I am coming to the close of my 3 month internship with the Fedora infrastructure team, thanks to the Gnome Outreach Program for Women, and happy to tell any female interested in applying that yes they should. I haven't been blogging about my experiences as much as I should have, but I have enjoyed the royal treatment of entering the Open Source world. The application process and the mentorship really enable you to first learn more about opportunities available and how to research projects to join, and then how to develop your skills while contributing to something that effects a lot of people and working with people you may not have been so easily introduced to without the program. While I attended PyCon, I was asked a few questions about the program application process. So here are my answers.
Q: IRC? I don't use IRC, is that a problem? A: You will have to learn to use IRC a little if chosen for the program. It is super easy and not worth deterring you from the program. When you first contact a potential mentor, email is fine too. They understand that not all new people have used IRC. They also accept related skill sets like design and documentation who don't use IRC as much as developers.
Q: Was your first task hard? A: The first task is supposed to just get you into the code. See if you can get the code running on your computer and poke around to figure out how to solve something simple. My first task sounded difficult, making an output json serializeable, because I didn't know what json was. It was actually just formatting commas, brackets, and parenthesis correctly so that it could be read properly. Having json outputs proved to be important in the datanommer project. Though it probably would have taken my mentor less than two minutes to do it himself, it took me an hour of reading through Google results to figure out what I was supposed to do. But I did learn something.
Q: Is the application competitive? A: Yeah. There are only so few positions per participating organization, and then multiple projects within each organization. You can make a contribution to more than one project to better your chances that the organizers and mentors will find a place for you. If you stay involved after making one contribution by helping others (without stealing their task or putting them down) and asking questions about the project, then they will want to find a spot for you. The number of positions they wanted to fill per organization was different than the positions actually filled because they cared more about getting good contributing females involved in open source than having two people interning with Fedora (or Mozilla, or other groups). Be active and do more than the minimum asked of you, then you should have no problem being competitive.