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 $6,000 USD for the three month internship.
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.
A FOSS community can be a small set of contributors that work together on one piece of software or one free culture project. A community can also be comprised of many different teams that each work on separate subsystems, modules, applications, libraries, tools, documentation, user experience, graphical design, and more.
Each team can submit one or more intern project proposals that their FOSS community will fund. Outreachy cannot accept intern project proposals that don't have an associated community.
There are several different Outreachy roles:
A note on pronouns: The Outreachy website allows applicants, mentors, and coordinators to list their pronouns. Sometimes you may not know the gender identity of an Outreachy participant. In that case, please avoid using gender-specific language. In English, you should use gender neutral language (e.g. "person" instead of "woman" or "man"). You should use gender neutral pronouns ("they" instead of "he" or "she"). We ask that you avoid using gender-specific honorifics like "Mr", "Sir", "Mrs", "Miss", or "Ma'am". We recognize that languages other than English are heavily gendered. It may not be possible to use gender-neutral language in your native language, but we ask you to do so when communicating in English.
Outreachy interns come from a wide range of backgrounds. Interns could be university students, code school graduates, people switching careers, or people coming back to tech after starting a family or other long absence.
Outreachy interns can be people of any gender. If you do not know what a participant's pronouns are, please use gender-neutral language and they/them pronouns.
Outreachy applicants have a wide variety of skill levels. Most Outreachy applicants already have some general skills to make contributions, such as some experience with programming, technical writing, graphic design, etc. Outreachy mentors often have to help applicants and interns learn or improve skills specific to their project.
Many Outreachy applicants have not contributed to open source. Some applicants may have made small contributions, but not worked on a larger project. Other applicants may participate in open source events or groups but don't know how to make a contribution. Some applicants may be using open source. Others may have their first experience with using open source through Outreachy.
Photo CC BY 2.0 WOCinTech Chat
Outreachy is open to applicants around the world.
We invite people to apply who face systemic bias or discrimination in the technology industry of their country.
Outreachy expressly invites applicants who are women (both cis and trans), trans men, non-binary people, 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.
Past Outreachy interns are:
Statistics are based on responses to the 2019 longitudinal study of Outreachy alums.
Outreachy applicants submit an initial application. Outreachy organizers use the initial application to determine whether the applicant is eligible for an Outreachy internship. Outreachy organizers also review the application essays to see if they align with our goal of supporting diversity in open source.
Mentors often want to know if an applicant they are interacting with is eligible to participate. Due to privacy concerns, we do not list the contact information of all applicants with accepted initial applications. However, only applicants with an accepted initial application can record a contribution through the Outreachy website. If you see an applicant has recorded a contribution to your project, their initial application has been accepted, and they should be eligible for Outreachy.
Rarely, we find applicants are not eligible for Outreachy after they have been selected for as an intern. This typically happens because they excluded information like school terms from their initial application, or because they accepted a full-time job after they filled out their initial application. In this case, we will contact mentors privately to ask them to pick another intern.
Eligibility Rules. These eligibility rules apply to the December 2021 to March 2022 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:
Outreachy internships run twice a year, May to August and December to March. We have some rules around which internship round you can apply to:
New communities must meet these rules to be eligible to participate in Outreachy. The Outreachy organizers and the Outreachy Project Leadership Committee (PLC) will review the community's application to ensure they meet our participation rules.
Two types of communities can participate in Outreachy:
All free software communities that participate in Outreachy need to be well-established. Core team members (either paid or volunteer) should be regularly contributing to the community.
Outreachy interns benefit from working with a variety of community members who can help review their work and answer questions.
We encourage communities with more than 5 core contributors to participate. However, this is not a strict requirement.
American non-profit 501(c)(3) charities and 501(c)(6) trade organizations can participate as Outreachy mentoring communities. Outreachy organizers will also consider charitable organizations in other countries.
There is no restriction on the size of the charitable organization that can participate in Outreachy.
