work throughout the day, and taking down time.

“To cope, I don’t overwhelm myself, and I take regular breaks, even if it’s just 1-2 minutes to walk into the kitchen and grab water,” he says. “Maybe I’ll walk into the garden and research a personal topic I’m interested in for a few moments.”

He also incorporates daily exercise, like running, swimming, and weight training, which he says helps his concentration, sleep, and mood.

“I have been running and swimming for years now, and swimming gives you time out from reality,” he says. “When you get physically stronger, you will unlock new levels of mental strength. That is my guarantee.”

Todd’s version of physical and mental challenges might be running up mountains and swimming in lakes, but your version might be going on a walk around the block, picking up a new instrument, or learning how to cook a new meal. Whatever it is, Todd feels it’s important to make time for these challenges, in order to achieve that balancing act he mentioned. He reminds other developers to keep work, life, body, and mind in balance as much as possible.

“I aim to have regular breaks and not overwhelm myself,” he says. “It’s easy to get stressed and have a bad work/life balance. Take breaks, and keep your stress levels low by doing so. You are more than worth it!”

Learn more about Todd on Twitter @toddmotto

Google Workplace GDE Alice Keeler on balancing responsibilities and using coding as self-care

Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

Photo of GDE Alice Keeler smiling. She has blonde hair and is wearing a violet top. Her image is next to the GDE logo

The first of two interviews with GDEs about mental health, during Mental Health Awareness Month

“I don’t think I have work-life balance,” says Google Workplace GDE Alice Keeler. “I could use some. I’m not very good at self-care, either…my idea of a good time is coding.”

Alice may be humble, but she juggles numerous responsibilities successfully. In addition to her freelance programming work and the books she has published, she has five children, all of whom have various mental health challenges. An educator known for publishing add-ons, schedulers, and Google Classroom tips, Alice teaches math to high school seniors. She says they also struggle with mental health, often due to poverty and family issues.

“I see firsthand as an employer, mom, and teacher how mental health challenges affect people, yet we expect everyone to suck it up and go to work, attend school, and respond to family events,” she says. “I’ve really been thinking about this a lot, as I see the challenges my family and students are going through. I try to offer lots of grace and flexibility to others.”

She points out that mental health is very personal. “Of the 20 people I feel closest to in my life, no one solution would work for all of them,” she says.

Coding as self-care

In Alice’s experience, tech has provided a means of self-care, professional opportunity, and academic support. “I think one of the benefits of coding is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be done at a certain time and can offer some flexible creative options for people,” she says. “I can code at 3am, and no one cares. It’s not very social, which is helpful for people who struggle with social expectations.”

And during those coding sessions, Keeler builds creative solutions.

“You can make really cool things,” she says. “When I solve a problem with ten lines of code, it’s a nice way for me to feel valued.”

Alice has found the GDE community to be tremendously supportive, even though at first, she worried no one would want to hear from her.

“I post in the GDE chat, and people respond with, ‘Alice!’,” she says. “I teach math; I’m not a full-time coder. I’m self taught; everything I do, I figure out myself. I don’t feel like an imposter anymore. I’ve gotten 14 add-ons approved.”

She has realized over time that even “experts” are still learning.

“You think everyone knows everything, but they don’t, and people may be considered experts, but you can put something out there they hadn’t even thought of,” she says. “You realize quickly that it’s not like a tower, and you’ve reached the top, it’s more like scattered LEGOs: I know some of this, and some of that, and you know this, and it’s scattered.”

Alice’s coding expertise grew out of her desire to create technological solutions for herself and other teachers that simplified their processes and reduced stress. She’s enthusiastic about the educational technology tools that help both teachers and students decrease stress and improve well-being.

Educational technology for improved well-being

Alice appreciates classroom technology that makes life easier for teachers and students. For example, she cites the tablet as “one of the best things that ever happened to special education,” because it provides students with learning challenges an alternative way to share their thoughts and demonstrate their understanding of academic material. Alice explains that tablets and Chromebooks make it easy to give students extra time on assignments and assessments when needed.

