Outreachy: The Final Blog Post
This is the last in a series of six blog posts connected to the Outreachy internship.
I've been meaning to write this post for over two months now, but the very moment I took a step out of my cozy summer internship cocoon I was sucked into the vortex of neverending obligations, meetings, backlogs, and whatnot. And then my preschooler came home with a nasty cold/flu/whatever virus like it was a wide-eyed rescue kitten we just had to take in. Then I got behind on work, got sick with another virus, rinse and repeat. And here we are now, with the next round of Outreachy applicants already deep into the contribution period, and my final post still unwritten.
To be fair, I couldn't have written this post in the last weeks of my three-month internship at Wikimedia as I was supposed to. I was feeling too emotional, and it was only getting worse as the end was nearing. How did three months just fly by? I couldn't believe it was nearly over.
The absolute highlight of my internship was the weekly check-ins with Sarah and Isaac, my mentors. I had started counting them down: there's only two left, now one. This is the last one. Yes, the very last one. No, I am not tearing up.
There are hundreds if not thousands of good-quality resources out there to learn the tech stuff, you can mostly do it on your own. But mentorship is priceless. If you ask me, this is one of the best, if not the best, aspects of the Outreachy program.
So anyway, it's the final countdown, the third-to-last call and Sarah says "Hey, so there are a couple of open positions at Wikimedia we think you'd be a good fit for. I know you were maybe planning to do another internship first but why don't you apply?" I open one of the links. The job title is Software Engineer. It's an entry-level role, and the requirements listed are not too wild. Still, it seems more like a far-away dream than something that could actually materialize. Impostor syndrome sets in but what do I have to lose? And so I begin editing my resume.
A few days later, my application is ready to go. Both Sarah and Isaac have reviewed multiple versions of my cover letter and resume. Their feedback is always kind, encouraging, on point. I review everything one last time, then hit send.
On the very last day as an Outreachy intern, I have my first interview for the position. Interestingly, I'm never nervous during interviews but I'm really, really stressed out in the hours before. The last 5-10 minutes are the absolute worst and all I can think is I dooooon't want to doooo this!! But as soon as the call starts, I calm down. It's almost like the physiological dive reflex brought on by immersion in water: the heart rate slows, breathing slows, anxiety disappears and blood moves to where it's most needed, like the brain.
That's the first interview. And then there's another, and a third, and a fourth. And then finally one day, a job offer. GUYS, I GOT THE JOB AND I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE IT!! Sorry not sorry for shouting!
When I first found out about Outreachy, it was through someone's blog post. It seemed almost too good to be true. The first time I applied, I dropped out of the contribution phase in the first days; it was right when our first lockdown started here in France and I had too many other things to focus on. The second time, I submitted a final application but it turned out I wasn't eligible for the Winter round due to my student status. So this was my third go at it, and the stars finally aligned in my favor. Without Outreachy, I wouldn't be where I am today and so to say that I'm massively grateful would be a terrible understatement.
So this is both an end and a new beginning. Sarah and Isaac will no longer be my mentors, but they will be my coworkers. It's not goodbye, but hi again. And I hope to participate in Outreachy again one day but this time as a mentor.