This career advice to help open source software interns better use their apprenticeships is a compilation of blog posts, emails, and other docs written by Changeset Consulting founder Sumana Harihareswara as advice for Google Summer of Code & Outreach Program for Women interns and alumni. It was last substantially updated in 2014, when it was archived.
We often hang out in IRC (internet relay chat) in the #opw channel on the GNOME IRC network. More information about that: https://wiki.gnome.org/Community/GettingInTouch/IRC . We also share selected meeting logs at https://wiki.gnome.org/OutreachProgramForWomen/Meetings . Some explanation of under what circumstances we try to use IRC versus mailing lists versus the wiki.
Sometimes I sent a note to the current interns (address elided) plus the mentors (address elided), and sometimes I sent my notes to the current interns, the mentors, AND the alumnae (address elided). Marina liked for me to always cc the mentor list so the mentors knew what I was saying. :)
What I said to announce my first office hours, in June:
Subject: Career guidance "office hours" this week
Hi, I'm Sumana Harihareswara. I work at the Wikimedia Foundation and am a mentor in this round. And I'm your career development advisor.
I'm really interested in helping you, the OPW interns, think about your post-OPW career choices. Apply for a job? Start a business or nonprofit? Seek a grant? Go to Hacker School? Get a degree? Take some time off? If you don't know what to do after the internship ends, I want to help you think about that and decide.
So I'm holding IRC office hours where any of you can ask questions and get advice, in the channel or via private message.* The first bunch are this week:
* Right now and for the next 2.5 hours - till 21:00 UTC
* Tomorrow (Tuesday 10 June) 12:00-14:00 UTC
* Friday June 13 0:00-2:00 UTC (in North America, still Thursday June 12)
Drop in! #opw on GNOME IRC.
-- Sumana Harihareswara
* (Also I'm planning a bunch of other stuff that we talked about in the welcome meeting on May 27. One-on-one counseling, additions to https://wiki.gnome.org/OutreachProgramForWomen/Opportunities , emails about job openings, and informational presentations.)
And then I sent reminder emails to the list about 1 or 2 hours before the meeting. And then after the meeting I pasted the log of the meeting into the wiki and replied to the list, linking to the meeting notes page.
Based on one of those office hours, I blogged about resources for seeking grants and "Resources For Starting Your Own Thing" , and sent a followup note to the list called "After OPW, you can start your own business and/or get a grant" that linked to those posts and highlighted urgent deadlines. I also said - and please feel free to mention this in your own notes - "Also, my friend Rachel Chalmers http://ignitionpartners.com/team/#/team_member/rachel-chalmers/ wrote this http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/five-reasons-not-to-raise-venture-capital - she is a venture capitalist (someone who invests early money into a startup) and you're welcome to reach out to her to pitch your idea."
Around 6 weeks into the 12-week internship, I emailed the interns
Subject: your internship - tips and good/bad signs
Hi interns! You have gone past the halfway mark on your internship and congratulations.
* Check out https://wiki.gnome.org/OutreachProgramForWomen/2014/MayAugust#Accepted_Participants to see if there's another intern near you, and to know who your project's coordinator is (if your mentor goes missing, that coordinator is someone you can contact).
* Are you talking with your mentor at least twice a week, preferably several times a week, on IRC or the phone or videochat? Interns who talk to their mentors more often usually have a better experience. You can schedule them at regular times to make it easier. If you haven't heard from your mentor in more than two weeks, contact your project coordinator or Marina.
* Your fellow interns blog at http://planeteria.org/wfs/ and hang out at #opw on the GNOME IRC network - come by and swap triumphs and tears!
* Remember, you have a $500 travel allowance. Use it: https://wiki.gnome.org/OutreachProgramForWomen/TravelAllowance
* It's a good sign if you can think back each week and see how your skills have improved. Getting praise and criticism from your mentor helps you grow. If you keep waiting for feedback from your mentor (code review, for instance) and don't get as much of it as you want, it's fine for you to ask for more, or ask to get it faster.
Thank you for contributing to open source!
