Coworking: Sarah Guthals wants more people to write code

The director of developer relations at Sentry loves to “create spaces for people to create.”
article cover

Sarah Guthals

· 5 min read

Coworking is a weekly segment where we spotlight Tech Brew readers who work with emerging technologies. Click here if you’d like a chance to be featured.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in tech?

I lead a team of developers (coders) that creates content like blog posts, videos, and tutorials to teach other developers how to use Sentry to make the code they write more reliable. Sentry makes a tool that will let developers know when there are issues with their apps before we notice as users.

What’s the most compelling tech project you’ve worked on, and why?

This is a really tough question to answer because I’ve been lucky enough to work on some incredible tools. But as part of my doctorate, I built a 3D immersive video game designed for kids to use on their own to learn how to write code prior to the existence of and block-based coding languages like Scratch. It was an interesting technological problem—making a 3D immersive video game—with wild technical constraints: needing to work on the not-so-great classroom computers of the 2010s. The user constraints also posed a challenge: Children 9 to 10 years old often do not have a technical teacher in the classroom with them.

This project gave me a lot of experience that I have leveraged to build other apps, start and run a company, lead engineering teams, and now lead developer relations here at Sentry.

What technologies are you most optimistic about? Least? And why?

I’m most optimistic about technologies that bring more people into the field. This is always a contentious conversation to have, but it has been like this every time we are able to make contributing code open to more people with layers of abstraction. I’m sure in the 1950s Grace Hopper was told making one of the first linkers was just making it easier for people to mess things up, and that if a developer needs a linker, they aren’t a “real developer.”

So newer frameworks like Astro are the kinds of technologies I’m most optimistic about: Creating faster ways for developers to be able to worry less about the annoying issues related to creating, deploying, and maintaining web applications, while also creating cleaner experiences for more novice developers to create incredible experiences without having to have years of experience—that’s a win-win in my book.

Where I’m less optimistic is trickier. Generally speaking, I’m optimistic about technologies that involve AI or blockchain, but I think there are too many people trying too hard to get as much money as possible without fully understanding the implications of what they are creating. I can see the obvious benefits from a technical and user perspective, but in AI, in particular, I think we’re getting too much “throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” for me to be very excited about it as a whole field. I do love playing with AI, though, in my little side projects.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.

What’s the best tech-related media you read/watch/listen to?

Honestly, my favorite thing to do is to have streamers on, kind of in the background. I find that listening to people work on building something to be interesting, because they are usually using technologies I haven’t, or building something I wouldn’t, and they always have a background different from mine, so they approach solving problems differently than me. Some of my favorites are Lazar Nikolov, Salma Alam-Naylor, James Q Quick, Anthony Sottile, Jeff Fritz, Brian Clark, and Gwyneth Peña-Siguenza.

What’s something about you we can’t guess from your LinkedIn profile?

I live on a couple of acres about an hour outside of Redmond, Washington, as a single mom with three dogs, two cats, two axolotls, one corn snake, and the best kiddo you’ve ever met. If you follow me on Instagram, you would know this, but I think while it’s common for developers to talk about this more remote lifestyle, I have found the opportunity to embrace it. You can find me most weekends building something, processing dead trees for lumber, swimming in the river with my pups and kiddo, or trying to discover how to grow vegetables.

What do you think about when you’re not thinking about tech?

This is kind of a cheating answer, but I really love finding new ways to support people in accomplishing what they need to accomplish. That’s why I love my role as a people manager in developer relations and why I love being a parent. Finding new processes, social/professional dynamics, and tools to create spaces for people to create and build things I could never imagine brings me immeasurable pride. My thesis was even titled “How to Enculturate Novices Through Informal Learning Environments.” I’m usually thinking through finding new ways for me, my daughter, my pets, my friends, my colleagues, and anyone to be able to do things they never thought they could.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.