Takeaways from Navendu Pottekkat’s session on “Building Your Career in Open-Source” at Open Source India .

Have questions? Comment below or reach out to me at @sudo_navendu .

You can also checkout this Twitter thread for a quick summary of my talk.


From new programmer in January 2020 to Full-time Open-Source in March 2021.

  • January 2020: Started learning to code full-time
  • March - April 2020: Started open-sourcing personal projects
  • August 2020: Built and scaled my first open-source project (Went on to get featured on Product Hunt and JS Weekly and got to #1 Trending on GitHub)
  • September 2020: Featured project at TFUG India
  • November 2020: Started contributing to Meshery
  • March 2021: LFX Mentee at Meshery (Layer5)
  • April 2021: Maintainer of Meshery
  • May 2021: GSoC Mentor at CNCF for Meshery
  • June 2021: Maintainer of Service Mesh Performance
  • July 2021: Full-time employee at Layer5
  • September 2021: LFX Mentor for CNCF


Key Takeaways

Getting Started in Open-Source

  1. Learn a skill or explore different area until you find what you want to skill up on
  2. Make your personal projects open-source even if it may not get wide adoption
  3. Learn Git and GitHub (see resources )
  4. Learn things in public

Building and Scaling Your Own Open-Source Projects

  1. Solve your problem; It is likely that others face the same problem too
  2. Use social media liberally to scale up your projects
  3. Leverage successful open-source business models (see resources )

Making Your First Contribution

  1. Find the projects you are interested in (see resources )
  2. Learn the skills needed to contribute
  3. Join the community of the project
  4. Read the contributing guidelines
  5. Grab a “good first issue” and fix it

Non-Code Contributions

  1. Writing: Articles, social media content, documentation
  2. Designing: Artworks for social media, creating style guides
  3. Testing/Using: Reporting bugs, advocacy, improving UX, alpha/beta testing
  4. Mentoring: Reviewing code, mentoring a contributor
  5. Community Managing/Organizing: Being a project manager, being a release manager, organizing events and meetups, helping onboard new Contributors

(See resources )

Levelling Up

  1. Find more ways to contribute
  2. Do what a maintainer is expected to do even if you aren’t a maintainer
  3. Pay it forward

Making Money

  1. Get an internship/paid mentorship (See resources )
  2. Get a full-time role

Getting Sponsored

  1. GitHub Sponsors, Patreon, Open Collective
  2. Apply for open-source grants
  3. Donating the project to a foundation


Referenced Surveys

Tutorials/ Additional Reading

If you liked the content of the session, follow me @sudo_navendu where I will be sharing more similar content.

More of my talks are in this playlist .