“It brought in an enormous amount of inclusivity that had been impossible,” she says. “It literally gives some kids a voice; they can submit questions and responses digitally, without raising their hands.”

Alice’s focus, as an educator, developer, and parent, is on using technology to streamline tasks and balance responsibility, which reduces stress, improves well-being, and benefits her mental health. During the pandemic, she appreciated how technology allowed her to teach online, write code, and also be present for her family. She had more time to go to her kids’ events and was able to dial down her stress. Like all of us, she’s still figuring out what comes next, but she’s committed to supporting her loved ones and students.

Learn more about Alice on her website or on Twitter @alicekeeler

Google Workplace GDE Alice Keeler on balancing responsibilities and using coding as self-care

Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

Photo of GDE Alice Keeler smiling. She has blonde hair and is wearing a violet top. Her image is next to the GDE logo

The first of two interviews with GDEs about mental health, during Mental Health Awareness Month

“I don’t think I have work-life balance,” says Google Workplace GDE Alice Keeler. “I could use some. I’m not very good at self-care, either…my idea of a good time is coding.”

Alice may be humble, but she juggles numerous responsibilities successfully. In addition to her freelance programming work and the books she has published, she has five children, all of whom have various mental health challenges. An educator known for publishing add-ons, schedulers, and Google Classroom tips, Alice teaches math to high school seniors. She says they also struggle with mental health, often due to poverty and family issues.

“I see firsthand as an employer, mom, and teacher how mental health challenges affect people, yet we expect everyone to suck it up and go to work, attend school, and respond to family events,” she says. “I’ve really been thinking about this a lot, as I see the challenges my family and students are going through. I try to offer lots of grace and flexibility to others.”

She points out that mental health is very personal. “Of the 20 people I feel closest to in my life, no one solution would work for all of them,” she says.

Coding as self-care

In Alice’s experience, tech has provided a means of self-care, professional opportunity, and academic support. “I think one of the benefits of coding is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be done at a certain time and can offer some flexible creative options for people,” she says. “I can code at 3am, and no one cares. It’s not very social, which is helpful for people who struggle with social expectations.”

And during those coding sessions, Keeler builds creative solutions.

“You can make really cool things,” she says. “When I solve a problem with ten lines of code, it’s a nice way for me to feel valued.”

Alice has found the GDE community to be tremendously supportive, even though at first, she worried no one would want to hear from her.

“I post in the GDE chat, and people respond with, ‘Alice!’,” she says. “I teach math; I’m not a full-time coder. I’m self taught; everything I do, I figure out myself. I don’t feel like an imposter anymore. I’ve gotten 14 add-ons approved.”

She has realized over time that even “experts” are still learning.

“You think everyone knows everything, but they don’t, and people may be considered experts, but you can put something out there they hadn’t even thought of,” she says. “You realize quickly that it’s not like a tower, and you’ve reached the top, it’s more like scattered LEGOs: I know some of this, and some of that, and you know this, and it’s scattered.”

Alice’s coding expertise grew out of her desire to create technological solutions for herself and other teachers that simplified their processes and reduced stress. She’s enthusiastic about the educational technology tools that help both teachers and students decrease stress and improve well-being.

Educational technology for improved well-being

Alice appreciates classroom technology that makes life easier for teachers and students. For example, she cites the tablet as “one of the best things that ever happened to special education,” because it provides students with learning challenges an alternative way to share their thoughts and demonstrate their understanding of academic material. Alice explains that tablets and Chromebooks make it easy to give students extra time on assignments and assessments when needed.

“It brought in an enormous amount of inclusivity that had been impossible,” she says. “It literally gives some kids a voice; they can submit questions and responses digitally, without raising their hands.”

Alice’s focus, as an educator, developer, and parent, is on using technology to streamline tasks and balance responsibility, which reduces stress, improves well-being, and benefits her mental health. During the pandemic, she appreciated how technology allowed her to teach online, write code, and also be present for her family. She had more time to go to her kids’ events and was able to dial down her stress. Like all of us, she’s still figuring out what comes next, but she’s committed to supporting her loved ones and students.