Outreachy internships are not a way to find a contractor to work on your project. Instead, the goal is to introduce open source best practices to Outreachy interns.
Outreachy internships are considered fellowships. The goal of the Outreachy internship is for interns to learn about working in open source. Outreachy mentors will adjust the project goals according to the intern's skills and interests. Outreachy mentors should not expect a particular goal to be accomplished by the Outreachy intern.
Outreachy interns are not employees of any Outreachy sponsor.
Outreachy cannot "place" interns in for-profit companies. Outreachy interns work directly with mentors from open source communities. They do not work for companies.
Outreachy interns are not employees of the open source communities.
Outreachy interns are self-employed contractors. They work under contract with Outreachy's parent non-profit organization, Software Freedom Conservancy. Conservancy is an American 501c3 charitable organization. Conservancy handles Outreachy intern contracts, tax paperwork, and internship stipend payment.
All communities must find finding for at least one intern ($6,500 USD):
All types of open source communities can apply to receive additional funding for interns. However, funding for at least one intern must be secured first.
Outreachy internship projects must be released under either an OSI-approved open source license that is also identified by the FSF as a free software license, OR a Creative Commons license approved for free cultural works.
Outreachy internship projects must forward the interests of free and open source software, not proprietary software.
Please make sure to read through the mentor FAQ for tips on what makes a good project.
Free and open source communities that participate in Outreachy must forward free and open source software in public interest.
While we encourage companies to provide internship opportunities to people from underrepresented groups, the program cannot be used for internal company internships.
Participating free software communities can't be too tightly tied to any one company. Experienced community contributors should be employed by multiple organizations or be volunteers. The community resources should not advertise services of only just one company related to the software the community produces. Community governance should include multiple companies or volunteers.
There should be no difference in functionality between the free and paid versions of the open source project. Outreachy does not allow open source projects which use a non-FSF approved license to restrict the rights of users of the free version of the project.
We do allow communities that provide paid hosting services. However, pricing pages should put the free community-hosted version at the same prominence as commercial hosting prices.
All work done by Outreachy interns should be public. While interns may communicate with their mentors privately, mentors should encourage interns to communicate on public community channels as much as possible.
Community communication channels (chats or forums) should be public. It is fine for community chat channels to be invite-only in order to discourage spammers.
All communities must find finding for at least one intern ($6,500 USD):
All types of open source communities can apply to receive additional funding for interns. However, funding for at least one intern must be secured first.
Funding for interns may come from a number of different sources. Communities are welcome to apply to participate if their sponsorship is not confirmed yet. Sponsorship information can be updated at any time until the intern selection deadline.
FOSS communities often fund Outreachy interns directly from their own community funds, or by using funds from the foundation or non-profit who is their fiscal sponsor.
Many FOSS communities find funding from corporate sponsors who use their FOSS project.
Some Outreachy communities may have a full or partial internship stipend credit. A credit usually occurs when a community has arranged for a company to sponsor them, the company has paid the sponsorship invoice, but the community ends up accepting less interns than the amount the company sponsored. In rare cases, a community may have a partial internship credit when an internship is terminated, and either the midpoint or final internship stipend was not paid.
Community internship credits are valid for two years from the time the credit was recorded. It can be used towards interns sponsorship in future Outreachy internship rounds. If a community does not use the credit within two years, the credit revert to the Outreachy general fund.
Communities can apply to the Outreachy general fund to sponsor interns. There are two ways to apply for Outreachy general funding:
Humanitarian open source communities are eligible for interns to be fully funded by the Outreachy general fund.
Open science communities are eligible for interns to be fully funded by Wellcome Trust.
Other communities must secure their own funding for at least one intern ($6,500 USD). After that external funding is secured, they can apply for additional interns to be funded by the Outreachy general fund.
Humanitarian open source communities are invited to apply to the Outreachy general fund when first signing up to participate in Outreachy. If your community is approved, Outreachy will fully fund at least one intern.
Non-humanitarian open source communities are not eligible for this option.
