How Open Source contributions helped me?

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I said Contributing to OSS is awesome. You might be wondering why?

I wanted to write this article to share my experience with others. I hope it will show you that contributing to open-source projects is easier than you think.

My first contribution to open source was very small:

https://github.com/harshmaur/react-input-error-validation/pull/3

On June’17, I got my first-ever pull request merged into an open-source project. That is not a big contribution though. Its a tiny one, adding a link in README.md

I got over one of the biggest hurdles in open source: The first contribution.

There’s so much you need to learn about to contribute to open source, and it can be daunting, but it’s seriously rewarding and there are several reasons why it’s been so great for me.

Why should you contribute to OSS?

You’ve probably heard that contributing to is a good use of your time as a developer. But in case you aren’t yet convinced, here are a few reasons to consider:

Reason#1: Giving back to the community

Contributing to the open-source project gives you an opportunity to volunteer your time in improving the software which you use. This way you will get to learn lots of amazing stuff from awesome people.

If you’re a user of open-source, you are not a customer, you are a collaborator. You have a responsibility to do your part to make it better

Reason #2: Lots of learning

When you do a project by yourself there is no one to review your code, there’s no way you can know what mistakes you have done. With an open source project, hundreds of thousands of people may use the code you write. So there’s some extra pressure to write clean, reusable code.

I have learned so many valuable skills from my time using and contributing to open source projects. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a pull request to another project or creating my own it’s been an amazing learning experience. I’ve learned different methods/styles of structuring code and files to enhance readability or maintainability, JavaScript APIs I didn’t know existed, etc.

Reason #3: It helps you get a job

Really? How?

Yes, you are right. Many of the companies now look for open source contributions in your resume.

There are some people you may have heard of who got their jobs this way: Dan Abramov, Andrew Clark, Sebastian McKenzie. You really don’t have to do big in open source to get noticed. It’s cool right? Certainly getting a job was not the reason these developers got into open source in the first place.

Reason #4: Friends

Lots of conversations that start on GitHub turns into friendship. This is what happened to me while I’m contributing to preact-cli. I made friends with amazing people like Jason Miller, Luke Edwards, Prateek. It gets really fun when you meet these awesome people in real life. Friends make open source fun.

I experienced this when I got a chance to meet Andrew Clark in person. Before to that, I was scared to talk to him. But he is so friendly and so humble down to earth.

Reason #5: Helping others

One of the most rewarding things is when someone says something like: “This is amazing! thank you so much” “This saved so much time”, it makes the owners/maintainers & contributors of that project really happy.

If you feel some project saved your time, go ahead and thank the author by opening an issue. That makes anyone super happy. 😄

Conclusion

If you haven’t contributed to open source before, I would recommend you give it a try. You will enjoy it for sure and it’s fun, it’s rewarding. 😄

See you on Twitter and GitHub!