GitHub revealed today that Adobe and American Express have joined its Summer 2021 Fellowship program, a 12-week, hands-on curriculum where interns work alongside developers to contribute to open source projects hosted on the GitHub repository.
Vanessa Gennarelli, senior director of education at GitHub, said the overall goal of the program is increase the pool of developer talent with experience working remotely on an open source project that requires a fair amount of collaboration with other developers.
The program was developed in collaboration with Major League Hacking (MLH), which organizes hackathons for students. Each intern participates in a series of short hackathon sprints involving multiple open source projects over the 12-week period. GitHub originally created the fellowship program as a way to address the demand for online internships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those internships have provided open source maintainers with access to a pool of talent that can reside anywhere versus, for example, always trying to recruit individuals located in a specific geographic area, Gennarelli said. GitHub is also trying to increase diversity within the open source community, Gennarelli added.
Three quarters of open source maintainers (76%) that have worked with MLH interns reported their open source project was in a better state after working with MLH Fellows. Of eligible fellows who were matched for jobs with an MLH Fellowship partner company, more than 20% ended up receiving full-time offers at that company.
Mike Swift, MLH CEO, said the internships provide a way to partially close a gap in developer expertise that only continues to widen. Organizations are especially keen to find developers that have open source expertise, Swift added.
A survey of 3,400 developers and technology managers conducted O’Reilly Media on behalf of IBM finds 65% of respondents preferred skills related to the underlying open source technologies. The same percentage agreed that contributions to open source projects impress potential employers and result in better professional opportunities. In many cases, open source projects are among some of the most innovative development initiatives in the IT industry, Swift noted.
Of course, as open source becomes a primary driver for building software, more contributors are looking to get paid for their efforts. Much of that compensation comes in the form of organizations that hire developers for the express purpose of contributing to open source projects that they deem critical to their operations.
Regardless of how developers are compensated for their time and effort, it is apparent open source projects are the fountainhead from which many opportunities spring. Future success in any endeavor has as much to do with who someone knows as it does actual talent. The best place for any developer to expand their base of industry contact is to collaborate on an open source project. The more projects they contribute to, the greater the reach of their personal network and, by extension, their net worth, will become.