If you are a software developer and still thinking about whether you should contribute to Open Source Software Projects or not, and what are the benefits there for you then this article is mainly for you. Even if you are still a student, and learning programming languages, then also you should consider contributing to Open Source Software, but why? we will answer that later. You may not know that more than 50% of professional coders are working in some open-source software in their free time. Even many university students are out there who are pushing codes to open source repositories regularly. You might be wondering, why do students contribute to Open Source Projects, when they are not getting paid for doing so.
So, another question arises why such people work on Open Source Projects, even without getting a penny? The point is they love to code to bring new ideas into life, however, many developers do work on FOSS projects because of professional interest. In this article, I am going to express why I think any new learner or an intermediate level or even professional software programmers should contribute to Open Source Projects.
How Open Source Codes are beneficiary for the Community
The open-source projects are made for everyone. After the development is completed the software application comes to the market or internet, from where anyone can download and use that software for free. This promotes the use of genuine software on one hand; while on the other hand, it tackles the bad practice of monopoly business in the software industry. Free software applications are also very helpful for any new start-ups or micro-scale enterprises, where the budget normally stays extremely low. The open-source software applications are also good for students for learning purposes, as most of them can not pay for premium-level commercial software options.
So, the development of Open Source Software projects is very helpful for the development of the overall community itself. On the other hand, the contributors also gain many professional benefits and advantages due to the experience of working on Free and opensource projects.
1. Practice Makes a Man Perfect
Programming is one of those things which requires a lot of practice to master. If you keep practicing the textbook stuff only, then you would not learn how to tackle real-life coding problems. Also, the limit of your imagination won’t be expanding if you keep yourself tied to the academic course itself.
To learn more and to practice more one must access the scope of working on live projects. Now working on live projects as an intern in some reputed IT farm may become a pain. As getting employed with an internship facility is not easy always, also there you have to follow strict office timing rules and you may have to do other stuff to cope up with other employees.
However, in the FOSS projects, you can spend your spare time according to your schedule. You can work on many live projects with many other experienced people in the software developing field, which will hone your programming skills and also improve your network.
GitHub is the most popular Open Source Repository for all the Open Source Contributors. You can access the other programming codes stored as open-source repositories; you can fetch those codes to read, analyze, understand, and even can upgrade them according to your ideas and understanding.
This way, a beginner programmer can learn more from other people in the community. As learning is the best thing one can do in life, so using such Open source repositories and Projects are very good for your practice and learning.
Furthermore, you could apply all the coding stuff you learned academically, which will enhance your skills and helps you to grow actually as a software developer even before getting employed.
2. Service to the Community
If you are about to become an IT professional, then respecting the field is a basic duty of yours. Contributing to the FOSS projects lets you do the same. By working on the Open Source Projects you would be enhancing your skills as well as you would be improving the base of your knowledge. On the other hand, you are developing the industry itself, which is beneficial to all the persons related to the field and also to the user of those applications. By adding value to the community and the industry you would be enriching it even more. And by making something for someone else you would be doing a noble job, which is fun on the one hand and educational on the other hand.
3. Build a strong Resume
When you would start looking for a job, the resume of yours is going to speak for yourself more than you. Especially the first job which would be very crucial for many of the recently passed graduates.
In the present world where a huge number of Engineering graduates and other IT Majors are passing out each year from the university, landing the first job is becoming harder, as the no. of jobs around the world is increasing at a very slow rate.
Therefore, building a strong resume can give you an edge over others. If you managed to mention some real-life job experiences in your resume and being a recently graduated candidate, that is going to attract many of the employers’ attention.
So, if you working on one or more live Open Source Projects, you may not get paid but you would be acknowledged with the credits and that can be mentioned in the resume. It is going to give you a lot more chances to get a real job, even sooner than your meritorious batch mate.
Thus, working on Open Source Projects is very helpful for building a strong resume and for pioneering a good career in the field. This is the main reason why most of the people do work on Open Source Projects, even after being employed.
4. Build a Strong Network
While getting into the projects, you can find many other people working on the same projects, and you may be able to communicate with them. This way, you would not only get a chance to work with a bunch of professionals but also building a social circle for yourself, which may prove useful for you in the future.
In various discussion threads and in many group-oriented developments works you can find other people, some of them may be on the same page as you, while some of them can be way more experienced. You can make new friends there or find a new mentor for yourself. This will improve your skills to work as a team.
You can stay in touch with them personally even after the project is over so that you can explore many other job opportunities through those friends. Such a professional community builds up people do rely on social media like LinkedIn, so, if you have ever worked with them, they would recommend you on such professional social networks.
Remember, in the corporate professional world, many of the approaches do happen every day due to recommendations only, so developing a strong social circle related to your professional field is going to help you one way or another for sure.
5. Developing Confidence
In any field, just becoming a master of the art is not enough, but feeling confident counts even more than that. If you are not confident enough, you may get rejected in the interview. This even could lead you to not get the preferred project or position even after landing a job. To feel confident and to be dominant in the field you need a lot of practice. Yes, only with a lot of practice you can get involved with your work more.
The more you get involved with it, the more you spend time behind the steering wheel, the more confident you become. Only with an ample quantity of real-life practice on live projects can make the coding job a walk in the park. To develop such confidence no company, not even the smallest enterprises would give you opportunities to practice on their live projects. That is easy to have in the case of Open Source Projects. So, again the FOSS is very-very helpful for building a good career and confidence.
6. Learn about the Latest Technologies
Also, in most of the cases, students are unaware of how to make an overall software application by himself, due to lack of conception and creativity. In such a scenario, working on FOSS projects will help to know about the applications which are being used in the present-day industry, with such knowledge upon those applications and operations is going to give you a huge edge in any technical job interview.
Furthermore, when you start working with the live projects, you begin to understand slowly how the overall circle works. With a good understanding of the overall job (not only the coding but of the overall development process), you would be able to become a complete “software engineer package”. If you are still confused, then think about those people who are still a programmer, on the same pay-scale even after 10 years of experience. If you do not want to be one like them, then this is how you could improve your skills, and conception over the job and the field.
The best thing one can do is learning, and working on FOSS projects just let you do that with many others, which is going to put real-life effects on many people’s daily computing jobs. Apart from all the above points, there is one more which is “developing a productive hobby.” Yes, nowadays many people have such coding hobby, and if you love to code, in your spare time then FOSS projects are a goldmine for you. So, keep coding, keep learning, and keep making the world a better place. If you are interested in, why a company should seek the contribution of Open Stacks and Repositories, then read our other article on that topic.