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Outreachy Applicant Guide

Table of Contents

What is Outreachy?
What is free software and open source?
Eligibility
Outreachy schedule
Application period overview
Initial application
Preparing for the contribution period
Finding a Mentor and an Internship Project
Making Contributions
Final application
Intern announcement


What is Outreachy?

Outreachy is a paid, remote internship program. Outreachy's goal is to support people from groups underrepresented in tech. We help newcomers to free software and open source make their first contributions.

Outreachy provides internships to work open source. People apply from all around the world. Interns work remotely, and are not required to move. Interns are paid a stipend of $5,500 USD for the three month internship. Interns have a $500 USD travel stipend to attend conferences or events.

Interns work with experienced mentors from open source communities. Outreachy internship projects may include programming, user experience, documentation, illustration, graphical design, or data science. Interns often find employment after their internship with Outreachy sponsors or in jobs that use the skills they learned during their internship.

Outreachy expressly invites applicants who are women (both cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people to apply. We also expressly invite applications who are residents and nationals of the United States of America of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. Anyone who faces systemic bias or discrimination in the technology industry of their country is invited to apply.

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What is free software and open source?

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is software that gives the user the freedom to use, copy, study, change, and improve it. We encourage you to read an introduction article about open source software.

Open source projects are built collaboratively. Open source contributors work together publicly. Working publicly creates a fun collaborative community around a project. It allows anyone to make innovative changes that reach many people.

Open source contributors work on a lot of different things! You can contribute by developing software. Or you might want to improve user experience by contributing design work. You can help with documentation, community management, marketing, identifying issues and reporting bugs, helping users, event organization, graphic design, and translations.

Sometimes people work on open source in their spare time. Many contributors are employed by companies and non-profit organizations to work on open source. That includes the companies that are sponsoring Outreachy! Experience with open source is highly valuable in the professional world. Your contributions to open source provide a public portfolio for you. Employers can see your history of public collaboration, which will give them confidence when making hiring decisions.

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Eligibility

Outreachy expressly invites applicants who are women (both cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people to apply. We also expressly invite applications who are residents and nationals of the United States of America of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. Anyone who faces systemic bias or discrimination in the technology industry of their country is invited to apply.

Outreachy Eligibility Rules

These eligibility rules apply to the December 2019 to March 2020 Outreachy internships round. Dates may change for future rounds.

Outreachy is open to applicants around the world. You will need to meet the following requirements:

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Outreachy yearly schedule

Outreachy internships run twice a year. Here is our general schedule for each year:

Important Round Dates Mid-year Internships End of year Internships
Initial applications open late January late August
Initial applications due end of February end of September
Contribution period opens March October
Final application and contributions due April November
Interns announced May November
Internships start May December
Internships end August March

December 2019 to March 2020 Outreachy internships round schedule

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

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Application period overview

There are three parts to the Outreachy application process:

Initial application period:

Contribution period:

Intern selection period:

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Initial Application

The initial application includes several sections. Some sections determine whether you meet our eligibility criteria. We also ask you to provide some additional information and essays.

You cannot save your initial application. You have to fill it out all at once. Make sure you're ready and have a stable internet connection. Don't submit your initial application at the last minute!

You should have specific information on hand before you fill out the initial application:

Essay questions

The initial application includes four essay questions:

