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From Ross Gardler <>
Subject Re: Iput forOpen Source article on
Date Mon, 18 Apr 2011 15:28:36 GMT
On 18/04/2011 15:34, Helen Beckett wrote:
> Hi , Am writing a short feature Open Source for a IT career channel
> about  the skills needed to work in this area and the sort of careers
> available. Would someone be available to answer a few quick questions
> by email about the mentoring programme? On the assumption the answer
> might be yes (!) I've listed a couple below, just in case... Kind
> regards, Helen
> 1: How does the Apache mentoring programme work - the history,
> process and outcomes? [ie how many have been through it; what sort of
> projects join; the kind of input necessary  in terms of skills and
> hours; what does it lead to for the Apache apprentices?

How it works is documented at

The ASF has been a participant in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) since it 
started in 2005, so we already mentor a great many students each year. 
We’ve had great success with the GSoC and we applaud Google for leading 
the way. However, whilst the GSoC focuses on coding, at the ASF (and in 
most open source projects) non-code contributions are just as important 
as code contributions. Documentation, translations, design, testing, 
evangelism and many more activities do not require programming skills. 
In addition, the ASF Mentoring Programme is open to anyone, as opposed 
to GSoC, which only accepts formally enrolled students from universities.

In reality all our projects are mentoring newcomers all the time. That's 
what we do. People who come to us to be mentored are normally passed off 
to the relevant project community. The mentoring programme is just a 
geteway for those who don't know where to start.

Another aspect of the mentoring programme is to enable students in 
formal education to work on Apache projects as part of their studies. 
This can be difficult for their tutors to manage since they may not know 
how to evaluate a students performance. Out mentoring programme provides 
a support structure for the tutors as well. We are experimenting with 
this model through an EU funded project OpenSE

 > what sort of projects join;

Projects don't join the mentoring program, it's individuals who want to 
contribute to an ASF project. If a project wants to become an Apache 
project then they need to work through out Incubator at

 >the kind of input necessary  in terms of skills and hours; what does 
it lead to for the Apache apprentices?

We are not here to teach people computer programming, technical writing, 
testing etc. People are expected to either be reasonably confident 
already or willing and able to teach themselves. What we do help with is 
understanding how to engage with an open source project. How to get to 
grips with the tools we use and the code we write. How to work 
collaboratively and how to be a productive open source developer.

What the mentee gets out of it is really up to them. Our mentors are all 
volunteers. They are not interested in hand-holding people who are 
unwilling to put significant effort in. However, if someone comes to us 
with the desire to contribute we will help them do so. The ultimate goal 
should be to become a committer on an Apache project.

Being a committer is an indication that one knows how open source is 
developed here at Apache. It also indicates a deep understanding of the 
project in question and the respect of ones peers. All these things will 
make a CV stand out above all others.

Furthermore, work done here at the ASF is done in public. Potential 
employers can see this work, they can evaluate the mentees ability to 
work in a team and to contribute effectively. To some this might sound 
scary, but to those who put their minds to the problem in hand it is a 
big plus point in an interview situation.

It's also an education. To work alongside some of the best software 
developers in the world is an opportunity not avialable to most of us. 
I've certainly learned far more through being involved with the ASF than 
I have in anything else I have done.

Finally, working alongside the core maintainers of key software projects 
can make you far more effective in your day job. If you find you are 
using, for example, Apache Wicket in your company and you have a 
specific issue you need to address, being a committer on Wicket means 
you have access to the best minds and the tools with which to make your 
requirements a reality.

But we mustn't forget that our communities are fun communities. 
enhancing your career potential, learning new skills and strengthening 
your CV are all great. But to have fun whilst doing it is the real joy.

> 2: What sort of roles and careers are available to Apache
> programmers? Which sectors is it most in use etc

We have over 100 projects, many of which are fundamental parts of the 
modern IT world. There is no simple answer to this, it depends which 
projects you work on and what you do. If someone were looking at the ASF 
mentoring programme for career reasons then they should probably have an 
idea of what they want to achieve first. The ASF is a big place and its 
easy to get lost.

However, if someone were to come to us and say "I'm really interested in 
climate change, is there anything I can do here to enhance my 
employability as a software engineer in this space" then we can point 
them at the right projects and possibly connect them to people working 
in that space.

Let us know if you need any more info.

> Helen Beckett Freelance journalist 07976 633415 (m)

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