Wambui Karuga

Outreachy: Applying and Getting Accepted into the Programme.

I found out about the Outreachy internship project in 2018 during my last year of school. I was interested in getting involved in contributing to the open source community and the Outreachy program kept popping up in guides on how beginners could get started in the open source world. Outreachy is an internship program that matches interns with Free and Open Source Software communities for a three month contribution period.

I didn’t get to apply for the program in 2018 - partly due to my school workload and partly because I was afraid of not passing through the application period. I had previously applied to and been rejected by Google Summer of Code, so I was sure that I’d be getting rejection again.

It wasn’t until late in 2019 when I revisited the idea of applying to Outreachy again. The December 2019 - March 2020 internship applications were open and at that point, I had been employed full time as a software engineer. Over the past year, I’d slowly started getting involved with the open source world by contributing to the Mozilla Foundation, both in code contributions and getting involved in their Internet Health initiatives.

Through my job, I’d gotten interested in kernel and operating systems development and was very excited that some of the projects in this round were contributing to the Linux Kernel. I’m a very poor applicant so I waited until the last day to fill in the first application form (not recommended), and a week later, I got an email that I’d passed the first application round!

For me, the contribution period was a bit more challenging. The Linux kernel has a separate tutorial for interns wishing to contribute to the project. Interns would need to submit a series of patches on the staging branch of the kernel to practice on how to get patches in the kernel accepted and merged. Submitting my first patches was very nerve-wracking - I think I went through the tutorial five times before I could send my first (trivial) patch - but Greg Kroah-Hartman and Julia Lawall were very helpful in reviewing patches submitted.

One of the experiences that helped me during my application was attending the Embedded Linux Conference - Europe at the end of October 2019. I was able to meet and talk to the previous Outreachy interns about their experiences during the application period and their internships. I was also able to meet one of my current mentor - Daniel Vetter - during the conference.

I got my acceptance as an intern four weeks after my application round, and I’m now officially and intern with the Linux Kernel GPU subsystem! I recently started my internship and I couldn’t be happier that I stuck with the application process. I still get excited seeing my name in the commit log - especially in a project as universal and loved as the Linux kernel.

One of the things that I reflect on about my application process is the self doubt I experienced. Two weeks into my internship, I’m very happy that I didn’t talk myself out of applying due to it.