Outreach Programs

In the opensource world variety is usually a richness, during the years multiple project bloomed to get more people involved actively into opensource projects in a structured way.

Those programs normally involve giving people from some rewards and make it fit within the internship model.

We did and do participate in community outreach projects such as the Google Summer of Code and Outreach Program for Women.

Tasks and Projects

The projects to propose must be representative of what the organization does, possibly interesting for the student and useful for the community.

Interesting/Challenging Projects

Completing it should give the student at least a modicum of glory.

Increasing difficulty tasks

If the project has an adequante span tasks can be gradually difficult, easier first, such as refactoring the code that will be extended later and harder last, such as writing an encoder once the decoder had been completed.

Selection

Students must be motivated, the reward must not be the only reason why they participate to the project, otherwise they will disappear once the project is concluded.

The prospective students must prove themselves before by showing they know the basics, such as using Git or knowing well enough the languages in use.

Mentoring

One of the key part of the process is guide the new prospective members and make them feel part of the community from day 1. Usually some volunteers take this responsability and act as mentor.

Many mentors model

The best model we experienced is to share the mentorship across a number of people, possibly 2. This is in part to split the workload and provide fallbacks, in part to foster more community as whole interaction.

Planning

The mentors have to plan in advance the tasks and make sure the student is working correctly so the projects can be concluded within the allotted time window. Most outreach projects last few months and results must be provided.

Milestones

Using a quasi-agile approach with milestones/checkpoints and quick reports works the best usually. Try to split any project in tasks that could be completed within days or at most a week and make sure every few days everything is going as supposed.

Evaluation

Students are not to be expected to be perfect but they must improve over time. Always give the benefit of doubt once, but never be too lenient.