Twice a year, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) communities work with Outreachy organizers to offer internships to people traditionally underrepresented in tech. Interns work remotely with mentors from Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) communities on projects ranging from programming, user experience, documentation, illustration and graphical design, to data science. A coordinator for each participating FOSS community works with Outreachy organizers to track mentors, find funding, and advertise their internship projects.

Outreachy interns come from a wide range of backgrounds. Outreachy is open to applicants from underrepresented groups over 18 who fit our eligibility rules. 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. Most Outreachy interns already have some exposure to using FOSS and technical knowledge, but many of them have not contributed to FOSS communities before. During our six-week application period, potential interns make contributions to the participating FOSS communities, which allows mentors to accurately evaluate their skills.

Urvika Gola (Outreachy alumni December 2016) works with Google Summer of Code alumni Pranav Jain on their Android project, Lumicall.

Urvika Gola, former Outreachy intern, hacks on the open source Android application, Lumicall, with former Google Summer of Code intern, Pranav Jain. (Photo CC-BY-NC-SA Sarah Sharp.)

Timeline

There are two Outreachy rounds (May to August, and December to March). The timeline for mentoring orgs looks like:

Mid-year round End of year round
Pre-application period Late January, early February Late August, early September Outreachy organizers reach out to open source communities to see if they want to participate in the next round. Participating communities find funding and submit their community for approval by the Outreachy organizers. Some communities may be added during the application period, but we like to ensure that new communities have at least 3 weeks of the application period to evaluate potential interns.
Application period mid-February to end of March early September to mid-October Outreachy applicants select projects they're interested in, and make small contributions to those projects. We find that the strongest applicants make multiple small contributions consistently throughout the application process. Having a list of starter tasks is essential to finding the right candidates. We will also have a Twitter chat with the #OutreachyChat hashtag to introduce mentors.
Intern selection mid April end of October Participating communities go through the applications in the Outreachy application system, and select the applicants they want to accept as interns. If they have strong applicants that they don't have funding to select, they can ask the Outreachy organizers to provide additional internship funding from the Outreachy general fund. Outreachy organizers will also work with existing sponsors to try to find additional funds. If this is the May to August round, Outreachy will collaborate with any projects that are participating in Google Summer of Code to coordinate intern selection. Once all interns are selected for all projects and funding sources are confirmed, the Outreachy organizers will announce the selected interns. Applicants will confirm via email they want to participate in the internship.
Internships Start end of May beginning of December Mentors officially begin guiding their interns on the project work..
Mid-term Review mid July mid January Mentors provide mid-internship feedback to Outreachy organizers and indicate whether interns should be paid the mid-term payment.
Final Review end of August beginning of March Mentors provide final internship feedback to Outreachy organizers and indicate whether interns should be paid the final payment.
Internships End end of August beginning of March Mentors should encourage and support interns in continuing their community participation through volunteer or paid opportunities, as suits the nature of the community and the interests of the intern.

Outreachy Roles

Outreachy applicant. During the six-week application phase, Outreachy applicants make a small contribution to 1-2 projects and then submit an application to be an intern for the project. Only applicants that complete a contribution will be considered to be accepted to be an Outreachy intern. Full statistics on how many people apply, where they apply from, and how many applicants make a contribution can be found on our latest blog post.

Outreachy intern. Outreachy interns work for three months on a project with one or more mentors. Outreachy interns are not just students (unlike Google Summer of Code), but can be anyone over 18 who meets our eligibility requirements.

Outreachy organizers. Outreachy is run by a small group of organizers, who handle invoicing sponsors, intern payments and travel stipend requests, answer questions from applicants, and onboard new community coordinators, mentors, and volunteers

Coordinator

FOSS community coordinator. Outreachy internships are organized into projects under a specific FOSS community. Each community has a coordinator, which is the main point of contact between the Outreachy organizers and the community's mentors and volunteers. A community cannot participate in Outreachy without a coordinator, and each Outreachy mentored project must be associated with a community.