Learn more about Alice on her website or on Twitter @alicekeeler

Finding courage and inspiration in the developer community

Posted by Monika Janota

How do we empower women in tech and equip them with the skills to help them become true leaders? One way is learning from others' successes and failures. Web GDEs—Debbie O'Brien, Julia Miocene, and Glafira Zhur—discuss the value of one to one mentoring and the impact it has made on their own professional and personal development.

A 2019 study showed that only 25% of keynote speakers at tech events are women, meanwhile 70% of female speakers mentioned being the only woman on a conference panel. One way of changing that is by running programs and workshops with the aim of empowering women and providing them with the relevant soft skills training, including public speaking, content creation, and leadership. Among such programs are the Women Developer Academy (WDA) and the Road to GDE, both run by Google's developer communities.

With more than 1000 graduates around the world, WDA is a program run by Women Techmakers for professional IT practitioners. To equip women in tech with speaking and presentation skills, along with confidence and courage, training sessions, workshops, and mentoring meetings are organized. Road to GDE, on the other hand, is a three-month mentoring program created to support people from historically underrepresented groups in tech on their path to becoming experts. What makes both programs special is the fact that they're based on a unique connection between mentor and mentee, direct knowledge sharing, and an individualized approach.

Photo of Julia Miocene speaking at a conference Julia Miocene

Some Web GDE community members have had a chance to be part of the mentoring programs for women as both mentors and mentees. Frontend developers Julia Miocene and Glafira Zhur are relatively new to the GDE program. They became Google Developers Experts in October 2021 and January 2022 respectively, after graduating from the first edition of both the Women Developer Academy and the Road to GDE; whilst Debbie O'Brien has been a member of the community and an active mentor for both programs for several years. They have all shared their experiences with the programs in order to encourage other women in tech to believe in themselves, take a chance, and to become true leaders.

Different paths, one goal

Although all three share an interest in frontend development, each has followed a very different path. Glafira Zhur, now a team leader with 12 years of professional experience, originally planned to become a musician, but decided to follow her other passion instead. A technology fan thanks to her father, she was able to reinstall Windows at the age of 11. Julia Miocene, after more than ten years in product design, was really passionate about CSS. She became a GDE because she wanted to work with Chrome and DevTools. Debbie is a Developer Advocate working in the frontend area, with a strong passion for user experience and performance. For her, mentoring is a way of giving back to the community, helping other people achieve their dreams, and become the programmers they want to be. At one point while learning JavaScript, she was so discouraged she wanted to give it up, but her mentor convinced her she could be successful. Now she's returning the favor.

Photo of Debbie O'Brien and another woman in a room smiling at the camera

Debbie O'Brien

As GDEs, Debbie, Glafira, and Julia all mention that the most valuable part of becoming experts is the chance to meet people with similar interests in technology, to network, and to provide early feedback for the web team. Mentoring, on the other hand, enables them to create, it boosts their confidence and empowers them to share their skills and knowledge—regardless of whether they're a mentor or a mentee.

Sharing knowledge

A huge part of being a mentee in Google's programs is learning how to share knowledge with other developers and help them in the most effective way. Many WDA and Road to GDE participants become mentors themselves. According to Julia, it's important to remember that a mentor is not a teacher—they are much more. The aim of mentoring, she says, is to create something together, whether it's an idea, a lasting connection, a piece of knowledge, or a plan for the future.

Glafira mentioned that she learned to perceive social media in a new way—as a hub for sharing knowledge, no matter how small the piece of advice might seem. It's because, she says, even the shortest Tweet may help someone who's stuck on a technical issue that they might not be able to resolve without such content being available online. Every piece of knowledge is valuable. Glafira adds that, "Social media is now my tool, I can use it to inspire people, invite them to join the activities I organize. It's not only about sharing rough knowledge, but also my energy."

Working with mentors who have successfully built an audience for their own channels allows the participants to learn more about the technical aspects of content creation—how to choose topics that might be interesting for readers, set up the lighting in the studio, or prepare an engaging conference speech.