  1. Does your learning environment have few people who share your identity or background? Please provide details. Contributing to free and open source software takes some skill. You may have already learned some basic skills through university or college classes, specialized schools, online classes, online resources, or with a mentor, friend, family member or co-worker. Does any of your learning environments have few people who share your identity or background? How did your identity or background differ from the majority of people in this learning environment? Outreachy Organizers strongly encourage you to write your personal stories. We want you to know that we won't judge your writing style, grammar or spelling.
  2. What systemic bias or discrimination have you faced while building your skills? Outreachy projects often require applicants to know some basic skills. Those skills might include programming, user experience, documentation, illustration and graphical design, or data science. You may have already learned some basic skills through university or college classes, specialized schools, online classes, online resources, or with a mentor, friend, family member or co-worker. In these settings, have you faced systemic bias or discrimination? Have you been discouraged from accessing these resources because of your identity or background? Please provide specific examples and (optionally) statistics. Outreachy Organizers strongly encourage you to write your personal stories. We want you to know that we won't judge your writing style, grammar or spelling.
  3. What systemic bias or discrimination would you face if you applied for a job in the technology industry of your country? Think about when you have applied for a job in the technology industry of your country. Do you think you have faced discrimination on the basis of your background or identity? If you have not applied for a job yet, do you think you may be discriminated against on the basis of your background or identity? Please provide specific examples and (optionally) statistics. Outreachy Organizers strongly encourage you to write your personal stories. We want you to know that we won't judge your writing style, grammar or spelling.
  4. What barriers or concerns have kept you from contributing to free and open source software? Please provide specific examples. Outreachy organizers strongly encourage you to write your personal stories. We want you to know that we won't judge your writing style, grammar or spelling.

Essay Tips

Please review the essay questions carefully. Make sure to review the help text below the question.

Good essay answers have at least 2 to 3 sentences. We prefer essays with detailed examples or stories from your life.

Two questions ask about the discrimination you face in your learning environment or while building your skills. We are not asking you to provide details about your completed classes, your educational background, or what skills you have. We are asking you to talk about about the discrimination you face in your learning environment or while building your skills.

When talking about the discrimination you face, assume the reader lives in a different culture than you. Provide background about your culture, including links to articles or blogs if needed.

If you mention that you face discrimination, say which marginalized group(s) you are a part of. You may need to mention the university, town, region, or country where you live or went to school. You may need to provide statistics about why your group is in the minority in that area.

Unclear: "I face religious discrimination"
Clear: "I am a Muslim in France. Muslims make up less than 2.3% of France's population. I face religious discrimination."

Provide specific examples of the discrimination you have faced. Provide a short summary of what happened. Talk about how the discrimination you faced impacts your education or career. Discrimination could be impacting you today or you may worry it will impact you in the future.

We do not want writing an essay to re-traumatize survivors of violence and oppression. There is no need to share detailed descriptions of sexual harassment or assault. You do not need to share the details of why you are a refugee. Instead, state that you face this type of discrimination, specify who is harassing or discriminating against you, and how it impacts your education or career.

One essay question refers to "the technology industry of your country". We want to know about the technology industry in the country you will be living in during the internship. Talk about the discrimination you face in that country's technology industry, not in the international technology industry.

Please do not put personal contact information in your essays. We do not require references and will not follow up with references. Please do not put links to your resume in your essays. We do not read resumes.

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Preparing for the contribution period

You can read about what it's like to apply to Outreachy:

Outreachy recommends the following resources for learning about contributing to free and open source software projects:

You may want to brush up on your skills for contributing to free and open source software communities. Each project will use a different set of skills, and some mentors may be willing to teach you skills. Projects and the skills they use change each round. The most common skills used in projects last round were:

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Finding a Mentor and an Internship Project

Once your initial application is approved, the contribution period will open. The next step in the Outreachy application process is to look through the list of participating communities and internship projects. Pick one or two projects that look interesting to you. Then you'll work with a mentor to start working on a contribution for the project.

We don't recommend applying to more than two projects.

Many people want to increase their chances of getting accepted. They see some communities that are accepting many interns, and some communities that are accepting one or two interns. Their instinct is to apply to the communities that are accepting more interns. However, when all the applicants think that way, it means projects that are only accepting one intern don't get a lot of applicants.

You should pick a project that looks interesting to you, and will help you improve the skills you want to learn. Don't pick a project based on the number of interns the community is accepting.

Many people get overwhelmed with the list of projects and don't know how to choose a project! Our advice is to pick a project whose mission resonates with you.

Once you've narrowed down you list of projects, you can decide whether the project is right for you by:

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Making Contributions

What is a Contribution?

