Excel in College by contributing to Open Source Projects
00:10 - Get into the driving seat in 2nd year 03:16 - Taste of 1st success is important 04:35 - How to go deeper into open source 06:20 - Open source ahead higher studies 07:10 - Community Builders and Writers - welcome 09:00 - Overcoming communication challenge 11:15 - Differentiate yourself from competition 12:35 - Just take the plunge
You don't have good teachers. Your classmates are simply not interested. You can't find a project to do. Are you facing these challenges?
Many tier-2 colleges have indifferent education where talent and passion are stifled.
You can build your own path forward, out of this, by joining and contributing to open source projects. Harsh Bardhan Mishra shows you the way, based on his own experience of last 1 1/2 years.
Harsh also recommends you check out this blogpost on stack overflow - to get started.
Brij: [00:00:00] Many tier-2 colleges have indifferent education where talent and passion are stifled. Many students want to switch over to programming and IT from other branches, but just not know what to do.
We may not be able to change the system overnight, but we can certainly provide a path to young people to take matters into their own hands and reshape their careers by getting actively involved in the open source movement, while in second or third year of college itself.
Future programmers are welcome, but they are not the only ones who are welcome.
If you want to do technical writing. If you’re good at forming active communities, this one is for you to too. Involvement in open source gives you a realistic idea of technology opportunities and how technology plays, early on in your career.
Based on your interests, you can then become good at coding. You can fix bugs, you can write persuasively, you can teach, you can consult. A guarantee. Your professional work ethic will improve. Meet Harsh Bardhan Mishra in the pre-final year of a tier two engineering college. He has been playing with open source for a little more than a year. He codes. He writes creatively. He leads communities. The whole world is his pond.
Harsh has been part of more than 10 technical communities and has founded tesseract coding T E S S E R A C T – a community that helps people to get started with coding and open source.
Welcome Harsh. Tell us about the time you first ventured into open source.
Harsh: [00:02:09] So my first taste with open source came in the year 2019. Um, I was a second year student who was pretty much ignorant about the world of open source and the value that it brings to our technical expertise. Through one of my seniors, I came to know about an annual program called Hactoberfest. And I came to know that through this program, we can be supported and guided to kickstart our journey with open source.
Just like any college student. I was pretty excited at the prospects of participating in this program. I started exploring multiple projects and this was when I landed my first contribution in one of the open source projects.
This contribution came nearly after three weeks of exploration and a lot of failed attempts. It was only through patience and the consistency that I was able to land my first contribution. As a student, the biggest risk is not taking any risk. So take the leap of faith and drive yourself towards a specific thing. Even if you fail, you will learn something new and that learning would stick to you more than anything else.
Brij: [00:03:16] How did you test your first success?
Harsh: [00:03:20] When I got to know that there is a hackathon in my college itself, I decided to give it a shot. I formed a team, went to the hackathon. I saw my college seniors, my own peers, and some of my juniors as well, working so hard on their projects.
And I simply felt I was a misfit there. Now these hackathons aren’t just project making competitions. We need to develop an idea pitch, a business model, a management life cycle that can make our product sustainable. Honestly, I knew nothing of that. With a lot of persistence – We started building our product. Working on it all the night and demonstrating it in front of the judges. And to our surprise, we came up as a runner-up winner. That experience took the fear and doubt inside us and made us realize the potential that we had.
Brij: [00:04:10] I think it’s wonderful to see both the things happening – Taking that leap of faith and then tasting your first success because both are milestones in the journey to moving forward. Harsh, I am also curious to know, uh, what did you then do to strengthen your involvement in the open source community? Because now you’re quite actively involved, right?
Harsh: [00:04:35] Yes, sir. So I started involving with open source communities last year in the month of March. I was a participant at one of the largest open source events in India. And at the end of the event, I got a two digit rank against thousands of participants all across India.
That experience taught me a lot about what open source communities are, because I worked with some of them during the program and how we can bring exact value by participating in these programs and working with communities.
It was at this time I started a community with some of my fellow Microsoft student partners, and this community was Tesseract coding.
The motive of this community was very simple. We wanted to bring a platform to help students get started with open source and development in an easy to go manner. From our experience, we realize that many beginners feel intimidated by this. So by the scope of the open source and don’t drive to explore, just because of the fear of failing. To help tackle that we brought in multiple sessions – programs to teach them various technologies and kick-started our flagship project, which has over 300 contributors from across the world now
So to strengthen in our involvement, we started to work with the contributors and helping them giving necessary feedback on how they can improve their skills. Making meaningful contributions and following the best open source practices.
I certainly feel proud to state that some of my past participants, past mentees have gone above and beyond and building their own projects in open source, Publishing their first research paper and more. This experience brings the primary reason on why I involve myself with open source and why I decided to help others get started with open source as well.
