Time Commitment

Mentors should be able to commit at least 5 hours a week on most weeks from the beginning of the six-week application period through the end of the three-month internship. The application period is often more time-intensive than the internship period, because applicants will need help getting started and identifying a good first contribution they can make to the FOSS project. Having a co-mentor or a project team who can review contributions and point people in the right direction can help spread the load during the application period and internship.

Each mentor will also need to accept a mentor agreement and their intern will need to accept an intern agreement. These agreements allow 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.

Co-mentoring Is Encouraged

If you're thinking about being a mentor, you should carefully look at the mentorship timeline and determine your availability. If you're going on vacation for more than a week during the internship or you will have a heavy work load, you should consider adding a co-mentor. Co-mentors can help review intern contributions and answer questions. Co-mentors are especially helpful during the application period, when there are many applicants who need help getting started.

You can decide with your co-mentor if one person is considered a primary mentor and the other person is considered a secondary mentor or if you both share the mentorship responsibilities about equally. Multiple mentors can accept a mentor agreement for the same intern and be listed as official mentors. It's the official mentor(s) responsibility to guide the intern and connect the intern with other people who can help with, review, and merge intern's contributions throughout the internship. Upon consultation with other official mentors, if any, one of the official mentors provides feedback during the internship mid-point and final review, which will determine whether an Outreachy intern is paid the mid-point and final payments.

Pre-application Process

Define a Project

Each Outreachy mentor works to define a suitable project for the three month internship. You'll need to work with your Outreachy community coordinator add information about your project to your landing page.

The project should consist of manageable and relevant tasks that can be incorporated into the project throughout the internship period. Stand-alone projects proposed by an applicant are not suitable at all for people who are not established contributors. Please try to avoid situations when participants work on features that are not yet designed or agreed-upon, have too many moving parts, and would only land in the main code-base after the internship is over as a best-case scenario. This rarely works out. Instead, look for agreed-upon manageable bugs and small features that have a shared theme and would allow the participant to feel the satisfaction of landing their changes throughout the internship.

It is best if interns work with your FOSS community or team, starting with smaller tasks (i.e. bugs) and progressing over time to more complex tasks (i.e. features), with each task being suggested by you based on the current priorities of the team. As part of the application process, applicants are asked to build a tentative timeline for their project, so make sure you have a rough idea of the series of tasks for your projects.

It's fine to define more projects than you think your community has funding for. It's good to give applicants a choice of projects, but make sure you have a committed mentor for each project you choose. If you have a lot of project ideas, applicants may think you have a lot of funding for interns and you may get overwhelmed by a lot of applicants, so it's good to strike a balance. Communities that intend to accept 1-2 interns often list 3-5 projects.

See the landing page FAQ for examples of the specific information your project should include.

Define Starter Tasks

Applicants will also need to make small contributions to your project during the six-week application period. In order to be accepted as an intern, applicants need to get one contribution successfully completed (and hopefully merged into the project). The strongest applicants are ones that consistently produce multiple, small contributions during the application process. Applicants that produce a large contribution at the last minute often have inconsistent internship results.

In order to ensure you can successfully evaluate applicants, you'll need to create a set of small tasks for applicants. Make sure you have multiple tasks, since all Outreachy projects have multiple applicants. On average, most Outreachy projects get 5-10 applicants, with more popular projects having around 20 applicants. Our stats are based on the number of applicants that fill out an application form, so there are likely to be more applicants that ask questions but don't start an application.

Sign Up for the Application System

After the Outreachy application period opens, sign up as a mentor in the online application system by following the guide for it. It's important that you sign up for the application system ASAP, so that you make sure you're working with applicants who are eligible for the program (see the Applicant Eligibility section below).

Application Process

During the application process, mentors will need to be responsive to applicants via email and on any community forums. We find that some applicants are shy about collaborating on public channels, and need to be able to make contact with mentors privately first. Please make sure to list your email address on your project description. Once applicants contact you privately, you can encourage them to speak up in public channels. Do not try to "force" applicants to use public channels by not listing your private email.

Make sure you're responsive to questions during the application process. You may need to work with other Outreachy mentors or community members in shifts to ensure you respond to applicants in different timezones. Common applicant timezones are Europe (UTC+3), India (UTC+5), and the U.S. west coast (UTC-7) and east coast (UTC-4).

Most Outreachy applicants hope to get an answer to questions asked on a community chat channel within 4 hours. If Outreachy interns don't hear back from an email to a mentor in 2-3 days, they often get worried and self-doubt will kick in. If Outreachy interns don't hear back, they'll often start applying to another project.

Start hanging out in #outreachy and #outreachy-admin on GIMPNet (irc.gnome.org). You are welcome to pitch in answering any questions from prospective applicants on the mailing list and the IRC channel.

 If your organization is participating in Google Summer of Code, ask applicants who are students applying to work on coding tasks to consider applying for both programs. However, please note, in many cases, there is a difference between how much the programs pay. We are making applicants aware of that in our documentation.

Applicant Eligibility

It's important that Outreachy mentors don't waste their time working with applicants who aren't eligible for the program. We often find applicants "push the boundaries" of our eligibility requirements, especially when it comes to the eligibility requirements for students. We suggest that all mentors:

Too Many Applicants?

Because we ask the applicants to collaborate with mentors during the application process, mentors often find themselves overwhelmed with potential applicants. Please do not hesitate to redirect applicants to other projects or to learn more on their own if one of the following applies:

Your organization's coordinator and Outreachy coordinators will often be able to help you redirect strong runner-up applicants and new applicants to projects with few applicants.

Please let Outreachy coordinators know when you are no longer available to work with new applicants, so that we can update the listing for your idea on the main page for the round appropriately.

Too Few Applicants?

Some of the common causes for too few applicants are:

Applicant Selection

You will make your applicant selection in the application system. Please only select one intern for your project, following the instructions on the application system page. Do not mark "backup" or "alternate choices".

Need help?

If at any point you have a question, feel free to contact the Outreachy organizers.