4 answers

Will my contributions to open source software look good on a resume?

Asked New Orleans, Louisiana

I am a college student pursuing a degree in computer information technology. I currently work part time as an I.T. consultant, but I may pursue programming as a career post graduation. In my spare time, I enjoy contributing code to open source software on GitHub and Launchpad. Will my contributions on open source software be to my benefit on potential programming-related job applications and interviews? Would it be worth my time to make meaningful contributions to more open source software? #software #programming #open-source

4 answers

Ollie’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

Yes, having an account on github or launchpad is like having a portfolio if you're an artist. It's excellent. It shows you have done some good stuff. It's good to build up this body of work.

But, don't get obsessed with this to the detriment of your other college activities. You'll have a lifetime to build up your github account, but you'll only have access to your college's faculty and other resources for a little while longer. Exploit that access!

Your existing github / launchpad accounts prove the point that you're serious about software. This gives you the freedom to spend the rest of your college time really stretching yourself. Take some classes that open you up to new ways of thinking. They could include advanced math, history of medical science, who knows what? Something completely different. The kind of perspective you'll get from that will be very helpful to you 15 years from now when you're ready to start your own business.

Updated
Hi Mr. Jones, Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. You make a good point about utilizing my college's resources whilst I have them; I will do my best to use them to the fullest. I have already spent time in a handful of art, history, sociology, and geology courses to expand my horizons, and have not regretted it. Might you have any suggestions for other platforms to explore for contributing to open source software (aside from aforementioned GitHub and Launchpad)? Thank you again, Eric J.

Eric’s Answer

Updated Cambridge, Massachusetts

Absolutely! Any contributions you make have all kinds of great effects. In particular, it means that the companies you interview with can actually see some of your code in the wild, instead of just having to go off your assertions about how great you are or a few 45-minute coding sessions. It also shows that you are not just a coder, but a software engineer, capable of adding to an existing project, presumably working with its owners to ensure you are in line with their visions and values. It shows you are willing to contribute to a community, likely in a way that betters some part of the world, in your own time, which reflects well on you as a person.

I always appreciate it when a resume has a link to real code, like a Github account.

So, yes, I certainly would expect it to be to your benefit and worth your time.

Ollie’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

An addition to my other answer: other source repository hosting services besides github and launchpad are probably domain-specific.

For example, if you create a plugin for WordPress, you'll use their repository. If you contribute to some established open-source project, you'll use that repo.

Christopher’s Answer

Updated
The short answer: Yes. Contributing to open source has several benefits to you professionally. One, it demonstrates that you can write readable code. Two, it shows that you know how to use standard tools, such as revision control. Third, it shows that you can work with others to discuss your proposed changes, and to come to agreement around incorporating them into a code base. I would contend that the latter two are more important than the first, as it shows that you have the skills needed to work well with others.