Learning while teaching

From the other side of the mentor—mentee relationship, Debbie O'Brien says the best thing about mentoring is seeing the mentees grow and succeed: "We see in them something they can't see in themselves, we believe in them, and help guide them to achieve their goals. The funny thing is that sometimes the advice we give them is also useful for ourselves, so as mentors we end up learning a lot from the experience too."

TV screenin a room showing and image od Glafira Zhur

Glafira Zhur

Both Glafira and Julia state that they're willing to mentor other women on their way to success. Asked what is the most important learning from a mentorship program, they mention confidence—believing in yourself is something they want for every female developer out there.

Growing as a part of the community

Both Glafira and Julia mentioned that during the programs they met many inspiring people from their local developer communities. Being able to ask others for help, share insights and doubts, and get feedback was a valuable lesson for both women.

Mentors may become role models for the programs' participants. Julia mentioned how important it was for her to see someone else succeed and follow in their footsteps, to map out exactly where you want to be professionally, and how you can get there. This means learning not just from someone else's failures, but also from their victories and achievements.

Networking within the developer community is also a great opportunity to grow your audience by visiting other contributors' podcasts and YouTube channels. Glafira recalls that during the Academy, she received multiple invites and had an opportunity to share her knowledge on different channels.

Overall, what's even more important than growing your audience is finding your own voice. As Debbie states: "We need more women speaking at conferences, sharing knowledge online, and being part of the community. So I encourage you all to be brave and follow your dreams. I believe in you, so now it's time to start believing in yourself."

GDE community highlight: Nishu Goel

Posted by Monika Janota, Community Manager

Red graphic image shows woman holding microphone on stage next to some gears and the GDE logo

Nishu Goel is a renowned web engineer from India, Google Developer Expert for Angular and web technologies, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. She’s the author of Step by Step Angular Routing (BPB, 2019) and A Hands-on Guide to Angular (Educative, 2021) as well as the author of Web Almanac 2021 JavaScript chapter. Nishu currently works at epilot GmbH as a full stack engineer. She told us about her community involvement, career plans and the best ways to learn web development.

Monika: Let’s start with your story. What inspired you to become a developer and take on an active role within dev communities?

Nishu: I got my bachelor’s degree in computer science, we studied data structures, and that’s where the interest in programming started. During the third year of engineering, a connection with the developer community was established through my participation in the Microsoft Imagine Cup Nationals competition where we presented solutions through code. The idea of the application we built was to bring educational opportunities to local students, especially girls. I met some very inspiring people, both contestants and organizers in this journey.

In 2018, my professional career took off, and I started working with Angular. Angular became the primary technology that connected me to the GDE program. Around the same time, I started writing blog posts and creating content around the subject I was working on and learning . Dhananjay Kumar helped me get started on this journey and ensured to keep me on track. My first articles tackled the basics of Angular. Soon after I started speaking at events-the first one being ngNepal, Nepal’s Angular Conference. This led to more speaking invitations about Angular and web technologies.

GDE Nishu Goel stands in the middle of the photo with 4 men on her left and 4 men on her right. They all look into the camera with half smiles

Monika: What’s your professional experience technology-wise?

Nishu: It was all about Angular and web components for the first two years. I was using Angular for building the web, but soon I decided to go beyond that and explore other fields. I didn’t want to limit myself in case I’d have to switch projects. That’s how I started creating web components in Angular to use in other frameworks.

The first thing I did was to create web components using Angular. I published it to npm and used it as a demo in a React project. I’ve discussed this during some of my talks and presentations later. My next job required using React and Typescript. Now, because I was working with React, I wasn’t just using one framework anymore, but the web in general. At that moment I learned a lot about the web, especially web performance. That’s when I had to start thinking about the Largest Contenful Paint (LCP) or First Contentful Paint (FCP), which means how much time it will take your application to load or what’s going to be the maximum time for the page to render. I have been working towards choosing best practices and an improved performance of the applications.

