Outreachy May 2024: A letter to Fedora applicants

To all Outreachy May 2024 applicants to the Fedora Project,

Today is May 2nd, 2024. The Outreachy May 2024 round results will be published in a few short hours. This year, the participation in Fedora for Outreachy May 2024 was record-breaking. Fedora will fund three internships this year. During the application and contribution phase, over 150 new contributors appeared in our Mentored Project contribution channels. For the project I am mentoring specifically, 38 applicants recorded contributions and 33 applicants submitted final applications. This is my third time mentoring, but this Outreachy May 2024 round has been a record-breaker for all the projects I have mentored until now.

But breaking records is not what this letter is about.

This day can be either enormously exciting and enormously disappointing. It is a tough day for me. There are so many Outreachy applicants who are continuing to contribute after the final applications were due. I see several applicants from my project who are contributing across the Fedora community, and actually leveling up to even bigger contributions than the application period. It is exciting to see people grow in their confidence and capabilities in an Open Source community like Fedora. Mentoring is a rewarding task for me, and I feel immensely proud of the applicants we have had in the Fedora community this round.

But the truth is difficult. Fedora has funding for three interns, hard and simple. Hard decisions have to be made. If I had unlimited funding, I would have hired so many of our applicants. But funding is not unlimited. Three people will receive great news today, and most people will receive sad news. Throughout this entire experience in the application phase, I wanted to design me and Joseph Gayoso’s project so that even folks who were not selected would have an enriching experience. We wanted to put something real in the hands of our applicants at the end. We also wanted to boost their confidence in showing up in a community and guide them on how to roll up your sleeves and get started. Looking at the portfolios that applicants to our project submitted, I admire how far our applicants came since the day that projects were announced. Most applicants never participated in an open source community before. And for some, you would never have known that either!

So, if you receive the disappointing news today, remember that it does not reflect badly on you. The Outreachy May 2024 round was incredibly competitive. Literally, record-breaking. We have to say no to many people who have proved that they have what it takes to be a capable Fedora Outreachy intern. I hope you can look at all the things you learned and built over these past few months, and use this as a step-up to the next opportunity awaiting you. Maybe it is an Outreachy internship in a future round, or maybe it is something else. If there is anything I have learned, it is that life takes us on the most unexpected journeys sometimes. And whatever is meant to happen, will happen. I believe that there is a reason for everything, but we may not realize what that reason is until much later in the future.

Thank you to all of the Fedora applicants who put in immense effort over the last several months. I understand if you choose to stop contributing to Fedora. I hope that you will not be discouraged from open source generally though, and that you will keep trying. If you do choose to continue contributing to Fedora, I promise we will find a place for you to continue on. Regardless of your choice in contributing, keep shining and be persistent. Don’t give up easily, and remember that what you learned in these past few months can give a leading edge on that next opportunity waiting around the corner for you.

Freedom, Friends, Features, First!

— Justin

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