Mentorship in Action: Hyperledger 2019 Summer Program Recap

Summer is nearing its close and it’s time to give an update on the Hyperledger Mentorship Program. This year 17 projects proposed and approved by the community connected 25 mentors and 17 mentees from around the globe to contribute their enthusiasm, time, and experience toward building a sustainable Hyperledger community. The Hyperledger Mentorship Program is also a part of the broader effort at the Linux Foundation to increase community health and diversity through CommunityBridge.

The Hyperledger program has grown significantly in size and impact since its launch two  years ago:

  • The program has increased from six projects and mentees in 2017 to 17 in 2019.
  • The number of mentors has also grown from six in 2017 to 25 in 2019.
  • The pool of applicants has increased from approximately 60 in 2017 to 300+ in 2019.
  • This year’s 25 mentors come from organizations big and small, from startups and well established companies to nonprofits including academic institutions, volunteering their time to teach and mentor while sharing their passion for the technology.
  • The mentee cohort is also diverse as it includes students at every higher-education level from the community college to the post-graduate research program seeking hands-on learning opportunities to advance their academic and professional pursuits in the blockchain space. 
  • Projects this year range from adding a component to a current Hyperledger project to creating a brand new Hyperledger Labs project to improving the interoperability and scalability of existing Hyperledger projects.
  • Former mentees from 2017 and 2018 have landed jobs at RedHat and Facebook, become active contributors to Hyperledger Projects and maintainers of Hyperledger Labs, mentored this year’s mentees, and reflected thoughtfully about their experience and journey of becoming a Hyperledger contributor.   

The program is intentionally designed to help university student mentees, many of whom are first-time open source contributors, navigate what can initially seem like an overwhelmingly vast open source community so they can experiment, learn, and contribute effectively. These structural elements include: 

  • Mentor and mentee onboarding that emphasizes the learning outcome of immersing in open source tooling, infrastructure, culture, and norm to be an effective contributor
  • Crowdsourcing, documenting, and referencing explementary attributes of successful mentorship and effective menteeship 
  • Project planning that includes project goals, objectives, deliverables, milestones , and tasks to be worked out collaboratively between mentors and mentees during the first two weeks of the program and posted on the wiki. A well-defined project plan holds everyone accountable for what’s agreed upon and provides a clear framework toward progress in a transparent way. 
  • Requiring project presentations to an audience of other mentees, mentors, and Hyperledger staff to sharpen both presentation skills and to cultivate the ability to provide constructive feedback and critique that’s the norm in the open source community for developing technologies collaboratively and openly.
  • Evaluating work on a quarterly cadence tied to milestone deliverable schedules that help mentors and Hyperledger staff formalize and respond to progress.

Thanks to great guidance from the mentors and exceptional levels of motivation, independence, and resourcefulness on the part of the mentees, the eight  full-time mentees have recently completed their projects with flying colors, and the part-time mentees are on track to complete their projects mid-November. The eight  full-time mentees’ recently wrote about the projects and reflected on their experiences. You can read their individual closing blogs here.

I am also pleased to share that the mentees who successfully complete their projects this year will be invited to attend the 2020 Hyperledger Global Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. This is another element we intentionally put in place to help mentees professionalize, network, and forge the relationships needed for long term contributions in the community.

To close this blog, here are a few words from a 2019 mentor and mentee:

“In open source, I have found mentorship is very important, and I have had some great guidance from people inside IBM and outside. These people helped me find my voice and showed me how to navigate open source development to be a productive member of  the community.” – Swetha Repakula, mentor for Running Web Assembly Smart Contracts in Fabric

“Before this internship I mainly worked on theoretical blockchain and cryptography research at Purdue University, and this internship gave me a perfect balance between development and research.” – Jason You, mentee for Hyperledger Caliper visualization

If you’re from a Hyperledger member company, check out these mentees’ LinkedIn profiles and their outstanding work on the wiki. If you’re an aspiring university student or community member, check out this year’s projects and read about the mentees individual blogs as you imagine the possibility of joining us on this journey next year.