Our first ever Outreachy Internship

Today we’re excited to announce that Hisayo Horie will be working with us for the next 3 months in our Outreachy Internship position.

Before we introduce Hisayo, and the project we’ll be working on together, let us tell you a little about how the Outreachy application process has gone since our announcement blog post just six weeks ago.

This is the first time we’ve been part of this program, or any internship program, and we were extremely impressed by the applicants’ skills, determination, creativity, and spirit of collaboration. We’re grateful for their patience with us during the application process and through the wait for this announcement.

42 people contacted us about the program. 20 submitted applications and 8 completed the application process by getting their contributions merged to our projects through GitHub.

A special thanks to Akriti Verma, Anishka Gupta, Ekaterina Semenova, Esther Monchari, Hisayo Horie, Keerti Guatam, Shreya Sonawane, and Tanuja Sawant. Just getting setup to work on our projects can be hard and you all contributed code that’s now running in our projects and improving the experience for thousands of people who use them each day. You should be extremely proud. Thank you!

We were spoiled for choice by these applicants and wish we could offer more than one position for this round of Outreachy. The applications were thoughtful and presented a great range of skills and experience. A number of our applicants are leading projects to share their skills and fight marginalisation in their local areas. Everyone took feedback constructively through the process and we saw rapid improvements in applicants’ code quality, communication, and understanding of our process.

We hope that the challenging application process was a valuable learning experience for everyone. We’re here to continue giving feedback and merging contributions. To anyone reading, if you’ve been wanting to get involved in projects like ours please check out our good for first contribution issues and you are welcome to contact us directly. These contributions count towards future Outreachy rounds and are a great way to build experience in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Subscribe to this blog for updates about our future Outreachy participation.

Huge thanks to the Outreachy co-ordinators for all their support and advice throughout the application process.

This is the first time Outreachy has included an Australian based organisation and that connection is thanks to linux.conf.au where we heard about the program from Karen Sandler. Another huge thanks to everyone who generously donated to Outreachy at linux.conf.au and to Linux Australia for directing a portion of those funds to our Outreachy position.

We’ll be following up soon with a post about our experience of the Outreachy application process. We’re talking FOSS here so naturally we want to be open and share what worked well and what didn’t.

Introducing Hisayo

Throughout the whole application process we had a great experience getting to know Hisayo, a web developer based in Toronto with a background in environmental studies. Hisayo’s twitter profile says “anything involves storytelling, social justice and technology are my jam”—sounds good to us!

Hisayo selected “Make an easy way for volunteers to contribute information about elected local councillors so we can help people write to them etc.” as their project to work on over the three month program. Our motivation with this project is to support the feature of PlanningAlerts that helps people to write to their local councillors about planning applications. There’s over 5000 local councillors in Australia so it’s not feasible for us to keep the data up-to-date without some serious help from volunteers. Our existing contribution process is way too difficult. We need to make it easy for interested people in an area (PlanningAlerts users for example) to keep their local councillor list up-to-date.

We’ll be working on the project together though the Outreachy Internship period from May 30 to August 30. As always we’ll be looking to deploy something useful as quickly as possible and then iterate from there—expect to see lots of updates if you’re following along.

Like all our top applicants Hisayo’s code contributions made solid improvements for the people using our projects. Hisayo went even further by deeply exploring the problem that their chosen project aims to fix. They asked lots of questions and updated the local councillor information for Victoria’s Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

On top of this, Hisayo has a background in activism against the exclusion of citizens from democratic processes, a problem PlanningAlerts aims to respond to. Hisayo’s application eloquently articulated how specific groups of people are marginalised from local planning processes in Toronto. These same issues exist in Australia.

Hisayo even pushed the project further by proposing we “diversify the data from the beginning, not as an afterthought”:

Diversifying data, for me, means inviting in people who are historically marginalized and excluded from conversations around technology and information, and intentionally building data structures that reflect those voices and lived experiences.

Hisayo is really thinking about how the design of technology impacts society. We’re excited to learn from Hisayo and see these ideas implemented in this project. The FOSS world will greatly benefit from having more people like Hisayo leading the way. It’s our pleasure to get to play a part in that.

Hisayo will be sharing their ideas and experiences through fortnightly blog posts as part of the Outreachy program. Subscribe to stay in the loop.

This entry was posted in Announcement, Outreachy, PlanningAlerts.org.au and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Cheyenne
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more! Hisayo is a treasure and any team would be lucky to have her! Best of luck! :)

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