Friday, October 16, 2009

Visiting Seneca - Encouraging students

Last Thursday Oct. 8th, Ben Hearsum and I visited Seneca College to talk with new students that are taking the open source courses taught by Dave Humphrey and Chris Tyler.

I believe that I talked with the students taking the students taking the "DPS909 Topics in Open Source Development" course and Ben talked with the LUX (Linux/Unix Sysadmins) post-grad students that were taking a course in "Build and Release".

I really enjoyed talking for an hour with these students since I was in their shoes two years ago (wow time flies!). I wanted to give them hope and confidence in themselves and that they could get really rewarding jobs in the open source industry through the course they are just taking. It is a large set of skills they can gain out of it.

I believe I covered these in the presentation:
  • Background of where I come from and where I am now: open-source student on Fall '07 & Winter '08, Mozilla intern Summer '08, Mozilla contractor while full-time student on Fall '08/Winter '09 and full-time employee since May '09.
  • Explained my day to day as an open-source student.
  • Explained them how weak I was technically before taking the course (I didn't use at all Linux and/or any open source tools) and how much more I know since then (as if I know that much :P). I emphasized the importance of self-discipline, self-guidance, a little of work almost every day, the importance of blogging correctly and inter-personal communication with other community members and developers.
  • Basics about our release infrastructure: developers commit, automation detects commit, it chooses slaves (virtual or physical machines) to build and run different tests.
  • Basics about stable branches and development branches. Naming of branches e.g. Gecko 1.9.1/Fx 3.5.x.
  • Covered daily used tools and what my day to day looks like with my work on bugzilla/patches.
  • Explained them my interview process and the company's working atmosphere. I also highlighted that my asset for my internship were the two projects I worked on school and specially my blog (my resume was meaningless!!). For reaching full-time position I believe that inter-personal skills (even though English is my 3rd language) and work diligence were quite important since technically I was not that strong and I made (and I still do) many mistakes.
Thanks to Dave Humphrey for raising important questions that students would not think at that moment to ask. I also thanks for the attention that many students payed while I talked and the questions they raised. I hope I was able to encourage them and get some eager and hard-working candidates for Mozilla internships.

I also attended partially to Ben's talk and this guy really knows our systems inside/out. It was also interesting to hear that Fedora had only one full-time Release Engineer and hundreds of volunteers for their project unlike us that we have ten full-time employees and very few volunteers from the community.

Cheers and see you at Seneca's symposium (FSOSS '09)!

Creative Commons License
This work by Zambrano Gasparnian, Armen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the write up.. I think all the people wanting to help with Firefox would find your points interesting and I believe some of it like getting the inter personal skills right and trying to figure out the rules of the game.. how things work.. is not easy for many newbies, even the testers trying to help the developers and not get in way. I know i tend to challenge and analyze bugs and cross bugs together, because I see the bigger issues of just trying to solve 1 bug separate from another results in various implementations of similar code for different tasks. If they were more informed about the implications of other bugs, we would save lots of developer time. But since we don't have time to be having to look around or find all the offline discussions about bugs, trying to be informed makes bugzilla almost like a forum for some, it becomes a way to communicate, and becomes single minded. If more bugs were tracked on a broader base (meta), we find many having similar underlining issues.. but its one bug here, one bug there..
    Object Orientated programming is an important part of software development, and not doing so, all to often causes regressions all over the place with people having to clean up over and over again.