Open source needs you!

While there are probably as many avenues into open source as there are open source contributors, two interesting programs are gearing up in March 2016 and I want to draw your attention to them. These both offer routes for new contributors who’d like to be paid, as well as opportunities for people and communities interested in mentoring.


Outreachy helps people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software get involved. We provide a supportive community for beginning to contribute any time throughout the year and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations.

Currently, internships are open internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Additionally, they are open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. We are planning to expand the program to more participants from underrepresented backgrounds in the future.

Applications for the program are now open and the deadline for applying is March 22, 2016. Free and open source software organizations and supporting companies are invited to express interest in sponsoring the program this round by March 22.

Read more about Outreachy and get application/sponsoship information on the Outreachy website. One thing that I think is really nice about Outreachy is that it is an internship that is not limited to students and recent graduates but instead focuses on underrepresented communities. I’ve never participated, but students and mentors alike have told me that it is a great program that fosters a deeper mentoring connection than many similar programs. I particularly love how communities around Outreachy really go out of their way to help the interns network and get access to job opportunities.

On a personal note, the Python Software Foundation currently has money that could be earmarked for Outreachy but insufficient mentorship available to sponsor an Outreachy intern. If you’re an experienced mentor and Python contributor, or willing to volunteer as an administrator who could try to entice and coordinate such people, please drop me a line at terri(at) and I’ll try to get you connected to the right folk.

Google Summer of Code

GSoC2016Logo: a sun containing the characters "</>" with the words "Google Summer of Code" beside it

11 years, 103 countries, 515 open source organizations, 11,000 students.
Over 50 million lines of code.

Spend your summer break writing code and learning about open source development while earning money! Accepted students work with a mentor and become a part of the open source community. Many become lifetime open source developers! The 2016 student application window is March 14th to 25th.

Google Summer of Code is open to post-secondary students, age 18 and older in most countries.

You can read more about it on the Google Summer of Code website. It’s a pretty neat program: Google chooses a set of open source organizations to participate each year (2016’s orgs should be chosen by the time this post goes up!), then those organizations in turn get slots and choose students who they’re willing to mentor. Google pays the students, the open source groups provide the mentoring, and the students provide code and fresh ideas.

I’ve been involved with GSoC for a number of years, as a mentor for GNU Mailman, I did a few years as a mentor and administrator for Systers (a women in computing organization; I no longer mentor for them because the time commitment wasn’t possible), and the past few years I’ve been the organization administrator for the Python Software Foundation. It’s a great program that has really had a huge impact on the open source communities who participate — I’m particularly proud of one of my students with Mailman who went on to become one of our more active core contributors.

Interested in participating as a student?

If you haven’t participated in the program, you may not know that the largest group of applicants are young men from India, in part because many Indian colleges actively encourage their students to apply. So if you’re someone who is not a young man from India, you’ll be a minority in this context! Many open source projects are especially eager to talk to students in other time zones (sometimes there are mentors who go idle because no students are available to work to their schedules!) and with different academic backgrounds, so this can be a chance to really stand out.

Here on the Geek Feminism Blog, we’ve talked about GSoC quite a few times. Here’s two posts that might be useful to you:

In my role as Python org admin, there are two questions I hear more than any others, so they’re part of our FAQ. Since they might be useful to others, here are some links:

We need mentors too!

Both Outreachy and GSoC groups are actively recruiting mentors right now. If you’re involved with a open source project that’s participating and willing to spend some mentoring time, these are both structured programs that can be great ways to give back to your open source community.

If your project isn’t contributing, there’s still time to sign yourselves up for Outreachy! And although GSoC mentoring organization applications have closed, there may still be opportunities for new mentors who are willing to learn a new project or participate as a “sub org” under the umbrella of a larger organization.

Not in a position to mentor? Cheer on the students, advertise the program, or use this as an excuse to learn a new project and follow along with the incoming students as they learn!