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Open source?

 
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I am not going to lie, the primary reason for this thread is a little greedy.  I was reading today that an employer will look at your GitHub account to assess the number and quality of contributions to open source projects.  As an awesome benefit to that, it would be a great way to learn from experienced coders.

On to my question...  Can anyone recommend any good open source projects for a beginner?  Any they are working on?  Or even a site that allows you to search for open source for beginner projects?

On a side not to this.  I currently own and host with HostGator a website "www.codeeverything.net"  at the moment there is nothing there.  I was thinking I would like to find a really good idea for a new open source project and build (have help building) a site around the project.  What are your thoughts on this?  Has anyone got a great idea they were already thinking about doing this with?  I would be happy to partner with people from here and offer the use of the hosting free of charge (as long as I am part of the project).

I have the site because I designed a few sites for friends and hosted it there for a short time before they payed and transferred it to their own hosting provider.   I intend to make a subdomain that my name points to where I want to make a personal bio/blog page but that won't be codeeverthing.net.


FYI to admin I am not taking your people or making a site similar, It just happens to be a cool name I liked.  If you have any issues with this post please let me know and it will not happen again!!

 
 
Marshal
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Don't take this the wrong way but here's a bit of a reality check:

Claiming to contribute to an open source project is a double edged sword. From an employer's point of view, the claim will certainly pique some interest in a candidate. However, that interest has to be rewarded convincingly, otherwise, the disappointment of not living up to expectations could be quite a turnoff. As far as expectations go, the open source project would have to be a relatively well-known one to be even worth considering. The project should also be one known for its quality and usefulness. You'd also need to have your changes actually be accepted by the open source project's committers (the guys who are in charge of reviewing and accepting contributions) and merged back into the project.

A more realistic goal would be to learn from code written by many very experienced programmers. This is actually what I do myself. You can learn a lot from reading other people's code and you can learn even more from reading code written by very skilled and knowledgeable craftsmen.

Putting a small portfolio of programs up on GitHub is also not a bad idea. You can use that to showcase what you can do.

When I got my first job as a fresh college graduate (I actually interviewed for the job I eventually landed two months before graduating), I only brought along a case of 5.25" floppy disks that contained a small portfolio of my best programs. This was back in the late 80s so no GitHub yet, just those old 5.25" floppy disks. There are two multinational pineapple growing/processing companies on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. You've probably heard of both of them: their names start with "D". I went for an interview at one of those companies dressed in jeans, a T-Shirt, no socks, and dusty docksiders. I had just picked up my dad from the airport, a two-hour drive from our hometown, in an open canopy Jeep. I walked into the main administrative building, was shown to the MIS department, weathered some incredulous stares from a row of programmers banging away at their noisy old IBM 3270 terminals, demoed my programs (which ran on PCs), had a short talk with a supervisor and the department head, and promptly got an offer. I didn't even get to attend my college graduation ceremony. A week after that interview, I got a similar offer from the other pineapple company, to whom I had only sent a letter of application with attached screen shots (literally, photos taken of my monitor at home, glued onto sheets of bond paper and manually captioned with a Bic® ballpen) of those same programs. I didn't even get to go for an interview in person or by phone. I guess the work spoke for itself.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, you don't need to contribute to an open source project to build up a portfolio that will impress employers. Just having a portfolio of decent looking code should be enough to pique their interest. But the best way to land a good job is to go for an audition, because that's what the more progressive companies do these days. That's what I do when hiring people and that's what a growing number of companies in the US and elsewhere do as well. An audition is when you go in for anywhere from a couple of hours to a whole day, to work with the team you are being considered as a candidate to join. In the audition, you'll be given a task to complete. You'll have to work with one or more people from the current team to complete that task. They will evaluate your every move, everything you say, every line of code that you write, every design decision that you make. It's nerve-wracking, very challenging, and a very effective way of separating the Wheat from the Chaff.

If you really want to bone up in preparation for vying for a job in this line of work, then I suggest you practice for this kind of selection process. Even if you don't get a chance to go for an audition, preparing for it will only make you a better candidate. My hit rate as of the last two years of doing this kind of thing has been around 1 out of 15 to 20 people. That is, only 1 out of 15 to 20 people who go through this kind of process with me eventually get hired on to my team.

I hope this encourages and challenges you more than it scares or discourages you.

Good luck.
 
Dwayne Barsotta
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Thank you for your reply and I agree 100% percent for you.  The main reason I was looking into this was more from learning with more experience programmers by watching them work on team projects.  I felt by possibly branching projects and updating as they go to see changes, even if I don't get to contribute anything I will have the opportunity to learn something about how things are actually done in the field.  This is the primary reason for following some interesting open source projects.  A side effect is that on the off chance I get the opportunity to contribute some beneficial code to the project then it will look good (possibly).

I am a realist, I am also a 40-year-old diesel technician that has only been playing with computer languages for years. I was approved to attend the University of Windsor Computer Science program back in 95 I believe. Due to financial reasons and the fact that I literally grew up with the possibility my family would become homeless the next week.  I had to enter the labor force.  I have in the past year received the ability to attend the Univerity of the People to get a degree in computer science.  For me, the degree is more a "personal goal" as it is a career goal.  Although I will be seeking employment in this field, preferably in truck automotive in some way.  The point of this story is I am driven by the desire to better myself and reach a long term goal I missed as a youngster.  

So yes I believe small personal projects on GitHub will help but the main point of looking for these projects is so I can see how you professionals complete a project.  On this note Junilu I need to center you out you have helped me a great deal in my understanding!  If you live in the Dallas area I would say I owe you a beer.

Trust me when I say I understand the hurdles I have getting into this career at my age.  I can only say my main goal is a personal one and not career driven. IF I can get a career in this industry I would be ecstatic!!  However, I understand the competition I have with younger candidates that have better schooling!  I hope this gives you some incite into my motivation.
 
Dwayne Barsotta
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One last note on the post above.  Just because my main goal at the moment is to complete a life long dream, I do intend to fight very hard to get into this trade in time!  I really don't put a high degree of "hirability" on open source contributions, as you said I do intend to build a strong personal Github page with good personal projects!  I am looking for opensource so as you, I can learn by inspecting others code.  I personally find it difficult to search Github (not very experienced yet with it) for such projects!
 
Junilu Lacar
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Dwayne, try this: https://github.com/trending/java
 
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