Getting into open source as an Outreachy intern

Hello, who are you and what are you working on?

Hey! I am Deepika Upadhyay. I identify myself as someone who enjoys solving puzzles and working on challenging things. I'm an Outreachy intern of summer 2019 working on Ceph, which is an open source distributed storage solution provider.

My project was "Applying end to end tracing for OSD's" in which my part was to solve the problem of not having sufficient logs to track the functionality of a system that is using multiple intelligent storages (which make it harder to trace problems since requests are distributed).

I worked on adding the distributed tracing library Jaeger, which helps visualize the end-to-end trace of a request.

Why did you apply to the Outreachy program & why did you pick Ceph as a project to work on?

I got to know about the open source internship program Google Summer of Code (GSoC) in my 2nd year of college from some of our seniors who took part. After talking to them about their experience and learnings, I knew I had to be part of one of these programs.

Via GSoC, I got to know about Outreachy as well, and I made up my mind that I would give it my all to be part of Outreachy. I applied for Outreachy the very same year, but being inexperienced I put too many eggs in one basket without careful consideration. I was dividing my energy between multiple applications along with the college curriculum. I made some bad choices and I didn't get selected for my first application.

This year I knew I had to be careful with where I invested my energy. The last time I applied, I missed working with Jaeger under the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). This time there was again an opportunity to work with it under Ceph, on a project that excited me as well as challenged me in being something new. I just wanted to solve that problem of end-to-end tracing because it seemed so interesting.

I also got a lot of help and encouragement from my mentor, Ali Maredia, in the initial application phase. Those factors all added up for my choosing Ceph.

What were the early days working on Ceph like? How important was the mentorship aspect?

I can't describe how much fun it was and how well I bonded over time with all the coworkers, specifically my mentors. I loved working with them from the beginning. Having meetings and discussions about the initial tasks, setting up the work environment, working in odd hours to get the issues resolved alongside my mentors, attending the daily standup calls - all of it. I learned a lot through the process and better still, it helped me land a job at Red Hat!

I absolutely loved every single day of my internship. While it was sometimes hard and challenging, or just a slog managing a lot of chores along with my internship, it has been a great experience altogether and I am grateful to Outreachy, because of which I got an awesome job offer!

What advice do you have for other new contributors to open source?

I can give advice from the perspective of my experience with Outreachy - to all the applicants I would say it's an awesome opportunity; you will get to learn a lot, you will gain a lot of experience and get a chance to work with smart people. It is apt that you should have a great mentor at the start of your career - I was lucky enough to get 3 great mentors through this process. Thanks to Josh Durgin, Neha Ojha and Ali Maredia for always helping out, and also thanks to Mania Abdi for all your help :).

Open source will teach you how to communicate, collaborate and work on a large codebase. The culture, openness, and motivation will carry it well into the future. If you can't find somewhere to start, just ping someone or go to a meetup or an initiative like Django Girls or PyLadies. If you don't have one in your city, start one yourself! Start somewhere, give this whole new open source world a shot; it's a homely and welcoming place, and your contributions will all be meaningful in shaping the future.

Also, you get awesome opportunities! And do write to me, in case you have any query, or want to share something.

To find out more about Deepika and follow her journey, you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or follow her on GitHub.

If you're a developer from an underrespresented background and want to work on an interesting open source project for a 3 month period, consider looking at the Outreachy program. You'll receive a stipend, mentorship and have the chance to make a real impact on open source.