To be eligible for intern funding, a humanitarian open source community must be:
Outreachy is pleased to work with Wellcome Trust to provide funding for open science interns. Wellcome Trust is focused on funding Outreachy interns working on open science projects that address urgent health challenges or discovery research.
Open science communities are invited to apply for Wellcome Trust funding when first signing up to participate in Outreachy. If your community is approved, Wellcome Trust will fully fund at least one intern.
In order to qualify for funding from Wellcome Trust, projects must be:
As explained in the sections above, communities must find their own funding, or apply for funding from the Outreachy general fund or Wellcome Trust. Once funding for one intern is secured, communities will be approved to participate in Outreachy.
During the intern selection process, some communities may find they have more strong applicants than they have funding for. In that case, communities can apply to the Outreachy general fund for additional intern funding.
All types of open source communities (humanitarian, open science, and other types) are welcome to apply for additional intern funding.
During the intern selection process, communities can request additional interns be sponsored by the Outreachy general fund. Communities can request that an intern be funded by the Outreachy general fund through the Outreachy website. When a mentor selects an intern, the community coordinator can set the funding source to the Outreachy general fund.
After the intern selection deadline, Outreachy will review general funding requests across all communities. We will determine which ones we have budget to sponsor. Decisions will be communicated before the intern announcement date.
The sponsorship for each Outreachy intern is $6,500 USD.
The Outreachy general fund typically sponsors 5 to 10 interns per cohort. The Outreachy general fund usually sponsors 1 intern per community, but it has occasionally sponsored up to 3 interns per community.
Wellcome Trust typically sponsors 1 to 3 interns per cohort.
The Outreachy organizers review Outreachy general funding requests after the intern selection deadline. We review Outreachy general funding requests across all communities. Then we apply our criteria to determine which communities get funding.
Intern free time We first look at the amount of time each intern has free. We review the time commitments the intern put in their initial application. We review the intern's final application to ensure they do not have new time commitments.
If an intern has close to the minimum required free time during the internship period, we look at the quality of their contributions. If an intern has not a lot of free time and has made lower quality contributions, they are not a good fit to be accepted. If an intern has not a lot of free time, but has higher quality and complex contributions, they can be accepted as an intern.
Contribution quality Second, we look at the quality of the contributions made by the intern.
If the intern has made simple contributions, it's unclear whether they have the skills to be successful during the internship. We may ask the mentor how they have evaluated the intern's skills.
Interns who are rated 1 ("Struggling - applicant did not understand instructions or feedback") or 2 ("Inexperienced - smaller contributions that vary in quality") are not good candidates for Outreachy general funding.
If the mentor has rated the intern as a 3 or lower ("Good - some smaller contributions of good quality"), we may have a discussion with the mentor about their evaluation of the intern's skills.
Interns who are rated 4 ("Strong - at least one large, high-quality contribution") or 5 ("Amazing - multiple large, high-quality contributions") will be prioritized for Outreachy general funding.
Alternative sponsors Outreachy needs to carefully allocate its funding. If a community already has a sponsor that is a for-profit company or a 501c6 (non-profit trade organization), we may reach out to that sponsor to see if they can fund additional interns.
What makes a good Outreachy internship project? (Credit to QEMU coordinator Stefan Hajnoczi's talk at KVM Forum for these tips.) A project that is suitable for interns to work on is:
Outreachy internships run twice a year.
