Experience applying to Outreachy Internship program

First encounter

I first learned about  Outreachy  at  The Open Source Summit 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I attended a Linux Kernel security talk where Julia Lawall, a research scientist at INRIA presented her work on Coccinelle – work which I found interesting. At the end of her talk, she briefly spoke about an internship that she helps run, Outreachy,  a scheme that was originally developed to help women step into open source technology but has now started considering also other minorities and people with some circumstances, like  someone who wants to change his/her career.

I became interested in applying  after two interns stepped forward and presented their projects. I of course interacted with them  and Julia after the talk.

Internship application experience

Before being successful, I applied for the Outreachy internship three times;

The first time was in December 2018,  I started the application when the deadline was almost passed. Though I found all the project quite interesting, I did not have a clear picture of which project I really wanted to do so I applied to multiple ones. I was not successful.  After self-analysis, I realised I did not meet the minimum requirements which is 10 patches and two series accepted. I was not very sad because I realised I just learned the basics of git the hard way. This was my first time hands on git and the Kernel.

The second time I did not dedicate much time to the application process. The third time I knew exactly which project fits my profile. I went for them and ensured the minimum requirement is met.  The two projects I applied for were really fascinating for me. They both had  mentors who were willing to help me understand what they want. I told myself I will try to research on them. I had already read about C programming  and  some kernel programming it made it easy for me to submit patches as I had an understanding of what was done when I saw the code.

I sometimes sent patches  that ended up not being accepted. I tried to learn from the failed patches and  re-submitted after  improvement and they normally got accepted after a slight change.  The feedback received from the sent ones was really important.

Being a newbie is fun, I enjoy the application process especially the interaction I had with the experts and the guidance of Greg and Julia Lawall. I made a lot of mistakes and learned from them. I also interacted with one of the other applicant asking her some advice.

Advice

If you are planning to apply for the Outreachy internship, my advice to you is apply, do not hesitate, pick one or two projects that meet your passion  (there  are a range of projects that require different skills from just writing to programming skills) and also check the likelihood of you getting the project. If it happens that you do not get accepted, do not take it personally, it just means you did not qualify yet, try to self analyse, improve on your skills and try again until you qualify next time 🙂

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