Working on an open source project is an excellent way to flex your professional muscles, learn from other programmers, and make a name for yourself in the industry. Open source projects are contributed to by programmers throughout the world and by their very nature they have a tendency to rigidly adhere to current standards. For a programmer, contributing to such high quality work can make a significant difference in experience levels.
Try to Start Small
Every open source project has a history and any of them are quite large and unwieldy. Begin by making small, manageable changes rather than attempting to radically revamp a project. When working on an open source project, you need to make small changes and then test those changes to ensure that they don’t have any adverse effects. Working slowly will teach you more about the process and will avoid alienating prior contributors.
There are many open source developers who appear and disappear within the matter of a few months, weeks, or even days. When looking at your open source history, many employers will be looking for consistent work over time… not just brief flurries of work at staggered intervals. This will tell them that you’ve been growing as a programmer and that you’re truly dedicated to your craft. Employers want employees who can produce at all times.
Connect With the Community
Open source is about more than just programming. It’s about the community that surrounds the programs. Contributors who simply contribute practical changes are not going to go as far as those who actively engage with other programmers. Talking to the other developers will give you more of an idea of where a project is headed and will help you develop a reputation. The open source community is also a fantastic way to develop networking opportunities.
Focus on the Right Projects
The technology that you should be focusing on through open source projects is the technology that you are most interested in working with. When it comes to 2017, it’s clear to see that cloud systems are going to be the most popular. By choosing to focus on the most popular, advanced, and sophisticated systems, you can both challenge yourself as a developer and ensure that you are up to date on modern standards. Employers will undoubtedly be looking for developers who are experienced with the newest technologies.
The fantastic thing about open source projects is that there are an incredible number of them to choose from. Regardless of your interests, hobbies, and passions, you’re sure to find an open source project that interests you. And once you’ve gotten that experience under your belt (and included it in your resume), you can start looking for jobs. Software Specialists maintains a complete listing of software-related and IT-related positions, carefully selected to include only the best.