Three cheers for Outreachy!

Outreachy’s goal is to encourage more people to get involved with FOSS – and I think they’ve succeeded in my case! I’ve always identified with the ethos and ideology of FOSS, have always wanted to contribute, but was previously too intimidated to get involved. Plus, lets be honest – starting out is always one of the most difficult parts, starting out without a mentor is harder, and starting out without a mentor while simultaneously juggling a day job even more so.

While I can’t say that Outreachy inspired my interest in FOSS (I’ve always been interested), they’ve provided a clearer and easier path to get involved by alleviating the other two issues – mentors and finances. Having the opportunity to get paid to work on FOSS full-time while being guided by experienced FOSS contributors has been absolutely fantastic, and has helped me get over the starting-out hump. Thank you, Marina and everyone else behind Outreachy. 🙂

So…. what next?

I’m still unsure as to where I’ll go from here with regards to FOSS. Being able to continue working on FOSS (and with Wikimedia) as a job would be amazing. Wikimedia offers Individual Engagement Grants for people who want to undertake a project to improve various aspects of it, so I’ve submitted a proposal for the next IEG round. It’s a bit of a far-reaching goal – I’m not a long-time contributor and I haven’t received too many endorsements on my proposal yet – but it’s a goal all the same. 🙂

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Three cheers for Outreachy!

Guide: Applying to Wikimedia for Outreachy/GSoC

Applications for this round’s GSoC and Outreachy programmes are in full swing, with the associated flurry of activity. Yay, the community grows! 😀

I did my Outreachy project with Wikimedia, which turned out to be an excellent choice for me. IMO, working on a project that you actually use in your personal time is a huge advantage – you’re constantly motivated by seeing the improvements you make being used by other people… and yourself.

That being said, I won’t lie, the application process for Wikimedia is a bit more complicated than that of some other organizations (albeit very thoroughly documented). There are several additional requirements, and if you are new to everything it might feel slightly overwhelming. But do not worry! This little guide is for you, from one newbie to another. 🙂

(Disclaimer: This is a rough guide based on my personal experiences in the Dec ’15 – Mar ’16 Outreachy round, and do not reflect the views of Wikimedia Foundation. Also, there may be differences with GSoC that I am not aware of, but AFAIK the two have an extremely similar application process. Also, this is not intended to be an exhaustive guide, but rather to highlight the Wikimedia-specific requirements that are not covered much in the GSoC/Outreachy guidelines.)

Getting started

Essential reading: Life of a successful project. You will be referring to this page multiple times during the process of your application and internship.

Phabricator is the lifeblood of technical collaboration in Wikimedia. Everything on Phabricator is a ‘task’ – the project task you pick, the proposal task you will make, the reports you will write later on. Tasks are associated with project boards which are essentially ‘groups’ of tasks – for instance, this is the GSoC 2016 board.

Finding a project and mentors

There are 2 main options for finding your project:

The “Featured project ideas” column on the GSoC or Outreachy project board contains the project tasks that are ready for you to choose – they have been approved by the community and have 2 mentors ready for it. This is the easier route.

Another option is to scour Possible-Tech-Projects for projects that may or may not be ‘ready’ yet. This is a viable option but involves more effort and risk – you will also be responsible for finding your own 2 mentors (yes, 2 are usually required by Wikimedia, the lead mentor and a co-mentor). This is the route I took, because there was a particular project that I really wanted to do that was not featured yet.

Complete your microtask

This step is similar with Outreachy or GSoC’s requirements and varies widely depending on the project you chose, so there isn’t much to elaborate on.

Drafting your proposal

GSoC/Outreachy has its own application template, but your Wikimedia proposal is a separate requirement. Create a Phabricator task – this will be your proposal task – and follow the template stated. Some of the questions will overlap with your GSoC/Outreachy application, copy/pasting between the two is okay. Associate your proposal task with the project task.

As far as I know, only one intern can be accepted for one project. The selection process is described here, along with the criteria used for selection. From my observation, the thoroughness and quality of your proposal matters a lot, so it is worth putting some thought and time into a good proposal. You also need to have fulfilled programme-specific requirements, such as not having too heavy a university load during the 3 months of the internship for Outreachy.

By the application deadline, your proposal should be mostly complete and residing in the ‘Proposals Submitted’ column of your project board and you should have at least one microtask completed.

Selection

The mentors for each project task will select their preferred candidate and there will be a discussion with the organization admins to determine the selections. However, GSoC or Outreachy admins also have the right to reject applicants who do not fulfill various programme-specific requirements.

Community bonding period

Hooray, you got accepted! Congratulations. There will be a community bonding period during the week prior to the start of your internship; more on that here. The community bonding period is fairly time-consuming, so you would ideally not have full-time commitments during that week as well.

 

All the best folks!

Guide: Applying to Wikimedia for Outreachy/GSoC