Cool Careers in Open Source: Sharing our stories at Grace Hopper

Over the last few years, Hyperledger has sponsored the annual Anita Borg Grace Hopper Celebration (GCH) supporting our existing member companies as well as leaders and future women technologists in our global community. In 2021, as part of our Diversity, Civility and Inclusion WG objectives, we will continue to form partnerships  with women-led initiatives centered around recruitment and engagement like Anita Borg.

For those of you who have not attended, the Grace Hopper Celebration is an experience like no other. In normal years, the event centers around the grand hall, full of hundreds and hundreds of booths, wholly focused on recruiting women technologists. There is an audible buzz in the air as the thousands and thousands of young women walk the floor, dash to their next scheduled interview or head to the another thought-provoking session. For women in technology, the feeling that GHC evokes is hard to beat elsewhere.

GHC brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront and highlights the contributions of women to the tech world. The event results in collaborative proposals, networking, and mentoring for all attendees. And, for many of us senior executives,  walking alongside the next generation of women leaders in technology in the halls, in the lunches and events and collaboration sessions creates a renewed sense of optimism. We feel and see hope in these young, aspiring technologists.  

As was the case for most  global events in 2020,  GHC, which took place in September, was virtual this year.  Although you can never replicate an in-person event, especially one that is so focused on networking and building lifelong relationships with your fellow female technologists, the Linux Foundation workshop on “Cool Careers in Open Source” certainly had some of that feeling when the session began. It was clear from the start that something special was going to take place when over 500 attendees joined the session. And, when prompted to say hello as they came in, shared in chat their names and where they were joining from in a fast and furious stream of chats that sparked a few minutes of joy that you can see the speakers react to as the video starts. 

The goal of the session was to help attendees learn how open source software is used by major motion picture studios like Netflix and Industrial Light & Magic for visual effects and by major retailers like Walmart in industry shaping blockchain-based networks. 

So a large and eager attendee base mingled  with a very cool list of speakers that spanned across four different parts of the Linux Foundation for a lively discussion about how open source software is everywhere. As a result, chances are high that young women entering the tech workforce  will be writing, deploying, or administering open source  and that candidates with experience in open source will stand out to hiring managers. Speakers and attendees all shared background, tips and resources and responded to a lot of great questions. The video below captures the discussion of how to get involved in open source at the start of one’s career:

Representing Hyperledger  
Archana Sristy, Sr. Director- Blockchain Platforms, Walmart Global Tech and Hyperledger Governing Board Member

Representing Academy Software Foundation (ASWF)
Carol Payne, Imaging Specialist Netflix
Rachel Rose, R&D Supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic, Co-Chair ASWF Diversity & Inclusion Working Group

Representing Cloud Native Foundation (CNCF)
Priyanka Sharma, General Manager CNCF

Representing Linux Foundation Training
Mary Campbell, Sr. Manager of Corporate Training at the Linux Foundation

The message was clear: open source software has the potential to level the playing field when it comes to diversity and inclusion – communities are open to everyone, it’s a meritocracy, and there are ample opportunities to build your resume and network while working alongside developers and engineers from forward-thinking companies that are part of the Linux Foundation like Walmart, Netflix, Disney, Microsoft, AT&T, Toyota, Uber, and more. There are thousands of communities out there where you can get started, learn new skills, develop/refine those skills, and gain experience that can lead to careers in tech, retail, motion pictures, banking, automotive, and more.

Here are just some of the resources available to anyone interested in getting involved in open source in the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger community:

Training – Gain marketable open source skills with the Linux Foundation

Training is an on-ramp to opportunity in the software development industry, especially in open source. 93% of hiring managers are unable to find enough individuals with the open source skills they require. Take advantage by gaining in-demand skills and set yourself up for a successful long-term career. 

The Linux Foundation Training & Certification catalog has 32 free courses available across various technologies, including key introductory ones like A Beginner’s Guide to Open Source Software Development (LFD102-Free), as well as training and certifications from beginners to advance that you can purchase.

For Hyperledger, check out our free Blockchain Essentials Courses as well as our growing list of trainings and certifications. When you are ready to jump into the community, please watch our short “Getting Involved with Hyperledger” video.

Mentorship – Make personal connections that drive success

Mentorship plays an important role in advancing everyone’s career. Sharing experiences, connections and ideas flattens learning curves and, especially in open source, drives innovation and success on the individual and community level. Mentorship is a particularly powerful way to help grow and shape individual careers through personal relationships. 

To make the power of mentorship more widely accessible, the Linux Foundation has many programs that all have diversity-specific opportunities:

Below are excerpts from the online Q+A with guidance  our cool panelists offered during the panel. Listen in on the video to hear the full discussion!!

“I would say explore as much as you can, expand your network. Don’t be afraid to take classes and try things not directly in your major – you never know what you’ll enjoy. Don’t stress too much about specializing if you don’t want to.” 

“Great question! Early in my schooling and my career, being involved in open source really helped me understand what it is like working in a larger code base. I learned a lot from other developers about engineering design and became more confident about having others review my code. These are skills that are directly applicable to my day-to-day work. The networking that comes from contributing to open source also can’t be overemphasized!”

“I believe anyone can pick up the skills! The job I have now I didn’t have any training on in school. Use the skills and what you learned in CS and jump in if you’re passionate – don’t be afraid to start entry level – you learn so much that way! “

“Open source is open source! Contributions are always welcome – jump in and get involved! All projects have contribution guidelines that are there to make sure the project rules are followed. As you start to contribute more, most projects have opportunities to get involved in the leadership / core contributions of the project.”

“Open source contributions always look good on a resume, provide new skills, and help you network! However, there’s not a direct way to apply to work in open source. My job at Netflix just happens to rely heavily on open source software which means I get the opportunity to contribute as a part of my job!”

How you can help make the community more welcoming

Participation and sponsorship of events alone won’t make Hyperledger a community where everyone feels included, although it is one way we can support diversity. There are certainly other things that can be done to make Hyperledger more inclusive and diverse, and we welcome your input on what else we should be doing. Please feel free to post to the Diversity Civility and Inclusion mailing list, or join our regular DCI calls with your suggestions and ideas.

PS. Big shout out to Ramona “Spielberg,” an 11-year-old future something, with some impressive video editing skills for helping her mom (VP World Wide Alliances at the Linux Foundation) with editing the zoom recording for sharing.