What is Outreachy and how to apply for it

Outreachy is an internship program for underrepresented people in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community, if you have ever heard about Google Summer of Code (GSoC), Outreachy is much like this program. If you have never heard about GSoC neither Outreachy, I'll explain what is that about in a few words: the accepted students get paid (USD 5500) for contributing to a FOSS project for 3 months. The program runs twice a year, from May to August and from December to March. To apply to Outreachy, you have to write a patch to a participating FOSS organization and after that fill the application form.

So I am one of the students accepted for the round of May to August, and I'll write here some application tips based on my personal experience to future applicants (just saying, it is my own experience, not an official guide or something, maybe your experience will be different from mine).
  1. Don't feel afraid if you have heard about the program close to the deadline and don't have much experience: When I heard about the program (by a blog post while surfing the web, maybe as you now), there was less than two weeks to go before the deadline, and the applications were running for almost a month when I knew about it. I thought that it would be impossible for me (at least this time), I didn't have any previous contact with those organizations, I thought that only two weeks wouldn't be enough to get to know them and write an application... But I tried, and it worked :) So first of all, is: don't let the challenge of contributing to a FOSS organization that you don't know in a short period of time limit you!  :)
  2. Explore the projects a little, but focus on one: When I decided that I would apply to Outreachy, I started to explore the participant organizations. At some point, I decided that I would apply to Mozilla, but inside Mozilla, there were a lot of different projects that I could apply, and I felt a little lost. But I did a short list with three projects that I was most interested in and contacted the mentors of those projects to know how I could contribute with them (to participate in Outreachy, you have to submit a small patch). The mentors were very receptive and they send some patches that I could work on, but when I was studying about the projects and the issues, one project was the most interesting for me: one related to Pytest and HTML. So I actually started to write my contribution. Maybe if you have more than two weeks to write your application, you can write two applications, but in my case I only had time for one.
  3. Do a good contribution: While I was applying, I was also encouraging some friends to apply as well, I was talking to a friend about the needed patch and she said: "I'll solve the easiest issue there" (she didn't get selected :P). I didn't solve the easiest issue there, but the one that seemed to be more interesting to me. And because it was not that easy to solve (I had to write some lines of code) I got many corrections from my mentor and I think we started to have some kind of closer relation (like, I had to talk to him almost everyday this week to get some help with the issue). Because I am a very anxious person, I've taken a look on the contributions of the other applicants to the project I was applying, and I saw that nobody has done a contribution that they actually had to write some code, it was basically change some parameters or delete some lines of code (And I got selected, they no).
  4. Write a good application and communicate:  In the application form there are some questions about our backgrounds, I was not very sure if writing a good application would help me a lot (because I thought that the background + the patch would be more important) but after hearing from my mentor I think it was as important as the patch and the background; in an email after the selection he said "[...] and I particularly liked seeing your enthusiasm and how well you've communicated throughout your application.". So my fourth tip to get selected to Outreachy is communicate well why you are so excited to be part of this program (I was very excited to be part of it, and now I am very excited to the internship start, and I could communicate that on my application).
That is all! Good Luck with Outreachy! :D

Comments

  1. I'm an intern for this Outreachy round too! My experience isn't much different from yours, well explained. Great post! I'm from Argentina, we are so close!! [enriquetaso.wordpress.com]

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  2. Hi Sofia! Yes, we are so close :) Maybe we can meet after (Idk, maybe use our travel allowance to attend an event close to Brazil and Argentina). I am looking forward to know more about your experience at OpenStack and I to share my experience at Mozilla :) :D

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experience Ana! I was reading how these intern posts are aggregated, and it certainly will be a good reference for future
    interns.

    My experience with Linux Kernel application was different. Linux Kernel does document that it's requirements are a bit different. It only requires
    a first patch acceptance to apply, however, it is recommended that you do multiple patches before taking on tasks with mentors.

    The point I want to share is that it could be a challenge to do if you start late in the application window. The environment set up to get that first patch can take a bit of time. In hindsight it seems trivial, but as a newbie it was not. Once you get on a roll, the mentors are very responsive on the outreachy mailing list, so you can work at as fast a pace as you wish. I'll try to share a few of my favorite ways to get "bogged down" on my blog.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alison! Of course it will be challenging to study about organizations and projects, find one that interests you at most and by the end, do a small patch in a short period of time. But it is not impossible, and I did my whole application in two weeks. I am not saying you should let it for the last moment, I am just saying that if there is less than two weeks to go, it is possible.

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