2019 Internship Schedule Changes

Date: July 24, 2019

Outreachy is changing our schedule this round. The schedule changes impact applicants, mentors, and coordinators in the December 2019 to March 2020 round. Please read this post carefully!

Hammer smashing clock CC-BY 2.0 Marco Verch

Photo CC BY 2.0 Marco Verch

Impact for applicants

Outreachy is splitting our application process into two distinct periods: the initial application period and the contribution period.

During the initial application period, applicants submit an eligibility form and essay questions (an initial application). During the contribution period, accepted applicants contact mentors and complete project tasks (contributions).

Important dates for applicants:
Aug. 20, 2019 at 4pm UTCInitial applications open
Sept. 9, 2019, 4 p.m. UTC#OutreachyChat on Twitter
Sept. 24, 2019 at 4pm UTCInitial application deadline
Sept. 24, 2019Project list finalized
Oct. 1, 2019 to Nov. 5, 2019Contribute to projects
Nov. 5, 2019
at 4pm UTC
Final application deadline
Nov. 26, 2019 at 4pm UTCAccepted interns announced
Dec. 3, 2019
to March 3, 2020
Internships period

The biggest change is that initial applications are due sooner, before the contribution period starts. Only applicants who have an approved initial application will move onto the contribution period.

If you want to apply to Outreachy, we encourage you read our Applicant Guide. The Applicant Guide provides the most up-to-date description of our application process. The Applicant Guide includes tips for getting your initial application accepted.

The initial application system opens on Aug. 20, 2019 at 4pm UTC. The deadline for initial applications is Sept. 24, 2019 at 4pm UTC. We encourage you to submit your initial application early.

If your application is rejected due to not meeting our eligibility rules, you will be notified immediately on the initial application results page. If your application is rejected due to not meeting our time commitment rules, you will also be notified immediately on the initial application results page.

All other applications will be reviewed by Outreachy organizers. You may get an email asking you to clarify your essay or provide more information about your time commitments. Otherwise, you won't hear from Outreachy organizers until the contribution period opens.

Everyone who has an accepted initial application will receive an email. You'll be emailed when the contribution period starts on Oct. 1, 2019 at 4pm UTC. During the contribution period, you'll get in contact with mentors and work on project tasks (contributions).

All project details, including how to get in contact with a mentor, will only be visible to people with an approved initial application. Project details will only be visible after Oct. 1, 2019 at 4pm UTC. This means that all applicants start making contributions at the same time, which is a change from previous rounds.

Another change is that the contribution period is only five weeks. In prior rounds, the contribution period was six weeks.

All projects have the same deadline for final applications (Nov. 5, 2019 at 4pm UTC). In previous rounds, some projects had a late deadline. That's no longer true.

Impact for mentors and coordinators

The goal of the schedule changes is to ensure that the project list is finalized before the contribution period opens. This is a change from previous rounds. We need help from both coordinators and mentors to make this happen.

Important dates for mentors and coordinators:
July 25, 2019 at 4pm UTCCommunity sign up opens
Sept. 5, 2019 at 4pm UTCDeadline for community sign up
Sept. 9, 2019, 4 p.m. UTC#OutreachyChat on Twitter
Sept. 24, 2019 at 4pm UTCMentor project submission deadline
Oct. 1, 2019Contribution period begins
Nov. 5, 2019 at 4pm UTCFinal application deadline
Nov. 14, 2019Intern selection deadline
Nov. 19, 2019Outreachy organizers finalize intern selections
Nov. 26, 2019 at 4pm UTCInterns are publicly announced on the alums page
Dec. 3, 2019
to March 3, 2020
Internships period

Mentors who participated in Outreachy before will notice there's a change to when applicants will start making contributions. All approved applicants will start making contributions at the same time. Applicants will start contacting you when contribution period opens on Oct. 1, 2019 at 4pm UTC.

Project details are hidden from applicants until the contribution period starts. However, your project title and project skills will still be visible on the project list page. Please use that page to promote your community's participation in Outreachy! Promoting your project's participation means more people may decide to submit an initial application.

Unlike previous rounds, all projects have the same contribution and final application deadline. There are no "on-time" or "late" projects any more.

