Over the past few weeks I have been presenting on open source technology in college environments at St Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX and Korea University in Seoul. Spending time on a college campus is a great way to re-energize yourself, as the students are clearly there to learn from you and ask endless questions. In speaking with the students I came to the realization that open source is the magic bullet for software developers looking for a job after graduation. I encouraged the students I met to select an open source project that interested them and begin spending time in the community. Read up on the technology, get the latest development build and try it out, report bugs to the community in the appropriate manner, try to solve some simple bug issues and send updated code back, work on documentation (translators are always welcome for any language), spend time in the support area to learn and answer questions. All of these interactions with a community will create awareness of who you are and allow the other community members to establish a relationship with you on a professional/technical level. As you continue to become better known and offer additional services your value will increase significantly and make you an easy higher when you graduate. As an example, I am attending the Python programming language conference this weekend in Atlanta and there is a job program at PyCon specific for people looking for jobs in the Python development arena. I received information form the event team about the following companies doing on-site interviews for Python programmers: Google, Microsoft, White Oaks Technologies, Mozilla, Caktus, Survey Monkey, etc. Just think about this – companies will be on-site at an open source conference to interview and hire experienced developers directly. Pretty amazing way to get a job.
So, if you are a developer looking for a job or a student working toward your degree, don't wait for a job to come to you - go get that job by becoming an active member of an open source community. If anyone who reads this has used this process to get a job, please share your experiences as I try to get more students working on open source earlier.