Contributing to open source is nerve-wracking, especially if you are a beginner.

A couple of years ago, I was this nervous beginner. I had no work experience as a software engineer, but I was determined to learn by contributing to open source projects.

But which project do I contribute to? Where do I start? What if I’m not skilled enough?

As I sat puzzled by these questions, I stumbled across the Linux Foundation Mentorship Program.

The LFX Mentorship Program provides opportunities for mentees to work on open source projects. Experienced project contributors and maintainers will be the program’s mentors. Mentees will also receive a stipend during their term in the program.

I got selected as a mentee, received a full-time offer after the program, and returned to the program as a mentor.

Today, I work in open source full-time.

In this article, I will share how I got involved in the LFX Mentorship Program and its life-changing impact on my career and personal life.

Stumble Beginnings

After learning about the program on YouTube, I landed on the LFX Mentorship homepage. There, I found the answers to my questions.

I found the list of open source projects participating in the program. It showed me what the project is about, what skills they expect mentees to have, and everything else I need to get started.

I got interested in the Meshery project and joined its community. There were many helpful people there, and I started making small contributions. In a couple of months, I was learning new skills and making more impactful contributions.

I applied to be an LFX mentee for the project and was accepted. I was already contributing to the project, and being part of the program was a bonus.

My LFX mentee profile
My LFX mentee profile

I applied to three projects but did not try to work on the other two. Here’s my profile

Levelling Up

During the program, I developed skills to work on cloud native technologies. I learned to program in Go, built applications on Docker and Kubernetes and learned more about the ecosystem.

I also improved my communication skills by working in a global, async team. I was writing design specifications, user-facing documentation, and blog posts.

The program also opened a lot of opportunities to speak at international conferences, work with maintainers from top tech companies, and interact with other open source communities.

I gained the confidence to contribute to open source projects. Maybe it can be my career!

Full-Time Open Sourcerer

Making me realize that contributing to open source projects can be a career option was the most significant impact the LFX Mentorship Program had on me.

After the program, I received a job offer to work on Meshery and related projects.

🧙‍♂️ Getting paid to work on open source projects was (and is) the best. To this date, I don’t feel like I’m working at all. I’m doing things I like to do, and apparently, someone thinks it’s worth paying me for it.

Paying it Forward

The open source community is about paying it forward.

When I started as an open source contributor, a lot of people helped me. They answered my noob questions, corrected mistakes in my code, and guided me through projects and communities.

So, after being promoted to an open source maintainer, I joined back in the LFX Mentorship Program. This time, as a mentor.

My LFX mentor profile
My LFX mentor profile

You can see the transition on my profile

I learned a lot by being a mentor. I developed skills as a leader, and it opened up more career opportunities.

LFX, the Catalyst

The effect programs like LFX have on the open source ecosystem is monumental. As open source becomes the default way to build software, these programs help foster contributions from an ever-growing set of newcomers. And contributions from these newcomers ensure sustainability.

On the surface, the LFX Mentorship Program can look like any other internship program. But for someone without access to such opportunities because of where they are in the world, the program is highly impactful.

And based on the stats, more people are applying to the program and actively participating in open source. This, in turn, drives organizations to make more of their code free and open source.

So, apply to the program if you are interested in contributing to open source, especially if you are a student. If you are a seasoned contributor, participate as a mentor and pay it forward.

You can also check out other programs like LFX in 20+ Open Source Internship Programs that you can Apply to.