Scaling Up your Career Through Open-Source Contributions
6 min read
Learning Programming has never been easy. However, it is believed that one of the best ways to get better at it, is through open source contributions. As a techie, you would have heard a lot about Open-source software either on a blog post, a Twitter space or a random tweet.
Starting as a beginner in the tech ecosystem, want to doubt your ability to take up certain responsibilities such as, contributing to other people's projects and collaborating with other developers, hence the cold feet towards contributing to Open source software but you don't have to fear because contributing to Open-source isn't just about coding and deploying projects, contributing to open source projects is a means to collaborate and grow your skillset with a diverse community.
Taking about scaling up your career through open source contributions is the same as saying the benefit(s) of contributing to open source projects in your career. Open-source communities create a great platform for beginners to take their careers to the next level by contributing to actual projects. Let's take a walk through how you can optimise the opportunity as a beginner to build a great career path for yourself through open source contributions.
What is Open-Source Software (OSS)?
Simply put, Open-source software is a project that gives users free access to the source code to edit, fix bugs, learn, enhance the source code for their own purposes. A practical example is using an interior deco inspiration on Pinterest to decorate your apartment whenever you are bored(joking)
You can style your apartment according to the Pinterest inspiration, you can as well make some slight changes or add to the decoration and still get a very beautiful room.
You can use the interior style on Pinterest because the image and steps are made open and free to access, this is how open-source software works.
The benefit of Open source: What can Open Source do for you?
Most times we ask why before we ask how. You ask questions like, why should I contribute to Open-source software? As a developer or designer or even as a technical writer contributing to open source can be beneficial in numerous ways. some of which are;
Learning and Practical Experience
Contributing to the open-source project have a way of adding to your growth, with open-source you have the opportunity to contribute to the actual project with this you get to do a lot of research and learn more about the software/project you want to contribute to, this, in turn, will widen your knowledge about the software.
There are times when you do not have any idea of the software used hence to run it locally you will have to learn about the software and study the project exclusively. It is not compulsory you know everything about the project for a start but it is necessary for you to understand the ground basics of the project to contribute to it and by doing this you are learning more. It enhances your technical knowledge and You will see yourself playing around with different software.
Building your personal Brand/reputation
Open source projects give you a great start as a beginner. It builds your reputation among the community creating a niche that people will know you for. You hear phrases like "open-source fangirl" "open-source fanboy". It helps you to be more accountable, deliberate and intentional about things.
Contributing to open-source gives you a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. Have you gotten your first pull request merged? That feeling is divine. You feel so proud to be part of something real and big.
This benefit is not technical but it is very important. It gives you the opportunity to communicate with people and work with different teams giving you a collaborative environment. Contributing to open source gives you the opportunity to bring all your ideas into reality. You meet new people and people of diversity. I have widened my horizon in making friends in all open-source communities I belong to and to me, it is not just about networking and meeting people it is family and home.
Great Job Prospect
This particular benefit is juicy. One thing that is certain to get when you contribute to an open-source project is that you get greater job prospects even when you do not ask for it, it will just come your way. The job might not come right away but it will definitely come because contributing to open source is a job already. When you contribute to open-source projects and you are consistent and deliberate about it, opportunities will come to you.
Contributing to open-source provides you with all the experience you need. Like;
Good Communication Skill
Writing and Documentation Skill
Problem Solving Skill
Community Management Skill
Now let's talk about some developers who have scaled up their Careers through Open source Contributions.
You can check out:
on how open source has helped them land their first technical job.
At Open-source Conference (oscafest 2020) one panellist Edidiong Asikpo was asked how she got her job at Interswitch she talked about how open source has helped her in securing her position at Interswitch She mentioned that after her interview, she was discussing with the manager and she mentioned an API is just contributed to before going for her interview that day and the manager said that is exactly what they are looking for and like that she got the job. You can check out her Twitter page here
Another person I'd like to take about is Ruth. Ruth was a microbiology student who is now doing amazing things in the tech space and open source community. Her journey began last year. she went from a total beginner to an open-source contributor and then to a maintainer and a GitHub star. Her story would not be complete without her endless and selfless contribution to the open-source community and OSS. You can check her out on Twitter here
Anita is another amazing folk doing awesome stuff in the open-source community. She is also like Ruth, Anita moved from a total beginner to an open-source contributor and then to a community manager and she is doing very well with her career. She is an open-source Evangelist. She recently joined kyverno as an Advocate. You can check out her Twitter page here
Using myself as an example is not a bad idea too. I started my journey in tech as a total beginner. I didn't start my open source journey until this year because at first, I was as scared to take the first step and then I realized there is a lot I could do to the community apart from coding and from that moment I started up till now, I have become Open source fangirl. I have transitioned from just a contributor to community manager and still moving higher.
My technical knowledge has increased and I have a lot of experience collaborating with other developers. You can check me out on my Twitter page here
Contributing to open-source projects might be looking scary as it was to me when I started but don't sweat. It is going to be fine and you are going to see your career scaling up when you start contributing. What are you waiting for? Starting contributing Today!.
I hope you find the article helpful in making that decision.