Brij: [00:06:20] Actually, you mentioned that you can also do enough good work to publish papers, if you get involved in open source. For those of our friends who are looking for admissions into, uh, their master’s programs, sometimes having a good paper to your name makes all the difference. And, this is perhaps a way you can strengthen your application also by applying, uh, After you have done some work and published a paper.
Harsh, I’m also curious about what happens to those who might have interest in writing or in creative expression. Is there a place in the open source world for such people to sharpen their craft?
Harsh: [00:07:10] There is a lot of place for people who want to get started with designing, with writing and with all that stuff, because open source is supported by contributors and unless and until, these contributors are given a perfect place to start most of the open source projects, simply die off.
If we take the example of large scale, open source projects, we might see that they are supported by an active group of people who form a community and this community, not only codes, they also write documentation. They write examples. They write articles. They make designs so that it becomes easy for the other people to use the software and also to know about the software.
So if you’re someone who is coming from a creative background. And who doesn’t want to get involved with programming, at first. You can simply get started with documentation. You can get started with user interface and user experience design – because these are good places for you to start with open source, in a very easy to go, and a guided manner. And never fret about not contributing enough just because you can’t code. These things are one of the toughest things to see from a technical perspective. And if you are contributing, even on those terms, you can simply grow with an open source community. You have a lot of things to do. Open source has a lot of places where you can work on. So just find your niche and start working on the same.
Brij: [00:08:30] Yeah Harsh. You are so right!
Harsh: [00:08:35] Perhaps the one valuable lesson that I have learned over the time is to cherish our journey. We will have our success. We will have our feelings, but overall, we will gain some good experience out of this whole journey.
Brij: [00:08:50] Harsh, I’m sure you would have faced many challenges and difficulties. With our listeners, could you share at least one challenge that you’ve had working
Harsh: [00:09:00] A challenge that I overcame. Uh, and it is perhaps the single largest barrier, not only for me, but for hundreds and thousands of engineering undergraduates, and it is communication. People often joke that engineers can build large scale applications, but they can’t even explain the basic ideas to others.
And while we joke about this particular thing we miss out on a large scale problem that most college education doesn’t cover. It is – building proper communication skills. Communication, isn’t just about speaking. It’s about how well we can put forward our ideas, suggestions and plan up things in a collaborative effort.
Without communication things quickly fall out of place. We will not be able to work in a team. We will not be able to explain something well, and this is detrimental for any young professional starting in their career.
So I had this problem for a long, long time. And it required intensive practices to even speak something before someone or a group of people.
Once I started involving it with open source communities, I realized that I can improve my communications skills by talking to a lot of people, who don’t share the same language or culture as mine. They range from age groups of 12 years of age till even 50 years of age. Some of my past internships – my managers were from USA and UK. Some of my co-ambassadors are from Bangaladesh, Pakistan and Russia. And some of the teams I have worked with have people from Europe, Russia and even Africa. So that has been pretty much a holistic experience which I couldn’t have gained, if I was not involved with open source communities. This made all the difference.
Brij: [00:10:45] I am actually very aware of, how good you are at respectfully engaging, not only with people, much older than you, but with people across different spectrums. And if a part of this has become strong because of open source movement – In my opinion, that itself is reason enough by itself, to engage more in this kind of thing, even for others.
Harsh, is there anything else you would like to add to this?
Harsh: [00:11:15] Uh, I would like to add one last thing. So as a college student, if I look back at my studies for the past three years, I realized that I have focused a lot of my initial time on things that I don’t even think about right now.
And this is not just academics, but also our perspectives about career and starting as a professional.
However, we fail to realize one thing. Which is, unless and until we take the extra step we would forever be lingering in the thought mode and never convert that into some action. We should always know and understand about potential.But also remember that we can translate it into kinetic.
Competition is nearly everywhere. And it is a modern risk created by people, not just in academics, but also in the corporate world. And when we realize the fact that, how we wasted a lot of our time working on things that don’t deserve our attention.
How we stopped being creative and we’re simply pushed in a rat race and how we could have explored so much, but now end up with so little.
If I had not come out of the race a few years back to focus on something that I was really passionate about, and that really mattered to me, I would have never landed at this place.
So everything that happened was just because I decided to take a leap of faith with an understanding that even failures can teach us more than success.
Brij: [00:12:35] Do not hesitate to take that first step. When a part of you is still afraid. When a part of you is still objectively evaluating, just take the plunge. Commit to doing something you’re only half sure you can do. And then see the magic happen!
Thank you so much Harsh.
Harsh: [00:12:55] Thanks Sir, for having me for this podcast.
Brij: [00:13:00] If you liked this podcast, do subscribe to our weekly episodes. Please also visit www.readytowork.in for more insights on career readiness.
I am your host Brij Sethi and this is the ready to work podcast. The podcast with success secrets for the young tech professional.