2018-08-28
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Outreachy is Changing Intern Payments

Since the beginning of Outreachy's history, Outreachy interns have been paid their $5,500 internship stipend in three amounts: an initial $500 stipend, a $2,250 mid-point stipend, and a $2,750 final stipend. Today we're making changes to the payment amounts and schedules to better support interns who are financially independent. Interns will receive a bigger initial stipend, with slightly smaller midpoint and final stipends. The total internship stipend remains $5,500 USD.

Background

Originally, Outreachy's payment schedule was the same as Google Summer of Code. Interns who started their internship would receive an initial stipend of  $500 USD. In the middle of the internship, mentors would evaluate whether interns were putting in a full-time (40 hours a week) effort. Interns who were in good standing would be paid $2,250 USD. If the intern finished their internship while giving a full-time effort, they would be paid $2,750 USD.

Outreachy differs from Google Summer of Code in that we allow internships to be extended for up to five weeks. This allows us to accommodate illness, longer vacations, or other short periods of time when interns are not putting in a full-time effort. Outreachy also differs from Google Summer of Code in that we accept people who aren't students who meet our eligibility criteria.

Another difference is how Outreachy and Google Summer of Code handle intern payments. Google Summer of Code interns are sent credit cards, which are loaded with the payment amount as soon as mentor feedback is processed. Outreachy's parent fiscal sponsor, Software Freedom Conservancy, has to handle payment through a variety of methods including international bank transfer and PayPal. Tracking mentor feedback and initiating transfers to 40 different people (who are potentially on different schedules due to internship extensions) takes Outreachy organizers and Conservancy staff some time. Since Outreachy interns are contractors of Software Freedom Conservancy, interns are paid on a NET-30 basis. This means that it may take up to 30 days after Outreachy organizers receive mentor feedback for interns to receive payment.

Old Payment Schedule

Following Google Summer of Code's payment amounts and schedule was fine for Outreachy interns who didn't financially rely on the internship stipend. However, Outreachy is open to anyone over 18 who meets our eligibility rules, not just students who don't have financial concerns. Outreachy gets applicants who have just finished coding school, are switching careers, are on parental leave, or are teachers on sabbatical. Outreachy interns sometimes face financial hardship because of the Outreachy payment schedule.

The old payment schedule looked like this:
  • Dec. 4, 2018 - Internships starts
  • Jan. 7, 2019 - Interns who have started their internship will receive the $500 initial stipend
  • Jan. 15, 2019 - Mid-point feedback due
  • Feb. 15, 2019 - Interns with successful mid-point feedback will receive the $2,250 midpoint stipend
  • Mar. 4, 2019 - Internships end
  • Mar. 11, 2019 - Final feedback due
  • Apr. 11, 2019 - Interns with successful final feedback will receive the $2,750 midpoint stipend

The end result is that Outreachy interns don't get their initial payment until a month into their internship, and they don't receive their mid-point payment until the internship is almost over. Trying to stretch $500 USD over 10 weeks presents a financial hardship to some Outreachy interns, and we're taking steps to fix that.

Updated Payment Schedule

To support Outreachy interns who are financially independent, we're increasing the initial stipend from $500 USD to $1,000 USD. The midpoint payment will change from $2,250 USD to $2,000 USD. The final payment will change from $2,750 USD to $2,500 USD.

The feedback process and payment dates have changed as well. Outreachy mentors will now have to send in initial feedback on their intern two weeks into the internship. The feedback will include whether the intern has been integrating with the free software community, responding to mentor communications, and spending a full-time (40 hours a week) effort in getting up to speed on their project. The mid-point and final feedback will have the same mentor requirements as before, but midpoint feedback will be moved two weeks later.

The new payment schedule will look like this:
  • Dec. 4, 2018 - Internships starts
  • Dec. 19, 2018 - Initial feedback is due
  • Jan. 18, 2019 - Interns who have started their internship will receive the $1,000 initial stipend
  • Jan. 30, 2019 - Mid-point feedback due
  • Mar. 1, 2019 - Interns with successful mid-point feedback will receive the $2,000 midpoint stipend
  • Mar. 4, 2019 - Internships end
  • Mar. 11, 2019 - Final feedback due
  • Apr. 10, 2019 - Interns with successful final feedback will receive the $2,500 final stipend
The new payment schedule means interns will receive more money in the initial payment, although the midpoint payment is shifted two weeks later. We hope that the new payment schedule and payment amounts will encourage socioeconomic diversity in Outreachy applicants.