Beyond Outreachy: Final Interviews and Internship Review

The last few weeks (week 11 – week 13) of Outreachy were probably the hardest weeks. I had to do 3 informational interviews with the goal of getting a better picture of the open source/free software industry.

The thought of talking to someone I don’t even know just overwhelms me. So this assignment just leaves me scared to death. Pressing that “Send Email” button to these interviewees required me to summon up all of my courage but it was totally worth it. I really appreciate their time for chatting with me.

On the other hand, it’s hard to believe the internship is coming to an end! Good news is that I will be sticking around Debci after this.

Informational Interviews

The theme for week 11 was “Making connections”, so I had to reach out to 3 people that is beyond my network for an informational interview. I’d rather just call it an informational chat so it doesn’t sound too scary. My goal is to know better about how companies involved with open source survive and how others are working remotely. Therefore, my criteria for the interviewees were really simple but not so easy to find:

  • Lives in Taiwan
  • Works remotely
  • Their company is dedicated to open source/free software

At last I was really lucky to have them for my final assignment:

  • Andrew Lee: also part of the Debian community, has been working on open source for more than 20 years in Taiwan, works at Collabora, an open source consulting company
  • James Tien: works at Automattic, a company known for working on WordPress, link to his blog here, it’s in Chinese
  • Gordon Tai: works at Ververica, a company known for working on Apache Flink

A big thanks to them and to terceiro who guided me through this. During my search, it was hard to find someone working for a local company here in Taiwan that fulfilled my criteria.

I have organized and summarized below:

Staying in Open Source

  • Passion is needed for coding and open source, you have to really enjoy it to stay in the long run
  • Opportunities come unexpectedly, you never know when or how they would come to you
  • Write “code”

Remote work

  • People can still sense your up and downs through your chat messages and facial expressions in video calls
  • Communication is much more important than the actual code itself, sometimes you spend more time speaking out than coding down
  • You can use a pomodora clock to help focus or try working different hours
  • Try working in different environments: cafe shop, under the tree, in the forest, beside the ocean etc.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise!

These above were very general but it was the stories and experiences that I heard that were special. It is for you to find out by doing your own informational interviews!

Internship Review

Last but not least, here’s a wrap-up of my internship in QA format. Hope that this helps anyone that wants to participate in future rounds get a better picture of how the Outreachy Internship was with Debian Debci.

What communication skills have you learned during the internship?

Asking questions and leaving comments. Since I am not a user of Debci, I started with absolutely zero knowledge. I even had to write a blog post to help me clarify what those terminology were for and come back to it if I forget in the future. I asked lots of questions and luckily my mentors were really patient. As we only have a video chat once per week, we discussed mostly through comments in the merge request or issue most of the time. Sometimes I find it hard for me to convey my thoughts with just words (or images), so this was a really good practice.

What technical skills have you learned during the internship?

I only started writing Ruby because of this internship. Also, I wrote my first VagrantFile. In general, I think getting familiar with the code base was the best part.

How did your Outreachy mentor help you along the way?

My mentor reviewed my code thoroughly and guided my through the whole internship. We did pair programming sessions and that was really helpful.

What was one amazing thing that happened during the internship?

The informational interview was pretty horrifying and at the same time amazing. The idea never really came to me that people would really take the time and talk to someone they don’t know. I am really grateful for their time. Their personal stories were really inspiring and motivating too.

How did Outreachy help you feel more confident in making open source and free software contributions?

In my opinion, Outreachy’s initial contribution phase is really important. It kind of forces candidates to at least reach out and take the first step. Even if you didn’t get accepted in the end, you still went from 0 to 1. That is when you find out that the community is actually pretty welcoming to newcomers. So for me, it wasn’t about being more confident, but rather a not so scared case.

What parts of your project did you complete?

I added a self service section where people can request their own test through the Debci UI without fumbling through CURL commands. Also added a VagrantFile for future newcomers to setup the project more easily. Hope it works for them because I’ve only tested on my computer. We’ll see then.

What are the next steps for you to complete the project?

I’m sticking around and at least until I finish the parts that I started because I think it was fun and people actually made some requests related to this. It’s always exciting to see what you are building is wanted by the users.

Really appreciate the opportunity that Outreachy has been offering to interns! Assuming that you have read through this post, you probably are interested in Outreachy. Please do come and apply if you are interested or recommend it to others!

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