2020-07: Outreachy Progress

Summary:

  • Connected May 2020 interns to volunteers for informal career chats
  • Planned December 2020 internship round dates
  • Supported intern through difficult mentor situation
  • Worked with mentors and community coordinator during difficult situation with intern
  • Ran Outreachy intern Zulip chats with Anna e so

Admin

December 2020 internship round dates

Picking internship round dates is always hard. We want to ensure that the May round aligns with Google Summer of Code dates, and that the December round supports university students in Brazil.

I’ve been working with Anna e so to choose dates for the December 2020 internship round. Most Brazilian students in public universities have shifted school terms due to COVID-19. The Brazilian summer break is drastically shortened. I will follow up with recommendations to the Outreachy PLC in the next week.

Another wrinkle in the December 2020 round is challenges to the Software Freedom Conservancy staff. December is a difficult time for them, since they have everyone helping out with audit paperwork. That means processing tax forms, payment forms, and initial stipend payment to Outreachy interns adds to the stress.

A final challenge is working around bank holidays. We don’t want to promise Outreachy interns that payment will be initiated by a date that’s close to a bank holiday.

I proposed a modified schedule to Conservancy staff that would move the internship round start date into November. They ultimately decided not to go with the modified schedule.

Informal Career Chats

For the last two or three rounds, we have encouraged Outreachy interns to have “informal career chats” with open source contributors.

Volunteer interviewees for informal chats are Outreachy mentors, coordinators, alums, and employees of Outreachy sponsors who are paid to work on open source as part of their job. A new page on the Outreachy website lists volunteers who are willing to have informal career chats with Outreachy interns.

During the informal career chats, we encourage volunteers to talk about how open source helped their career, and/or how they got a paid job working on open source. We encourage interns to talk about their career goals and ask questions of the volunteers.

The goal is to give Outreachy interns support as they work on expanding their network. Having a list of questions to ask, and a list of volunteers who are willing to talk to them can help ease anxiety.

Documentation

Continued to document Outreachy organizer tasks in public organizer manual. Continued to add email templates to the private Outreachy organizer GitLab repo. Committed a bunch of old files to the private Outreachy organizer GitLab repo.

Development

Created a page on the Outreachy website to list the contact information of volunteers for informal career chats. It needed careful code to only display the page to interns in good standing, their mentors (who could help them pick people to talk to), and approved coordinators (who may help interns select who to talk to if their mentor is unavailable).

I used test-driven development for this page. I wrote several tests to cover everyone who should not be able to see the page, and everyone who should. The tests took the majority of the time to complete (unsurprising) but it made me confident the code I wrote was correct. I think I’ll continue doing this in the future when it makes sense.

Also migrated a few pages to Django from the Wagtail CMS. I’m really trying to get the pages migrated soon, so that we can update Django before initial applications opens and the website gets a lot more traffic.

Finances/Sponsorship

This is the first round we reached out to sponsors to ask if they had volunteers who could talk to Outreachy interns. We wanted to ensure that the focus of these informal career chats was careers in open source. Therefore, we asked sponsors to only provide contact info for volunteers who are employed to contribute to open source.

Some sponsors seemed pleased. One said, “This is quite an offer.” Overall, 6 out of 8 contacted sponsors had employees volunteer for the informal career chats. It will be interesting to see in our longitudinal study in the following years if this has an impact on the number of May 2020 interns who find paid roles working on open source.

Overall, based on sponsor enthusiasm, I think we should advertise this as an Outreachy sponsor perk.

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