Here is our general schedule for each year:
|Important Round Dates||Mid-year Internships||End of year Internships|
|Call for mentoring communities opens||early January||early August|
|Initial applications open||early February||late August|
|Initial applications due||end of February||early September|
|Contribution period opens||mid March||early October|
|Contribution period ends||mid April||end of October|
|Interns announced||mid May||late November|
December 2021 to March 2022 Outreachy internships round schedule
|June 17, 2021 at 4pm UTC||Community sign up opens|
|Aug. 9, 2021 at 4pm UTC||Initial applications open|
|Aug. 23, 2021, 4 p.m. UTC||#OutreachyChat on Twitter|
|Sept. 3, 2021 at 4pm UTC||Initial application deadline|
|Sept. 17, 2021 at 4pm UTC||Deadline for community sign up|
|Oct. 8, 2021 at 4pm UTC||Mentor project submission deadline|
|Oct. 8, 2021||Contribution period begins|
|Nov. 5, 2021||Contribution period ends|
|Nov. 5, 2021 at 4pm UTC||Final application deadline|
|Nov. 10, 2021||Intern selection deadline|
|Nov. 19, 2021||Outreachy organizers finalize intern selections|
|Nov. 22, 2021 at 4pm UTC||Interns are publicly announced on the alums page|
|Dec. 6, 2021|
to March 4, 2022
The internship round begins when the Outreachy organizers open the call for participation communities. The community CFP period somewhat overlaps with the initial application period.
Community CFP period:
Initial application period:
Intern selection period:
The first step for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) communities who want to participate Outreachy is to fill out a community participation application. Outreachy organizers and the Outreachy Project Leadership Committee will review your community participation application.
Community coordinators will receive an email once their community is approved to participate in this internship round.
Once the community coordinator has applied to participate, they can send their community's CFP page link to mentors.
Mentors must submit their project descriptions through the Outreachy website. Co-mentors can sign up once the project has been submitted. Coordinators will approve the projects and any co-mentors.
Mentors should sign up on the Outreachy website, since that grants them special permissions. Mentors who sign up will be can be subscribed to the mentors mailing list, which the Outreachy organizers use to send important announcements. Mentors will be granted read access to applications for their project and will be notified of new applicants.
The contribution period is often very busy and stressful for mentors. They will have around 10-15 applicants asking questions and working on tasks. It's often hard to keep track of who is working on what. You may be overwhelmed by the number of emails, chat notifications, or repository issue notifications.
Communities that have participated in Outreachy in the past have some guidance to share on how to lower stress for mentors:
Outreachy is open to anyone around the world. Unfortunately, that means you can get questions and contributions at any time of the day (or night!). It's important that mentors protect their personal time to unwind and do self-care. In your project description, mention what times you are best available to answer questions. Try to set aside at least one hour per week day to answer questions.
The downside to this is that some applicants will not be able to get their questions answered during their normal working hours. You may find that some applicants even shift their work or sleep schedule to be available during your office hours. This can be added emotional labor for parents with children, or people who are currently working and trying to switch careers into tech.
On the other hand, you will need to set up regular check-in times with your intern. So being up front about when you are available to help will narrow the applicants down to ones that have a window to work with you. Some mentors have been able to make working with an applicant with a 12 hour timezone difference, and some mentors have struggled. You know yourself and your work habits. Make the best call for you, while still being open to working with Outreachy interns in many different timezones and countries.
You can ask experienced contributors to your community to be "unofficial" volunteers. These volunteers could be past Outreachy or Google Summer of Code interns with your community, or other community members. They don't have to be official mentors, but they can help answer questions.
Unofficial volunteers can help people set up contribution environment and tools. They can help with common contribution tools, like git or other revision control software. Unofficial volunteers can also provide experience with community norms. Community norms could be something technical like what coding style to use. Community norms can also involve communication style, like how to effectively ask for help.
Unofficial volunteers can also serve as a connector to other community members or external open source contributors. They can help introduce applicants to people who works on specific parts of the project, or external open source contributors who are experts with a particular tool (like git).
A simpler contribution could be something like fixing a spelling error in the documentation. A more complex contribution could be something like refactoring code, writing a documentation section, or doing research. Applicants have a tendency to make a lot of simpler contributions. They may feel confident making smaller changes, but less confident tackling medium complexity tasks.
You can limit the number of simpler contributions that each applicant can complete. Keep track of how many simple contributions applicants have claimed to work on. If an applicant has worked on or wants to claim a third or fourth simple contribution, encourage them to pick up a medium sized or more complex task.
