by Nguedia Adele

How I got my Outreachy internship and what I’ve learned so far

I recently got accepted for an Outreachy internship, working with LibreHealth.

What I’ve been doing so far

I officially began my internship with LibreHealth on the 23rd May and it has been nothing short of awesome. During the period between being accepted and officially beginning work, I have been getting acquainted with the members of the team I’m now a part of. Being really shy and introverted, I thought this was going to be the hardest part for me. But everyone is just so nice and welcoming…they’re all amazing ? . Besides this, I’ve been translating some documents that were written by other candidates.

How did I get here?

I heard about Outreachy a few years ago, when it was still known as Free and Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women. I was walking home from school with friends and we were talking about GSOC (Google Summer of Code). I remember saying I didn’t feel confident enough to try because everyone I know who had taken part in the program were gurus when it came to programming. This friend told me about a “GSOC for girls,” but despite the fact that he encouraged me to apply, I still didn’t think I had what it took. So I didn’t make any moves.

During my final year in University, I got more interested in programming. I thought I’d get better by contributing to free and open-source software (FOSS). I remembered the talk about “GSOC for girls” and started searching online. Lo and behold every time I typed the words “Free and Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women” in my browser, all the results pointed me to Outreachy.

I carried out my research to find out what Outreachy was, and found out that it was the new name of the program I had been looking for. At that time, the December 2017 round had not been launched yet, so I archived it hoping to return to it at a later date. But I got so caught up with school projects that I completely forgot.

After my graduation in December, I put Outreachy at the top of my priority list. The application period had passed for that round, so all I did was research. I talked to former “GSOCers” I knew and read the blogs of some of the candidates on the Outreachy alumni page. I set alarms and reminders so I wouldn’t miss the application period no matter what came up.

When the application period came, I went through the list of projects available and LibreHealth caught my attention. Though I had been told that it was advisable to apply for at least 2 projects, I refused to do so. When I started working with the Libre community, I got so caught up that I didn’t want to stop. I kept telling myself “either I get accepted here or I’ll try again next time. Whatever the case, I’ll keep working.”

After I’d submitted my final application (a few days before the closing date) I went through a few other listed projects and joined some project communication channels. But in the end I didn’t apply for any other projects. I volunteered to start translating some of the documents on LibreHealth EHR modules which been submitted while waiting for the results to be announced.

Oh! Documentation

In school, many lecturers required that we write proper documentation for our projects. I have always loved reading and writing, but I particularly hated this task. I always thought “? this is so not fair, my code already has comments which explain what happens at every step. The user should be able to guess what the program does once the code is compiled and run so why should I write?!”

Many programmers I know think this way too, but here’s an interesting fact I realized recently: not everyone can fully exploit the full functionalities of software without guidance. No matter how intuitive the design may seem, not everyone who comes across the software will be able to enjoy it to the fullest without help. I myself have had to look online for how to perform certain tasks/operations using a software (strangely I didn’t realize I was actually reading documentation other people had made).

When I first began writing for LibreHealth, my work had so many flaws and I had to edit quite a number of times before finally getting it right. I’m so glad I had such patient mentors to help me. I met an amazing lady in the project chat forum, whose writing really inspires me ( ? I’ll ask her if I can share a link to her blog at some point).

So far, so good

I believe I have gotten much better at writing, I know I still have a lot to learn and I’m just so excited!

Check out this story and others on my blog. Thanks for reading!