You can close your project to new applicants at any time during the contribution period. The only impact that has is moving your project listing to a 'Closed projects' section on the project list page. This helps applicants to focus on projects with few applicants. Applicants can still record contributions and make final applications until the final application deadline at Nov. 5, 2019 at 4pm UTC.

Impact on promotional materials

In order to ensure applicants are aware of the new initial application deadlines, we've updated our promotional materials. We used to list the application period as "February to March" for the May internships, and "September to October" as the application period for the December internships. However, the initial application is due before March and October.

We're concerned people will try to apply too late, and miss the initial application deadline. So we've updated our promotional materials to clarify that the initial application period is February and September.

You can find the latest promotional materials on our promotion page. In particular, we've updated our:

If you would like to help us improve the design of our promotional materials, improve our current translations, or translate our promotional materials to additional languages, you can open a GitHub issue to provide updated svg and pdf files.

Why are we making these changes?

There are several reasons for making changes to our schedule.

Separating out the initial application period from the contribution period helps Outreachy organizers. We have a small team of people who review over one thousand initial applications each round. If we focus on reviewing applications as fast as possible, people who have questions about how to pick a project or how to make a contribution don't get help. If we stop to answer questions about making project contributions, applicants with pending initial applications send us worried emails.

We also hope the changes will improve the experience for applicants. In past rounds, the project list wasn't finalized before the contribution period started. Applicants who applied the first week would only see about 25% of the total projects. If an applicant didn't find a project they were interested in, that may have caused them to not continue applying. We hope that having the full project list at the start of the contribution period will engage more applicants.

In past rounds, we also allowed applicants to submit an initial application during the contribution period. Reviewing initial applications takes up to 10 business days. While waiting to hear about their initial application results, many applicants were worried about losing time to make contributions. Some applicants were approved during the last two weeks, which may not have given them enough time to make a contribution.

We decided to do a statistical analysis on the December 2018 round. We used linear regression to see if the date an applicant submitted their initial application had an impact on whether they recorded a contribution. This analysis controlled for many factors, including education, prior experience with free software, gender identity, race, and other factors.

Here is the impact of when the initial application is approved during the six week contribution period:

In previous rounds, week 4 is when the full project list is available. During week 1, very few project listings were available (typically 25% of the total number of projects). Having an initial application approved during the last week of the contribution period means there's not enough time to make a contribution. Thus, we wanted to try to provide the same experience for all applicants by having them start a contribution at the same time.

In previous rounds, projects could have an 'on-time' or 'late' deadline for the final application. The final application deadline for late projects was delayed by one week. We heard that having different deadlines for final applications was confusing to applicants. Based on those conversations, we wanted all projects to have the same final application deadline.

We also asked mentors whether the contribution period was too short or too long. We heard many stories of mentors being overwhelmed if they worked with applicants for the full six weeks. Some mentors were so overloaded they would stop responding to new applicants. Some mentors even put off listing their project until the week 4 mentor project submission deadline! We also heard stories from mentors who needed extra time for applicants to make complex contributions. The mentors were concerned they wouldn't be able to accurately judge applicant skills if the contribution period was shorter than four weeks.

Based on feedback from applicants and mentors with different needs, we made a compromise. We decided to shorten the contribution period from six weeks to five weeks. All projects would be open to contributions at the same time. All projects would have the same final application deadline. Projects could close to new applicants at any time during the application period, hopefully providing relief to overloaded mentors.

We hope this change is a good experience for both mentors and applicants. Based on how this round goes, we may make further schedule changes next round. If you want to give us feedback on this change after the contribution period is over on Nov. 5, 2019 please contact us.

How can I help Outreachy?

Please promote the new internship round to your networks! You can use resources on the updated promotion page to print posters, send emails, or tweet about Outreachy.

You can also sign up to mentor or coordinate for Outreachy. We ask that Outreachy applicants don't sign up to be mentors or coordinators. If you're a contributor to a free software community, you can read our documentation about how communities can sign up to participate.

Outreachy is currently seeking for sponsors for the next round. Please read more about Outreachy sponsorship.