As my GNOME OPW internship comes to a close, I think about those who come after me. I hope that OpenStack continues to have places for GNOME OPW interns in the future. In support of that vision, I would like to offer some suggestions for GNOME OPW applicants to help you get the most out of your internship. Most of these suggestions I have employed myself and have been extremely happy with the results.
As you go through the process of researching the different companies offering internships and selecting a company and mentor to apply to work with, be yourself. I think outloud and I ask a lot of questions, I need to find out early which people and companies like that approach and which feel that it is inappropriate for their goals. I need to attract those who encourage me to follow my comfortable working style and the best way for me to do that is to employ that working style and be myself. Yes there are some who won’t want to work with me. There will also be some who track me down and ensure I work with them. When I do find the people who I want to work with and who want to work with me, there will be no surprises for either of us, since I was upfront about how I work.
Be honest about your time commitments and about your experiences. Part of being honest is saying what you have accomplished. Yes, we all wish we knew more than we did, that is a driving motivation for wanting to work in a technical field. Be honest identifying what Open Source Applications you do use and have used in the past. Be honest about what you have built, what you have created, what you have researched and what you have supported. Don’t over-inflate what you have done but don’t pave over it either. Diminishing your accomplishments actually creates detrimental energy for all of us. So be honest, and state what you have done.
Ask questions. One of my best tools for learning is to identify myself as an intern. During my intership that was my standard line, “Hello I am an intern and I am just learning. I would like to know more about X. Do you have some time or can you suggest a direction for a newcomer to get more familiar with X?” People like interns, at least the people I choose to work with like interns. The title of intern, for me, indicates a willingness to learn. I use that as a way of introducing myself and have met a lot of really supportive people as a result. Sometimes if the person I am speaking with has time, they will ask me questions about the internship and about the GNOME OPW program. Frequently this has led to statements from the person I am talking to that they are glad that there are more women coming into the field. This does make me feel good. So ask questions, and find the company and the mentors that are happy to get a question from an intern.
Communicate Your Status
I used a number of tools to communicate my status. Irc and gists are my favourite. Here is an early gist I composed as a combination whiteboard and note gatherer. I used the titles of the files to organize the output I copied from my terminal, the url to the bug report and some notes about what I tried and the obstacles I encountered. Putting my thoughts in a place that allows me to organize them and also share the url with my mentor or with others, really helped me to communicate my status on a regular basis so my mentor knew what I was doing.
Find a Group that Welcomes You
It doesn’t take much to say “Hello”. As you research the different companies offering internships join their irc channel and introduce yourself. I suggest something like, “Hello, I am considering applying to your company for an internship through GNOME OPW. I wanted to say Hello.” and then see what kind of response you get. Some people might not know what GNOME OPW is and may invite you to share a link to the GNOME OPW page in which case you may have just started a conversation. Try a few different organizations. Find the one that suits you best. Personally I am really impressed with the organizations that have members that take the time to return a friendly “Hello”. Our OpenStack channel for mentor/intern conversation is irc.freenode.org #openstack-opw, please do drop by and say hello.
Have a Goal
Have a goal for yourself that is larger than the internship. It doesn’t matter what your goal is but having one helps you to have your own personal perspective on what the internship means to you. It can help you when you encounter obstacles (which you will) and guide you if you need to make a decision and possibly change direction during your internship. Have a goal and clearly state it to your potential mentor. Your mentor can help you achieve your personal goal, but only if they know about it.
Meet As Many People As You Can
Meet people in the GNOME OPW program, meet people in the organization you apply to and meet people in other organizations that have internships. During the early weeks of my internship I created an IRC channel (irc.freenode.org #openstack-opw) for mentors, interns and mentors-at-large (supportive folks who weren’t a direct mentor but offered lots of support and guidance to all of us as the program proceeded). As I met new people, I invited them into the channel including two mentors with GNOME OPW that don’t work with OpenStack. There are many ways to collaborate with people and with organizations. Encouraging communication between companies with a shared experience (GNOME OPW) can be really helpful for the larger goal of continuing to ensure there is a strong base of support for future interns.
Complete the Patch Submission Requirement
Your application will not be considered without it. Last round, 1/3 of applicants did not submit a patch thereby excluding themselves before they could even be considered. It is possible to submit a patch on short notice, but submit a patch. Your application won’t be considered without it.
There will be times of frustration and times of great pride. Allow yourself to experience both. Have fun while you work. Bring a sense of enjoyment with you and you will find others who do the same.
This concludes the points I wanted to convey to future internship applicants.
Since this is going to be one of my final posts as intern I need to do some acknowledging.
I would like to say a huge thank you to my mentor, Iccha Sethi. I will be the first to admit that I am not the easiest person to lead and Iccha worked with me all the way through the application process, getting me set up with a development environment and submitting my patches. She listened, heard what was important to me, worked with me when I fell down and celebrated my accomplishments with me. Thank you Iccha!
I am so glad I had peers working through my internship, and I am so glad they were Laura Alves and Victoria Martinez de la Cruz. I appreciate your kindness, your determination and am proud of all you have achieved in your internship. I look forward to continue working with you both.
This program never would have come together if not for the hard work of Anne Gentle and Stefano Maffulli (otherwise known as reed), thanks so much for everything you have done for me both personally and as an intern with the GNOME OPW program.
Anne and Julie Pichon were mentors in the program and I thank you for both your help and support. It has been truly wonderful to work with so many intelligent creative women. Thank you for all that you do.
Thank you Marina Zhurakhinskaya. I am so glad you and Karen put so much energy into making this program work. It has been my pleasure to work with you.
I would also like to acknowledge some of the people who helped me along the way: markmc, russellb, pabelanger, jog0, bcwaldon, ewindisch, pleia2, flaper87, marktraceur, jfuerth, samanah, mordred, jeblair, fungi, clarkb, and zaro. Thank you so much for just being you, for helping when you could and providing support and guidance. I have enjoyed working with you all so much over the internship. Thank you.
Now for the good news. I get to keep working with you.
I have accepted at a position with a company allowing me to continue working on OpenStack. I plan to start with eNovance next week. I am looking forward to my new job and am thrilled that it means I get to keep working with all of you on OpenStack.
Thank you so much for all of your support!