To 'contribute' means 'To give to a common cause, often along with other people'. In free software and open source, we talk about 'contributing' to a project or community. That means people working together to improve an open source project. People who regularly work on open source are often called 'open source contributors'.

Outreachy applicants will become open source contributors during the contribution period! When you work on an Outreachy project task, you're making a 'contribution' to that project. A contribution can be something small, like a bug fix or a documentation improvement.

Applicants are required to make a contribution.

Outreachy applicants are required to make at least one contribution to an Outreachy project. Only applicants who make a contribution will be eligible to be selected as an intern. Applicants are required to record their contributions in the Outreachy website. You can't submit a final application until you record a contribution.

Start your contributions early! Many applicants under-estimate the time it will take to complete a contribution. Most applicants take 5 to 10 days to complete their first contribution.

Some project mentors find that they have many promising applicants. They may choose to close their project to new applicants. If you wait too long to start, your project may be closed to new applicants.

Don't try to make a big, last minute contribution. Keep in contact with your mentors throughout the whole contribution period. Ask questions and send contributions at a steady pace.

Start with a smaller contribution. Then try a more complex contribution. The end goal is to show you have the skills to be a successful intern.

How do I find a contribution to work on?

Project mentors have a list of tasks for applicants to work on. You can find the task list in the project details page, which is linked from the project selection page. The project description should include a section called 'Project Contribution Information'. That should have information about how to find a contribution to work on.

Some projects, like the Linux Kernel, want people to contribute in a specific way. They may have a tutorial for setting up your environment and creating your first contribution. The project description or community description should mention a tutorial.

Some mentors have each applicant work on different tasks. Other mentors have each applicant complete the same task.

Some project issue trackers have a tagging system. Mentors may tag tasks that are good for newcomers to the project. Some common tag names are "first patch" or "newcomers welcome" or "newcomer friendly".

When in doubt, ask the project mentor! It's good to ask for suggestions when looking for a suitable contribution. Make sure to describe what your skills are and what you want to learn more about.

Recording your contributions

Applicants are required to record their contributions in the Outreachy website. Only applicants who have recorded a contribution will be allowed to submit a final application.

You can record a contribution as soon as you start working on it. You can go back and edit your recorded contribution at any time.

You can find a link to record a contribution on the project details page. Go to the Outreachy project list, and click the link for your project. On the page with project details, you should see a link to 'record your contributions and create a final application'.

Getting help on a contribution

Working on contributions can be confusing at times! It is expected and perfectly normal to have questions. Mentors are here to help.

If you get stuck for more than a couple hours, ask the project mentors or community for help. If you ask for help privately and don't get an answer, try asking on the public community channels as well. If you ask for help publicly and don't get an answer, try emailing the mentor.

Contributions to open source communities are submitted and reviewed in the public. That can feel intimidating at first, but remember that mentors are here to help you!

Contribution review and revisions

After you submit a contribution, your mentor or another community member will review it. They will often have feedback and changes you'll need to make. This is not a criticism of your work or skills. You should view it as a chance to learn something new and improve your skills.

Please be sure to follow up on the reviewer's feedback. You may need to submit your contribution several times. Keep working on it with your mentor until it is ready to be included in the project. It's best to allocate time over several weeks for this process. Try to start you contributions as soon as possible.

How Much Should I Contribute?

Applicants are only required to make one contribution. However, we find that the strongest applicants make multiple contributions. The strongest applicants are consistent about working on the project. They communicate regularly with their mentor to discuss what they're working on.

Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to contribute after the contribution period ends.

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Final application

Applicants are required to create a final application for each Outreachy project they apply to. Only applicants that record a contribution to a project will be able to create a final application for that project.

We encourage applicants to submit their final application at least a day before the deadline (Nov. 5, 2019 at 4pm UTC). You can edit your final application until the deadline.

The final application asks four questions:

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Intern announcement

Intern selections are not shared with applicants until interns are announced on Nov. 26, 2019 at 4pm UTC.

If you want more details about the internship, please read our Internship guide.