Because of this interest in web performance, I got involved in the Web Almanac and wrote the JavaScript chapter. Web Almanac is an annual report on the state of the web in general — it tells us how people are using different features. Last year 8.6 million websites were screened, the data was analyzed and presented in the report. The report includes statistics like the usage of the async and defer attributes in a <script> element. How many websites are using them correctly, how many are not using that at all, and how many improved those compared to 2020. The last Web Almanac report mentioned that around 35% of websites used two attributes on the same script, which was an anti-pattern, decreasing the performance. This was pointed out last year, and this year we tried to see if the situation improved. I also spoke at ngConf and Reliable Dev Summit, where I focused on the performance of the web.

Close up of the front of a book titled 2021 Web Almanac, HTTP Archive's Annual state of the web report

Monika: You’re also very much involved in giving back to the community. Lately you’ve been volunteering with a Ugandan NGO YIYA — how did it start and what was the main point of that cooperation?

Nishu: It started with the GDE team informing us about the volunteering opportunity with YIYA. The Ugandan NGO was looking for engineers to help them with either the content preparation or technical features. The program aims to empower school-aged children in Uganda and offer them education opportunities using the technologies available locally — not computers or textbooks, but rather basic keypad phones and radios. The children would dial a certain number and receive a set of information, dial another one for more insights, and so on. It became even more useful during the pandemic.

Since I’ve always been involved with the community and sustainable development goals, I decided to reach out. After a meeting with the YIYA team, I offered my help with the Python scripts or any bugs they came up with, any issues with the portal. We worked together for a brief amount of time.

Monika: What are your plans for 2022? Is there anything you’re focusing on in particular?

Nishu: I’m switching jobs and moving to another country. I’ll be working on the web in general, improving the site performance, and also on the backend, using Golang. I’ll continue to zero in on the web performance area since it’s very interesting and complex, and there’s a lot to understand and optimize. Even now, after dedicating a lot of my time to that, there’s still so much to learn. For example, I’d love to understand how using a CDN for my image resources would help me make my app even faster. I want to become THE expert of web performance — I’m gradually getting there, I like to believe :)

Monika: You’ve mentioned starting to write at a point when you were not an expert, you were just writing what you were learning. What would your advice be to new developers coming through and feeling they don’t have anything to share?

Nishu: That’s exactly how I felt when I started writing. I thought that maybe I should not put this out? Maybe it’s just wrong? I was worried my writing was not going to help the readers. But the important thing was that my writing was helping me. I would forget things after some time and then come back to something I wrote earlier. Writing things down is a great idea.

Close up of the front of a book titled Step-by-step Angular Routing, authored by Nishu Goel

So I would suggest everyone — just write, at whatever stage. Even if you’ve only finished one part of a course you’re going through — you’re learning by writing it down. A piece of information that you got to know at some point may be useful to others who don’t know that yet. You don’t need to be an expert. Writing will help you. And anyone, at any stage of their career.

Monika: It’s best to follow people who just learned something because they know all the things they had to figure out. Once you’re an expert, it’s hard to remember what it was like when you were new. And any advice for someone who’s just getting into web development?

Nishu: Many people ask which framework they should choose when they’re starting, but I think that’s not the right question. Whatever we are learning at any point should be useful at a later stage as well. I would advise anyone to drop the limitations and start with HTML or JavaScript — that’s going to be profitable in the future.

And then take any opportunity that comes your way. This happened to me when I stumbled upon information about the Web Almanac looking for authors. I just thought, “oh, this is interesting, this may help everyone with the performance side of things”. That’s how I became a content lead for the JavaScript chapter, and I’ve spent six months writing it. So I think it’s just about grabbing the opportunities and working hard.

Monika: Do you have any predictions or ideas about the future of web technology in general? What’s going to be the next hot topic? What’s going to be growing fast?

Nishu: I love the fact that we’re able to run servers within browsers now, this is a great advancement. For example, running Node.js from the browser has been introduced lately, meanwhile in the past we could not run anything without having Node.js installed in our systems. Now we can do anything from the browser. This is a huge step further in the web ecosystem. And the OMT — Off the Main Thread. Working on the threads is going to be much improved as well. Web Assembly is advancing and enables developers to do that, and I think that is the future of the web ecosystem.