Outreachy Applicant Experience – The Contribution Phase (Mar 25 – Apr 22)

This week is the wrap-up period for Outreachy applicants’ contribution round before the internship offer from May 23 to August 26. Outreachy is a diversity initiative of Software Freedom Conservancy. Outreachy provides internships in open source and open science to people subject to systematic bias and impacted by underrepresentation in the technology industry where they are living. The internship program runs two cycles: summer (May to August) and winter (December to March). The program offers a stipend of $7,000 in the remote setting. It also encourages candidates to apply for Google Summer Code, which runs only in summer.

Important dates for December 2022

Intern applications are accepted from early August to late August 2022.

Internship project list will be finalized in early October 2022.

Internships run early December 2022 to early March 2023.

There is missing information here – contribution period. The contribution period is four weeks. Once your initial application is approved, you can start to contribute to the project that interests you right away. It requires you make at least one contribution to be considered for an internship at your chosen organization.

Application process

Before applying you need to check if you are eligible for the internship. You can find the applicant guide here. You are required to create an account with Outreachy to create a new application for December 2022. They will ask you about your experience as an underrepresented in the technical field. I suggest that you copy the questions and work on them in a separate application – Ms. Word or Google Doc. These questions are the same. If you cannot make it on the first attempt, you can use it later with an update of course.

The contribution period starts right after your application is approved. The contribution period can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to the open-source. There are guidances and instructions to read, but you need to read them because no one is there to guide you. There are unfamiliar tools like Git and GitHub or something similar to it. It is advised that you start immediately.

So what technical skills do you need to have to contribute?

Most of the projects require coding skills as well as documentation and design. However, you need to know at least Git and GitHub because they are the most popular ones in software development and contribution. Some organizations might use a different program, but their workflow is the same. Some organizations have a layout clearly what you need to contribute for internship consideration, while some don’t. Sometimes they have files in a different location on GitHub. That’s why you need to read everything and familiarize yourself with the community

To learn more about the open-source contribution guide here.

Their communication tool is either through Slack or GitHub comments; these are the most popular ones. There will be a lot of tread in the channel, so look for the pin messages and the hashtag messages. There will be people who are way ahead of you. There are people behind you. ALERT: Don’t compare and do things at your pace! Focus on learning and do your best.

What are some of the issues I have encountered so far?

There are a lot of updates for Git and Github. These updates impact my previous settings. Then I don’t know about commit sign-off. I could not get Git to update to the latest version. It took me two days to deal with the issues. I cannot stress how important it is to familiarise yourself with the workflow, Git, and GitHub.

I contributed to the technical writing and documentation for CHAOSS and Ersilia Open Source Initiative. They both are in the health sector that would provide tools and matrics for research and healthcare institutions. The nature of the organization is technical and complex. But, that doesn’t mean there is no space for a non-technical person like myself. You need to have the passion and the will to learn new and meaningful things.

I am new to technical writing and documentation. So I started by editing the current documentation for CHAOSS – Augur. Ersilia is a bit different because they just started. They have a set of topics in the documentation category. They advise you to pick one and work on it. Then prepare for the final application.

I have already submitted my final application to both organizations. I would update the post later if I got selected or rejected. Finger cross!

Good luck!

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