Summer of Outreachy…yayyy!

Okay, so let’s start from the start. I quit my job(which I loved by the way) as a Ruby/Rails developer a few months back because I felt I had reached a point where I wasn’t learning anything new. I am a learning-driven creature and slowly began realising that all motivation to go to work was slowly, but surely, fading away and inspiration in my daily life was constantly missing. Deadlines were beginning to supersede learning at every turn. And it wasn’t like I wasn’t meeting the deadlines, I was in fact quite accustomed to the drill. But I was definitely giving less attention to the code I was delivering, a lot less than I would otherwise do and was being uncharacteristically careless about a lot of stuff. And it started making me really sad, this being-out-of-my-element for no apparent reason. The thought of leaving was scary, but I felt that if I was constantly unhappy and dissatisfied, something was definitely wrong. So, much to the chagrin of my employers, and in fact my own(I am still not sure why I left except that I had an overbearing sense of unhappiness all the time), I decided to give myself a break. Mostly to break the routine and figure out what I really wanted to do. And of course, to learn.

Source: Google Image Search, Logo Credits: CC-BY-SA — artists: Marie Nordin, Máirín Duffy, Text Superimposition: author

I had participated in an Outreachy* chat on twitter the previous month to learn about projects covering my domain and skill set, which I had completely forgotten about, but was reminded of when I saw a friend’s(who’s an Outreachy alum) tweet about applications for the latest round being open. I was suddenly inspired to give it a shot, than just play imaginary scenarios in my head, where I was actually an intern and contributing to an open source project of my choice. Three days into my break, and actually on a vacation far from my home city, I zeroed in on a project that both inspired me, and provided a good nurturing ground for my skill set(the WikiEduDashboard**, under the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wiki Education Foundation). I started setting up the project locally, looking for approachable issues, hanging out on the IRC channel and contacting mentors regarding issues I was facing. That most of the documentation was extremely lucid and the community was most welcoming and supportive was definitely the cherry on top. My first pull request got merged on the day I returned from my vacation. I was over the moon(my first ever open-source contribution!!) and it got me motivated to contribute more. It also provided a testing ground for my knowledge. I was really glad to contribute on more issues(even uncovered a bug or two), filled out my application and happily continued staying in touch with my mentor and contributing in whatever capacity I could after the application deadline.

What surprised me most was that the feeling of purpose I had been missing only a month ago was back. I was in full form and enjoying the work I was doing, paying attention to detail and learning something new everyday. I didn’t know how it came to be, but personally, it was a very good sign for me.

I took the month long period between the deadline and result announcement date to brush up on a few skills, mainly Javascript and the front-end, where I always felt I lacked an edge(yes, I can’t sit idle!). I also took the opportunity to tutor an underprivileged girl from my neighbourhood in Computers for her open-school class 12 exams. She had sought my help earlier as well, but I had been unable to provide much support due to my work schedule. Turned out, there was a big challenge waiting for me there, the medium of study being the Hindi language. I learned many a Hindi term for computer terms we us every day, and tons of new features spanning the whole MS Office suite, that I never knew existed :P. We’ll be looking for a data entry or computer applications based job for her once the results are out!

Coming back to the Outreachy process, I had been trying so hard not to think about my selection, that I actually completely forgot to check at the time the results were announced. I was alerted by a tweet from my mentor on the WikiEduDashboard project, whom I follow on Twitter. With bated breath I scrolled down to my Organization’s selected applicants and was elated to find my name there. The next one or two hours were a complete blur, tweeting, thanking my mentors, reading welcome emails and rejoicing with my parents basically. I was going to be an Outreachy intern!

I am now overjoyed just thinking about how my unplanned and undecided break has found such an amazing direction and am supremely excited to be collaborating with my mentors and other selected interns on this project. Also, even more about making more open source contributions. I have already started looking at more projects where I can be helpful, and I know in my heart of hearts, this is the start of something great. Yayyy.

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*Outreachy: Outreachy (previously the Free and Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women) is a program that organizes three-month paid remote internships with free and open source projects for people who are typically underrepresented in those projects. Internships are offered to these participants across a wide range of skills on a number of open source projects. Find out more here.

**WikiEduDashboard: The WikiEdDashboard is a Ruby on Rails/React.js based web app that supports the organization and management of assignments, courses and events for groups of Wikipedia users who are working to contribute on a common Wikipedia project. Find out more about the project and contributing on the project’s Github page.