Some communities have queues of simple, medium complexity, and highly complex tasks. Once an applicant completes 1-3 simple tasks, you can point them to the medium complexity task queue.
You can ask all applicants complete the same tasks. This task could be something like taking a screen shot showing which shows they got the contribution environment working and made a change to your project. They could also work on a document, like a review of the usability of your project or a design document for a feature they would be working on during the project.
The upside of having applicants work on the same tasks is they can all commenting on the same GitHub issue, which allows you to keep the conversation in one place.
The downside of having applicants work on the same tasks is that some people might be intimidated by the other applicants' work. It may also encourage applicants to copy other applicants' work. If you ask applicants to complete the same task, be sure to have some other individualized tasks that test the applicants' skills.
Open source is about collaborating with others in a community. It's important to encourage that collaborative mindset in your applicants. Otherwise they may be focused on a more competitive mindset, focusing only on how they can improve their changes of being accepted as an intern.
You can encourage applicants to help each other. Encourage them to engage with applicants or newcomers to the community who ask questions. Keep a shared document of common questions and answers that any applicant can add to. Once an applicant has completed a medium complexity task, encourage them to start reviewing other applicants' contributions.
The upside of encouraging applicants to collaborate is you may lessen the workload for mentors.
There are several downsides, however. One is that applicants with impostor syndrome may feel shy about sharing answers to questions, even if they know the correct answer. Second, some interns may live in countries where they are taught to defer to teachers or people in authority. Answering a question that is directed at experienced developers may seem taboo or breaking a cultural norm.
Additionally, gender bias may come into play when you're looking for interns that collaborate with each other. Women and non-binary people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) are often socially conditioned to not speak up unless they are extremely confident in their answer. You may find that men and non-binary people who were raised with masculine cultural norms are more likely to speak up and answer questions. Gender bias and gendered social norms should be considered when making intern selections.
Often times, Outreachy applicants will wait until the last week or two of the contribution period to start making contributions. Sometimes this results in them finding a project that has few applicants. Sometimes this means they try to make contributions to a project where many people have already made a contribution. It's important to encourage applicants who are seeking a project to contribute to projects with few applicants.
If you're overwhelmed with applicants who are already finished with contributions, you can close your project to new applicants. This simply moves your project listing on the projects page to a section called "Closed to new applicants". Current applicants will still be able to record contributions and submit a final application.
You can close your project to new applicants by finding that button on your dashboard.
It's a difficult decision as to when to close your project to new applicants. You may have many applicants who have completed a simple task, but you're not sure if any of them have the skills to succeed in the internship yet. You may want to wait to close your project to new applicants until at least one or two applicants have completed a medium-complexity task.
Don't wait too long to close your project to new applicants! Waiting too long means that applicants will apply to a project they have no chance of being accepted for.
On the project list, each community has an estimate of the number of interns it expects to accept. The estimated number of interns is the total number of interns that will be accepted for the whole community. It is not the number of interns per project.
The estimated number of interns is based on the amount of sponsorship for the community and the number of mentors a community has.
The number of interns per community is an estimate, not a hard-and-fast rule. It may increase or decrease during the intern selection period. The reasons for changing are community-specific.
Communities accepting more interns
Some communities will accept more interns than they estimated. This typically means the community has found more funding to pay intern stipends, and has enough mentors to support additional interns.
Some times communities find additional sponsors, or they ask current sponsors for more money. Other times communities request funding from the Outreachy general fund.
Communities accepting less interns
Some communities may accept less interns than they expected. Some communities may accept no interns at all.
Some times communities accept less interns because of a change in mentor free time. Mentors may decide they do not have enough free time during the internship. This could be because of personal reasons, like burn out, a medical condition, or a death in the family. Or mentors could find they simply over-estimated the amount of free time they have.
Some times project mentors evaluated the contributions and decided not to accept any applicants.
Mentors and coordinators are encouraged to read the Internship Guide. The Internship Guide includes mentor duties and expectations during the internship. Mentors should familiarize themselves with the internship chat and blogging schedules.
