10 Easy Ways for Engaging in Open Source Community for Boosting Technical Skills
January 23, 2020
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Open source programming and its active community is growing very rapidly as many companies are adopting and using open source solutions. Even, large IT companies like Microsoft and Oracle has moved some of their proprietary projects into open source. However, many job candidates either underestimate or overlook the importance of open source community while many technical employers are considering criteria such as open source engagement as an indication of candidates’ passion for programming or continuous learning. 

Thus, in this article, I share 10 practical tips with job candidates for contributing and engaging in open source community which eventually help them stand out among qualified job applicants.

🐞 Report and Fix Bugs
If you are a fan of coding language or framework, it is good to engage in its community by reporting or fixing bugs. It allows you to boost your skills while sharing your knowledge with that community.  

Adding a Plugin or Extension
This tactic allows you to demonstrate your skills by developing a plugin or an extension for your favorite coding language or framework. For instance, if you like to show your skills as a WordPress developer, create a custom plugin and publish it on WordPress site.

🤝 Attend Technical Committee Meeting
Many open source communities are non-profit organizations that run by volunteers and some committees. First step is to become a member of that community, then make your way to become a member of the technical team. It shines on your resume.

💻 Do Volunteering
Many open source communities run by part-time volunteers. Just check their websites for their volunteer opportunities. It is very easy to apply and get a volunteer role in well-known open source organizations. You can list them on your resume.

⌨️ Create Technical Tutorials or Articles
It is out of question that there is no better way to impress your technical recruiters than saying you’ve published 5-10 technical tutorials or articles at a reputable site like IBM. It demonstrates your passion and skills in that area. Many open source communities are looking for technical content, so just find them. 

🇶Community Forums and Q/A Discussions
Many open source communities have Q/A forums where you can share your skills and knowledge with others, especially beginner to junior programmers. By reviewing and answering other questions, not only you improve your skills and knowledge, but also you can add them to your resume. It shows that you’re serious and knowledgeable about a platform, framework or coding language.

🦸 New Feature Suggestions
To demonstrate your passion or love of an open source framework, platform or coding language, you can make suggestions on adding new features or functionalities to it. While going to a technical interview, just make sure to mention that. It shows that you care about coding and open source community.

💰Get Paid Jobs
Every now and then, open source communities post their part-time or full-time opportunities. So check them routinely and if you are an active member of that community, the chances are you would be able to get the paid jobs much easier than someone who does not have a track of record of community engagement.

👨‍💻 Contribute to GitHub
If you have a GitHub account with a list of your projects, it would be good to join your favorite community GitHub page and create and tag projects to them. It gives you more visibility especially among technical recruiters.

Combination of Above
You can combine at least 3-5 of said tactics to get more visibility in the open source community and potential technical recruiters. The key is to select tactics that are in line with your skills. Also, you should add or list them in your resume so that recruiters can pick them up. 

Every effort you make toward contributing to a popular or your favorite open source framework or library will pay off well in the eyes of technical recruiters as long as they are in line with your IT career path.

Article contributed by Matt Zand, founder of High School Technology Services, DC Web Makers and Coding Bootcamps.

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