When I first got to know about the GitHub Octernships program, I was surprised by its focus on open source software and real-world software development. I have never liked standard DSA interviews, but have loved building projects and interacting with communities since I started my software development journey a year ago.
After getting selected for the program, I have a firm belief that anyone with the same interests as me can get selected too, and I wish to share my experience with you so you can be the next GitHub Octern!
From the Github Octernships website’s homepage:
The GitHub Octernships program connects students with industry partners in paid professional experiences and mentorship on open source and software development projects.
The program is amazing in itself, but I couldn't have asked for a better organization to collaborate with than OpenSauced. As pioneers in the open source software space, they embody the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing that drew me to this program in the first place.
Thanks to OpenSauced, not only did I get a chance to work with cool tech, but also with a great community and developers who helped me improve my skills. I wish to share some of my learnings and the project that I worked on with the community through this post.
In the 11th grade, my journey into software development began with a simple goal: to join my school's computer club. At the time, it seemed like a big deal to me because it meant I would earn a cool hoodie and have unlimited access to the computer lab—an enticing prospect for any aspiring tech enthusiast.
Little did I know that this initial foray into software development would ignite a genuine passion within me. As I delved deeper into the world of coding, I quickly realized the immense potential it held. What fascinated me the most was how accessible it was to upskill myself and create practical applications, whether it was crafting websites or developing useful apps. It was a thrilling experience to witness my ideas come to life and have real-world applications as I completed more and more courses online.
As my journey progressed, I had the opportunity to intern at various companies, both service-based and product-based. It was during these internships that I discovered my preference for working with products. The process of envisioning, developing, and refining a product captivated me. The idea of building something tangible that could potentially make a positive impact on users' lives excited me, and I realized this was where I wanted to focus my efforts.
I started open source software development a few months into my last internship, after one of my colleagues suggested it. When I made my first open source contribution, I realized how much of an impact I could create with this work, especially because of the size of the org I contributed to. My first PR was a feature that I added to the freeCodeCamp codebase; this repo has the highest number of stars on GitHub! I made this contribution in October, and to my surprise, I got an email in December informing me that I was one of the top contributors of 2022 to the freeCodeCamp codebase because of this contribution! I was elated and the sense of satisfaction that I got from this feat was something that I had not experienced before. freeCodeCamp was also the first open source community I was a part of, interacting with the maintainers in their Discord server daily to get my PRs merged and learn more about the codebase!
That’s when I decided, I have to contribute to more Open Source organizations, and so I did. I contributed to many communities and projects in the following weeks, including OpenFoodFacts, Borg Collective, and OpenSauced! I met people I would’ve never met if it were not for open source, and am glad that I could work with an organization that promotes the very thing that I have loved until now!
By March 2023, opening GitHub had become a part of my daily routine. I eagerly checked my notifications and mentions, to stay connected with the open source communities and projects I was actively involved in. It was during one such routine visit to the GitHub homepage that I stumbled upon a promotional message that sparked my interest. Right there, under the "Latest Changes" section, was an announcement for the all-new GitHub Octernships program.
I clicked on the link, having no idea what this program was and how beneficial it could be for my career back then. As I scrolled through the Octernships website, I realized the immense potential this program held for someone like me.
Unlike traditional internship interviews and selection processes that often focused solely on grilling candidates with questions about data structures and algorithms, the GitHub Octernships program promised a different experience—a chance to showcase my software development and communication skills by giving me an opportunity to interact with the project’s team and work on a problem statement given by them.
While going through the available Octernships, even though I was interested in almost all of them, I really liked the vision and tech behind one, the Octernships with OpenSauced. I read the problem statement, which is available here, and applied immediately because of the impact I knew I would be able to create. We were making a chrome extension for OpenSauced that would bridge the gap between the platform and GitHub, this would help onboard many open source developers to the platform and reduce friction. There was one problem though, I never built a chrome extension before this, so I thought it’ll be difficult to get selected. But I was wrong. Thanks to the CEO and Founder of OpenSauced, Brian, the project’s README was all that I needed to set up a chrome extension and get creative!
Not only did I work on my own extension, but I also tried to help others in discussions and solve other issues in the OpenSauced codebase to get noticed.
I even kept an eye on a discussion where people shared updates about their extension, so I could improve mine. I shared feedback for other features and kept asking Brian and Nick (our second reviewer) for more ideas that I could implement.
Communication is key! I finally got reviews from Brian and Nick, props to them for reviewing around 500 submissions in a few weeks. We merged the PR and I got back to my daily schedule of open source and college. But I made sure to interact on the OpenSauced Discord server and make more contributions to other OpenSauced repositories, after all the decision wasn’t made yet!
There were some confusions regarding the submission, so I’ll try to solve those doubts here:
- You follow the “Github Flow” during the submission, which means you have to checkout a branch (submission branch) from the main branch, and do your work there.
- You create a pull request from the submission branch to the main branch, this makes it easy for reviewers to view your changes and leave comments. GitHub has great support for code reviews, and you gotta use it!
- Once you get all reviews, you can ask your mentor if you can merge your PR. Maybe they won’t reply, but don’t merge your PR so that it’s easier for them to review your PR.
The wait between the acceptance date and the submission was 3 weeks, but it felt like 3 months! There wasn’t a single day (or night) when I didn’t think about my application. A few days before the acceptance, I thought maybe they didn’t send out rejection emails and I have been rejected. It was sad, but also the only way I could calm myself down. Until…
I got the email I was waiting for! Brian reached out to me and informed me that I had been selected to work with OpenSauced as an Octern. Notice how he mentions my engagement and discussion with the community in the email as well! Open Source is not always just about the code, but also about the connections and community engagements that come with it. I was super excited and stoked to meet my fellow Octern..
To be honest, I already knew who the other person could be, there was only one other person who was interacting with the community and solving issues in other OpenSauced repositories as much as me - Anush! I DM’d him to know if he got selected, and not to my surprise, he was selected too!
I was excited to work with him, and the other experienced OpenSauced developers, people who have worked in various amazing tech companies before! All with just one goal, promoting open source!
The pre-selection journey was thrilling, and full of uncertainty, but ever since I got selected, the GitHub Octernships program has been game-changing in terms of the exposure and development experience that I got. I’ll share my Octernships experience, and the work that I did in a blog next week. Stay tuned!