Outreachy organizers have the following expectations for mentors during week 1 and 2 of the internship:
Clearing up doubts.
Answer intern questions: Mentors should answer questions sent via email or private message. Mentors should encourage interns to ask questions on the public community chat, forum, or mailing lists. However, they should not refuse to answer questions sent privately.
Office hours: Mentors should set up a time each day when they can answer intern questions via chat. Ideally there will be at least 1 hour overlap between mentor working hours and intern working hours.
Weekly meeting: Mentors should schedule a weekly phone or video chat with their intern.
Daily stand-up: Outreachy organizers highly encourage mentors to set up a daily stand-up, either via phone or real-time chat. A daily stand-up allows you to track the intern's progress and ask if they are facing any blockers.
Intern blog: Mentors should be aware of where their intern blog is located. Interns are required to blog every two weeks. Mentors should read, comment, and share those blog posts with the wider community or on social media.
Giving acknowledgment and praise.
Acknowledgment of effort: Mentors should acknowledge the effort and hard work the intern put in during the contribution period.
Positive feedback: Mentors should give positive feedback about the intern's efforts to ramp up on their project.
Communication skills: If necessary, mentors should give the intern feedback on how they can communicate more clearly.
Team work skills: Interns are likely to be new to working publicly in an open source community. Mentors should give the intern feedback on how to effectively ask questions in the community's chat, forum, or mailing lists. Mentors should coach the intern how the community collaborates and works together as a team. Mentors should explain how to submit contributions and any contribution style requirements.
Contribution skills: Mentors may need to coach interns on how to create drafts of their work and share them with the community. This will help the intern gather feedback on their approach or design before putting too much time into the implementation.
Critical thinking skills: While the intern is ramping up on their project, mentors may have to provide more coaching to the intern to help them solve problems. Mentors should provide links to resources, as well as pointing out which section of the resources to read. Mentors should encourage the intern to create a list of resources, and consult those resources when they run into issues.
Teaching about open source.
Onboarding documents: Mentors should coach the intern on how to interact with the community, which chat channels to use, where to ask for help. Ideally these community norms would be documented. Mentors may need to create the documentation if it doesn't exist, or work with their intern to create documentation.
Community vocabulary: Mentors should watch for community-specific terms, acronyms, or jargon. Mentors should explain those community-specific terms to their interns.
Creating networking opportunities.
Community roles: Mentors should go over the community members or teams. Explain the different roles and which community members work on what part of the project. If your community is large, explain your immediate team or subsystem now. Then explain the larger community structure later in the internship.
Community networking: Mentors should announce the internship to their open source community. If their open source community is very small (e.g. 3-5 people), Outreachy organizers encourage mentors to announce the internship to related open source communities or related STEM communities. Congratulate the intern on their internship, and explain what project the intern will be working. If the internship project scope has changed, discuss the changed scope with your intern before announcing the project change to the community.
Technical industry networking: Ask your intern whether they would like to be tagged on any social media posts. Some interns prefer to not have their social media usernames mentioned in mentor posts. Once you have obtained consent, mentors are encouraged to announce the intern and their project on social media.
Encouraging career development.
Intern skills goals: Mentors should discuss what type of work the intern has enjoyed in the past, and what type of work or challenges they would like to tackle during the internship. Mentors should ask what skills the intern would like to learn during the internship.
Intern career goals: Mentors should discuss with their intern what their career goals are. If the intern does not know what career they want to pursue, the mentor can discuss the different career options they know of.
Project modification: If possible, mentors may want to modify the project goals to better align with skills the intern wants to learn, the type of work they want to do, what challenges they want to tackle, and their career goals.
The $6,500 USD intern sponsorship covers the $6,000 internship stipend and a $500 accounting fee. The accounting fee covers Outreachy's fiscal non-profit parent organization, Software Freedom Conservancy, handle sponsor invoicing, intern payments, W-9 collection, visa request letters, employment verification letters, student internship credit letters, and tax questions.