In January 2013 the OpenStack project welcomed aboard three interns and excitedly assigned them to work on fairly complex projects in our first attempt at an organized project-level internship program. The OpenStack Foundation participated as one of the organizations with the GNOME Outreach Program for Women and learned quite a few lessons during the six months internship period.
By February, two of the interns had learned the tough lesson of what happens when coordinated work efforts move at a fast pace. For example, Laura Alves, an API documentation intern had a patch with a manually created WADL for the Networking project nearly completed. She started requesting reviews from the core developers. We soon discovered that the devs were working on an automated method for creating the WADL. It certainly took some quick communication and coordination to make sure her work wasn’t wasted. Her efforts certainly weren’t wasted but it also hasn’t landed quite yet either. Lesson learned: internship projects are difficult to scope and it’s nearly impossible to set aside tasks in a reserve area just for interns.
Still more lessons learned were that the timing of code freeze dates landing prior to the internship’s completion made for a steep on ramp for new interns with early deadlines. We also found that interns can contribute so much right away with their fresh perspective — and they created such valuable blog entries for newcomers, like Logging and debugging in OpenStack by Victoria Martínez de la Cruz, so they’ll be helping more newcomers for months. We pulled all our lessons learned together for a “What Everyone Should Know About OpenStack Internships” panel session at the Summit in Portland.
One of the takeaways from the Summit was to learn more about mentoring from Katy Dickinson, and the blog at MentorCloud where she is Vice President has been very valuable to learn from as we continue to shape our plans for interns wanting to learn and contribute to OpenStack. Katy attended our brainstorming session at the Summit and gave us very useful suggestions. We surveyed outgoing interns and are working on a plan to coordinate early and often to identify and promote natural mentors in the OpenStack community.
The more you look for internships and mentors in OpenStack, the more you’ll find. Cisco has interns working on OpenStack projects each summer. One OpenStack intern, Emilien Macchi, at StackOps went on to do a graduate part-time internship at eNovance. Rackspace has interns working on multiple OpenStack projects.
The Foundation is continuing the involvement in the Outreach Program for Women also in the northern hemisphere’s summer edition: Terri Yu started working on the Ceilometer project with Juilan Danjou at the end of May: be sure to welcome her! Look for more opportunities to connect the dots with interns and mentors in the coming months. If you have funds for travel so interns and mentors can meet each other in person, let Stefano Maffuli know. If you have a great intern story to tell, please let us all know.