Greetings Earthlings! (OK enough silliness for one day, back into the pocket you go Martian.) Once again I have to bring up the sort of lame excuse of being too busy to blog earlier. Well yes, it was lame too much work. Actually I killed my “1337” Gentoo box doing an update. So I basically installed the new Ubuntu 6.06, and I am in the process of setting things up. More on the new Ubuntu tomorrow.
Today’s rant is why open source projects make sense. At least from a university student’s point of view. Undergrad in CS to be exact. All other information from me will have to be extracted via torture, slyness or greasing of palm. 😉
Back to the topic, I am in the process of finding an internship position for the next 12-16 months. So far my own personal experience has mostly unsuccessful. The interesting part is that for the two interviews I have received, my interviewers were most interested in my open source projects. They glossed over my “work” experience, if you can call it that in my case. University courses were not even mentioned. Nope, the thing that stood out were the two projects I am currently actively involved in. For those in the unawares, I actually have 3 open source projects in the works. While initially I thought that working on these projects would be fun and simply educational, it turns out that they mean more than that.
There are three main reasons why I believe employers are interested. These being experience, portfolio and marketing. When you work on a project you have to not only have a grasp on the technology but also on the subtilties of team relationships, and organization. Any open source project will showcase your performance as a developer and/or project leader. The final product is interesting in itself. A look into your source code will reveal your work ethic, organization, knowledge, talent and creativity. Finally comes marketing, which applies mostly to the employer and sometimes to yourself. The words “open source” currently flow with the hype and buzzwords of the business world. By hiring an open source developer, the company gains a zen and almost messanic reputation of by part of what the business world sees as the future. Personally I think open source means plain old fashioned politeness and embraces the ethics of old (the “new” standard of “Western” ethics is quite dissettling). In some rare cases if the project is successful enough, the product becomes a brand onto itself. Any developer of said project also gains a certain amount of worth and can use this to his or her advantage when looking for work.
Well that is all great and everything but how can one gain these advantages. Simply put start a project for something that you need or want. Treat if it were a real life product to sell not just a “pet” project. This is how many open source companies themselves started out. Show your professionalism throughout the process. Try new things, and over time maybe that project will pay off in hard, cold cash.