Coordinator Duties Before Application Period Opens

Coordinator Duties During Application Period

  • Communicating with mentors to determine if they have too few applicants (and need to extend the application deadline for a project) or if the mentor has too many applicants (and needs to close the project to new applicants)
  • Reminding mentors to make their intern selection ASAP after the applicant deadline passes
  • Working with mentors to prioritize which interns to accept. Communities need to be selective about their interns, so coordinators will need to review interns' applications, time commitments, and double check that the mentor is still able to meet our time requirement commitments during the internship. Coordinators are encouraged to be especially selective about interns who will be funded from the Outreachy general fund.
  • Responding to cases where two Outreachy projects want to accept the same intern. Sometimes projects within the same community, or even different communities want to accept the same intern. The Outreachy organizers sort out the selection during the weeks between the application deadline and the intern announcement date. It's very important to select your interns on time, so that Outreachy organizers can work out any applicant conflicts.
  • Responding to cases where mentors have selected an ineligible applicant. Applicants often "push the boundaries" of our eligibility rules, especially students who are taking too many classes. Outreachy organizers will follow up with applicants with missing or vague eligibility information, and we may need community coordinator help to get the mentor to pick a different candidate.
  • In the rare case where a mentor needs to drop from the program, coordinators help find a replacement mentor

If you are interested in being a FOSS community coordinator and are willing to accept the above duties, you can apply for your community to participate in Outreachy.

Mentor

Outreachy mentors. Each Outreachy intern works on a three month project with one or more mentors. Prospective interns (applicants) work with mentors to complete small contributions to the project during the six-week application period. Mentors duties are outlined in detail on the mentor FAQ page. Here is an overview of mentor duties

Mentor Responsibilities

  • Committing to 5-10 hours a week during the six-week application period to review applicant contributions
  • Committing to 5 hours a week during the three month internship period to work with the Outreachy intern
  • Committing to the possibility of the internship being extended for up to five weeks
  • Committing to sign the mentorship agreement. The agreement allows the Outreachy parent organization, Software Freedom Conservancy (Conservancy), to run the program while ensuring that your participation in the program is legally appropriate and that Conservancy holds no responsibility for any inappropriate or grossly negligent behavior of the participants. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about the agreements.

Mentor Duties Before Application Period

  • Signing up to be a mentor on the Outreachy community page
  • Defining a project for an Outreachy intern to work on
  • Defining a set of smaller contributions Outreachy applicants can complete during the application phase. Only Outreachy applicants that complete a contribution can be accepted as an intern.

Mentor Duties During Application Period

  • Reviewing applicant eligibility in the application system, especially time commitments
  • Reviewing applicant contributions and being able to respond to applicant questions promptly
  • Communicating with your community coordinator and the Outreachy organizers if you have too many or too few applicants
  • Selecting an intern ASAP after the application deadline closes
  • Tracking your intern progress and reporting progress to Outreachy organizers during the mid-term and final review period

If you are comfortable with the above duties, then review the Outreachy mentorship process.

Volunteer

Outreachy volunteers. Each participating Outreachy community needs volunteers to answer applicants questions during the application process. Volunteers should be contributors to the community they help with. Volunteer duties are varied (check with your coordinator for where they need help). Volunteer duties may include:
  • Committing to 1-5 hours a week during the six-week application period to help out Outreachy applicants
  • Checking the Outreachy community call for participation to see if any of the FOSS communities they contribute to are looking for volunteers.
  • Connecting interns to the right community member who can answer their question
  • Directing interns to communication channels where they can find mentors
  • Answering questions about community tools
  • Answering questions about community norms (coding style, CI processes, pull request norms, communication channels)
  • Answer questions about open source culture and etiquette (roles in a community, what is a maintainer, how to write a good commit message, sending RFCs rather than coding in a corner)
  • Reviewing applicant contributions
  • Providing feedback on applications to ensure applicants submit high-quality applicant

If you are comfortable with the above duties, then sign up on the Outreachy community call for participation page. The volunteer sign up flow is still WIP, but you can figure out who is the coordinator for your community and contact them for details on how you can help out.