#2 Outreachy Reflection: The Struggling Newcomer

Nadinda’s Second Reflection of Outreachy Internship Application

I want to start this story with words of encouragement by Dory in Finding Nemo :
When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do?
Just keep swimming.
Just keep swimming.

Just keep swimming swimming swimming...
Being a newcomer is difficult, trying to break into a new field or unlock a new skill and hang in there long enough to survive. I don't know how many courses I have taken in various programming languages and I never felt I have firm enough foundation to start working as a software developer. And have you ever heard of Imposter syndrome? It was going strong during my first week of my Outreachy contribution period, trying to figure out how things work. While everyone seems to have figured out already what to do or even have submitted several Pull Requests, I was clueless and afraid to ask because I thought people would think my questions were dumb. But that's why a mentor plays a big role here.

A little rewind to the previous post, I told you that I introduced myself in each project's public chat room in the hope of getting a clue from the mentor about what to do next. Both projects I intended to apply for, Pontoon by Mozilla and Fractal by GNOME have a great community. I got my local environment set up ready on the same day I introduced myself to the group. But then I decided to drop Fractal because I realized I do not have enough knowledge in Rust and Gtk to really contribute anything to the project. Even though they listed 1 & 2 as their experience skill requirement, I feel like they expect their interns to already have experience in GNOME application. In addition to that, one of the mentor says this in the chat room.

It is overwhelming already to adjust my life in a new country, especially if your shoes get stolen on the second week. So I decided to laser-focus myself with the project I personally have attachment anyway which is Pontoon. It is so fun reading the translations while debugging Pontoon. Additionally I super lucky to have Matjaž Horvat to guide me along the way in making my contribution in Pontoon. He is really humble seeing the fact that he is the founder of Pontoon and has been working on it for a long time. He is also patient to help clueless learner like me solving my problem one by one while giving words of encouragement at the same time. I am forever grateful to have him as my mentor in my journey as a newbie programmer.

The major mistake I made during the first week of my Outreachy contribution period was not reaching out early and frequently enough to my mentor. I let my fear to be seen as a fool and hide myself out for a whole week when I couldn't figure out how to set my local environment properly. Instead of asking my mentor, I compared myself with the other applicants who had submitted their pull requests and felt more down because of it. Once I reached out to my mentor, he guided me step by step and I finally could solve the problem I've had for a week in just few minutes. He calmed me down by telling me that my first assigned bug is one of the hardest among the mentored bugs. It makes sense as it is a new feature not just a simple fix (Damn why did I pick it as my first bug). But now I am actually proud to make that new feature as my first pull request to a public repository. Even though at the end it is not my first patch (first merged pull request).
 That mistake also created a giant hole to my productivity. I could have used my 'hiding' time to fix more bugs, therefore make more contributions. But enough dwelling about it, hopefully you can learn something from my mistake. If it costs me the chance of getting accepted as Outreachy intern (hopefully not), it surely will haunt me forever. Anyway, I will still try my best and definitely not going to give up.

I would also like to make this as an appreciation post to myself for the little achievement I got on this Open Source journey. Feel free to share yours in comment section too! Let's celebrate together. Thank you for hanging there and Just Keep Swimming.

Nadinda's First Ever Pull Request is with Pontoon <3

Nadinda's First Patch on Pontoon!

At last, I always tried to find an experienced programmer as my mentor when I first decided to shift from business studies to programming, but it is harder than I thought to connect to one. And through Outreachy it definitely becomes easier because the mentors were prepared to help newcomers. So, as my final words for #2ndOutreachyReflection, I want you to go subscribe Outreachy mailing list for the next application opening to get the same experience of having an awesome mentor to help you.

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