Near the end of the internship, I emailed the current interns and the alumni & mentors
Subject: negotiate to get better salary and benefits
Reminder: you can and should negotiate when you're getting a job offer, to increase how much money you get and how much vacation, bonuses, and other benefits you get.
http://valerieaurora.org/howto_salary/ gives you tips on how to do this. (It's by Valerie Aurora, head of the Ada Initiative.)
I only was able to arrange one just because I dropped the ball on logistics. You can see some meeting logs in the meeting logs wiki page.
Subject: "What's there to learn?" IRC session on Wednesday
We're holding a one-hour "What's There to Learn?" presentation on Wednesday, 4pm ET/1pm PT (20:00 UTC), in IRC (#opw in GNOME IRC). This is in a couple of days. https://wiki.gnome.org/OutreachProgramForWomen/Meetings has logs from the past meetings.
I haven't yet finalized who all will be presenting how engineering works at their organization, but one speaker will be from the New York Public Library's research and development department.
I'm running this to help you understand your career options better -- to understand the big picture of how software development organizations work, and what various job titles/skills mean.
Sometimes I spread the word about specific opportunities, like:
Subject: Who should apply for the Knight-Mozilla fellowship? You.
Today's the deadline to apply for the Knight-Mozilla fellowship, a paid 10-month job. If you're looking for a job starting in 2015, and "you're someone who enjoys solving problems through code," you should apply. Yes, even if you would need a visa to work in the US. Yes, even if you're a novice coder.
Includes a moving allowance! http://opennews.org/fellowships/info.html
If you have questions please email Erika Owens: firstname.lastname@example.org
Around 9 weeks into the internship I sent this to the interns + mentors:
Subject: How to talk with your mentor about your career
Hi interns! I recommend that you have a chat with one of your mentors this month to talk about next steps for your career. This can take as little as 20 minutes.
5 minutes: "What specifically did I like about this internship - what would I like to get more of?" (Think specifically: what languages, tools, people, activities, and conversations did you enjoy?)
10 minutes: "What do I want next, and what are my constraints?" (It's okay not to know! This is a good time to ask your mentor what they think you would be good at, and to ask your mentor how they got where they are.)
5 minutes: "What are my next steps?" Examples: update your resume/CV, reach out to your university career office to schedule some mock interviews, reply to people you met at conferences, blog about what kind of job you want, apply for a grant, apply to Hacker School or talk to a venture capitalist.
I am also happy to talk with you about career options. Since your mentors know you better than I do, I figure you should talk to them first -- let me know if you'd like to talk with me, either instead of or after talking with your mentors!
(And I sent some reminder followups telling them to do it. I don't know how many people did. I think this did not work very well.)
I also sent a similar mail to the mentors:
Subject: Mentors, talk about career next steps in August
This month, I recommend that you talk with your interns about their careers, and about the next steps you think they should take after the internship. Here's how I usually structure that conversation:
5 minutes: "What specifically did you like about your internship - what would you like to get more of?" (If the answer is vague, ask specifically: what languages, tools, people, activities, conversations did they enjoy?)
10 minutes: "What do you think you want next, and what are your constraints?" (This is a good time to tell them what you think they would be good at, and to quickly explain your own job history in case it's relevant. Often interns think their only choices are grad school or another job, and assume they have to stay in their own country; if so, tell them it's not true.)
5 minutes: "What are your next steps?" Examples: she needs to update her resume, reach out to her university career office to schedule some mock interviews, reply to people she met at conferences, blog about what kind of job she wants, apply to Hacker School or talk to a venture capitalist.
OPW career development advisor, mid-2014
I really don't know how many mentors actually did this, and it bothers me, and I think scheduling specific three-person conversations (you, the intern, and the mentor) for at least some of the interns would be a better way to ensure these conversations happen.
I sent a weak note to the alums list asking about people who were stalling out in their career next steps but got no response. A fresh thread would probably be good.
And I think you saw my "The continuing adventures (transitioning to volunteer)" email which I turned into a blog post.
And here are some useful and relevant blog posts that I wrote up.