Lauryn's Open Source Journey

Join me as I blog about my experience as a self-taught programmer & open source contributor :)

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6 December 2021

Beginnings: Me, Outreachy and Zulip

by Lauryn Menard

I’m very excited to be officially starting my time as an Outreachy participant contributing to Zulip.

Where I started

I’m relatively new to programming and open source.

I started my career as an arts-education administrator and worked for many great organizations like Moving in the Spirit in Alanta and ODC Dance in San Francisco.

After about 9 years in the industry, I needed a break and moved to Spain with my partner. My first few years here were spent learning the languages (Spanish, Galician, Valencian and Catalan) and exploring the possibility of teaching English. While I love language learning and how it connects people to new ways of thinking and being, I didn’t love being in front of the classroom.

One area that I always enjoyed in my work as an administrator and teacher was data and tracking. So, I thought I’d look into data analysis and see if that might be for me. My self-study soon had me learning programming languages like R and Python, which I found both challenging and very rewarding. Following my interest, I started to focus more on programming and here I am.

Who I am

Some of my core values are community, learning and authenticity.

I have always been drawn to spaces (virtual or in-person) with a strong sense of community. In my work and in my life, I want to feel connected to people who share similar interests and purpose. I don’t want to be the soloist; I want to be part of the orchestra. I’m not interested in dancing alone; I’m lifting up my dance partners and being lifted up in turn.

Also, it’s critical for me to be in environments that prioritize learning. For me, learning in community requires:

And in my opinion, for a community and learning to be successful, a base of authenticity is essential. I want to show up as myself, with all my human imperfections. And I want others to be able to do the same with me.

What I am doing

This summer, I reached a point where I needed to start getting some real world coding experience.

Early in 2021, I heard about Outreachy through some friends who work in the open source community. I thought applying might be a long shot, but worth trying. I submitted my application to the program in mid-August and then waited to hear back.

About 45 days ago, after I had found out that I had made it to the 2nd round of the application process, I started my first contribution to Zulip’s web application. After spending just a few hours in the Zulip community chat, I could tell that my values aligned with the project.

During the contribution period, I made 5 contributions to Zulip, received clear / quick feedback from Zulip folks and was encouraged to take on more challenging tasks. I’ve already learned a lot from what I’ve done so far and I’m so looking forward to being able to continue contributing to the project for the next 13 weeks through the Outreachy program.