You should definitely apply for Outreachy!

I’m really pleased to be sharing my experience as an Outreachy intern for the Winter 2018/19 round. I have learnt a great deal just from applying for the internship, so I’m looking forward to working on my project for the next 3 months and am particularly excited to be working at Mozilla.

OK, so what is Outreachy?

Outreachy provides three-month long internships to work in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Interns are paid a stipend and projects may include programming, user experience, documentation, illustration and graphical design, or data science. The internships run twice a year, from December to March or July to September.

What makes Outreachy great?

There are many aspects of Outreachy that make it unique - the amazing organisations that take part, the projects that are available for interns to work on each round, the opportunity to work closely with extremely knowledgeable mentors, the community of interns and alumni - but for me one key advantage is that the internship is completely remote. I recently graduated from Founders and Coders a unique, FREE full stack JavaScript bootcamp that follows a peer-mentorship model. I am fortunate to live in London, but as the mother of 2 young children I am unable to commute on top of full-time hours, so after completing the course was not able to apply for office-based internships or jobs. Working remotely means that I save on travel time and am able to do the required hours a week in a way that fits in with the school and nursery run! I am really grateful to have a supportive mentor and we have a clear plan for the next 3 months. Over the internship I will be able to develop my skills and focus on the areas I am interested in so I am confident to take the next step in my career (which will hopefully involve FOSS!).

The application process

There is a long list of projects that you can choose to apply to all from a variety of organisations - as well as Mozilla, others include Wikimedia, Linux Kernal, GNOME and Kubernetes. This round there were 44 projects. There were a number that were interesting to me, but the one that stood out to me was the Standardization of Web Application APIs project. As well as elements of testing, QA and coding - there is also the opportunity to work on developing and editing technical specifications to move API specifications along the W3C standards process. I had never really thought about the standards process, but as I read about it began to understand how fundamental it is to the development of the web. With this project I could further my skills but also learn more about the standards framework. I reached out to the mentor on the project, Marcos, and we had an initial Google Hangout so I could learn a bit more about the project and what was expected. Marcos is in Australia, so this demonstrates how working remotely can open the door to working with people abroad and in different timezones.

As part of the application process, applicants are required to make a contribution to the project. Marcos gave me a few options to look at, and I chose one and made a pull request. I felt a real sense of accomplishment when it was merged! Once applicants have made their first contribution, they write an application form including a project plan for the 3 months, including a timeline and deliverables. Applicants can continue making contributions and I found this a really good way to understand the project and also figure out the working style of my mentor and whether that suited me.

Who can apply?

From the Outreachy website:

Outreachy internships are open to applicants around the world. Interns work remotely with mentors from FOSS communities. We expressly invite women (both cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people to apply. We also expressly invite applications from residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. Anyone who faces under-representation, systemic bias, or discrimination in the technology industry of their country is invited to apply.

Who should apply?

If you are reading this far and are eligible, then you are obviously intrigued and I highly recommend you think about applying. Any time you put into applying will be well worth it, you will learn so much even just from that process! If anyone is nervous about applying, the communities are all very welcoming, both Outreachy as a whole and the organisations who put forward projects. I have been lucky enough to meet some other interns, and I feel like I have a ready-made support network! Go for it, and contact me if you have any questions or need advice 🙂

Written on December 7, 2018