My graduation was about to end. The placements were over and almost everybody around me got placed. I, on the other hand, was not even eligible for the process of every company that came for recruitments in my college; for not having what they called “a good CGPA.”
I always wondered, why it is necessary to have good grades to get a job. Why aren’t we are checked on the basis of our skill set? Why everytime I was rejected just because I didn’t have a convincing mark sheet? Why I am not given a chance to prove what I really know for once?
It was starting of 2017 and I had lost all hopes of getting a job or intern. It was the lowest phase of my life. Then my friend told me about Outreachy. At first, I saw it as a far-fetched thought which seemed nearly impossible. Then on one sleepless night, I researched about it and read the articles written by outreachy alums for motivation and I began to saw outreachy as a ray of light in the darkness of my life.
Then I started preparing for it. I wanted to work on front-end so that I can bring my creative side along with my technical knowledge. I knew basics of CSS, HTML, JS but it wasn’t enough, I had to go long way ahead.
I gathered the courage to still work hard and able to aim for Outreachy December’18 round and marked the start to this journey by signing up for the Outreachy announcements mailing list.
I started learning ReactJS after covering the basics of front-end development, git/GitHub and made a dynamic ‘Burger-Builder App’ from scratch in ReactJS. The code for the same is open-sourced on GitHub and is live here. With this it was deep dive into advanced concepts of React, Redux, working with web pack etc. After completing this project it was the first time I felt I could make it, I could make it big.
This followed my journey to open source, exploring the word which I had heard a lot but didn’t know what it exactly stood for. I started contributing to Mozilla/addons-frontend and Mozilla/testpilot. Started off by picking up real simple issues with a few lines of changes and eventually moved forward. This process went for more than 1.5 months during which the mentors were really patient and nice (special mention to Will Durand and Paul) for reviewing and pointing out my mistakes. The thing that helped me the most to make progress was to make a systematic table to keep the record of all the issues I picked/created in my notes as shown in the picture below. Yeah, my own very personal version of Trello. 😉
Outreachy is an opportunity that provides a chance to excel for the underrepresented people in tech. It runs twice a year. It is a three-month internship to work in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Interns are paid a stipend of $5500 and also they are given $500 travel stipend. Outreachy is not limited to programming only. It also includes projects based on user experience, documentation, illustration and graphical design, to data science.
The official Outreachy website is here. It is well designed and you can get all the desired information about application process, eligibility rules and the stipend. Mozilla, Git, Debian, GNOME, Kubernetes, OpenStack are few big names which participate in outreachy.
The application process of outreachy is well crafted. It mainly has three stages.
Outreachy asks you to fill an initial application which needs to be approved to further be eligible to apply to the projects. In this application your time commitments, eligibility along with some answers are reviewed by the outreachy team. If your application is approved, then the project list and mentors are visible and you can start making contributions to the projects.
Selection and contribution:
This is the most important part, choosing the right project. You can aim more than one project and start making contributions if you aren’t sure about one particular project. But try not to aim more than two projects as you won’t be able to concentrate properly in between the hustle.
I’ll suggest choosing your project wisely. Shortlist the project according to your best-suited skillset or interest. Start interacting with your mentors, join the communication channels and introduce yourself. Get yourself comfortable with the codebase and start making contributions. Keep track of your contributions and add them time to time so that you don’t rush at the deadline.
The FOSS community I decided to contribute was Mozilla. Mozilla had 9 projects and they intend to select 15 interns for these projects. I quickly went through the projects and decided to contribute mainly to “Improve Firefox Containers Add-ons” project. I already had past experience for add-ons from my previous contributions to Mozilla/addons-frontend and Mozilla/testpilot. So this project piqued my curiosity and I found the code base and mainly the entire concept on which container addon is based really interesting.
I tried to make myself quickly comfortable with the codebase by understanding the main chunks of code, quickly went through the good first bugs and tried to solve them and send a PR as soon as possible. Luckily I was able to solve my VERY first bug and send a PR on the first day.
There might be a lot of people on your project and you might feel there are no issues left to claim, I’ll suggest to be patient and take help from mentors at that time. Try to help other contributors too, who are struggling to either set up the project or are in some way stuck with their first bugs.
In the end, complete your application a bit before the deadline just to you have enough time to discuss it with your mentor. Make sure you record all your contributions and then you are all set to apply to that project. I submitted the proper timeline after discussing it with my mentor, of complete 3 months in which I wrote my goals I want to achieve during this period and make the best out of it.
Getting intern at mozilla add some additional perks to the basket, which makes the journey even more interesting and motivating.
• Mozilla gives each intern a new laptop which is completely their’s to keep.
It feels so good and pampered to have your own latest laptop.
>> I can’t stop staring at my latest Macbook Pro 😀
• Mozilla gives all of its interns the LDA credentials i.e official mozilla e-mail id. More to that, you can also attend the Mozilla All-Hands which is a global mozilla event. All the interns and employees are invited to meet their colleagues, share respective experiences, interact with each other. So you get a chance to meet your mentors and other volunteers you are working with.
Finally, the day arrived. It was a long day with lots and lots of wait! I can’t explain the moment I saw my name on the list. I couldn’t stop my tears and was just staring at my picture for a few minutes.
The way from here on this roller-coaster
I am really excited to dive deep into the project’s codebase and to learn as much as I can despite all the hurdles that are waiting for me in the way ahead. Hope you feel motivated enough for today, so go ahead, make your first contribution today!
If you have any query or doubts regarding outreachy process you can leave me a message, here.
A note to mentors and organisers
I want to thank first of all Sage sharp and Marina for organising outreachy this gracefully. My mentors Luke Crouch and Jonathan Kingston, who helped me a lot in every little step till now and reviewing my initial terrible PR’s.
I will keep blogging about my project during my intern period. Till my next blog, stay tuned!
The days are long, but the years are short. A year from now you may wish you had started today!
Have a good day! 🙂