Modifying Expectations

I can hardly believe my Outreachy internship is half-way done! It has gone by so fast – and it probably feels that way because of how much there is to do and learn.

I’m glad the outline of weekly goals I’d set up during the application process has mostly been met – although my mentors and I switched around a few activities, everything has been going according to my initial plan. These are some of the deliverables I was able to turn in during these 7 weeks:

  • A spreadsheet with an adaptation of heuristic analysis applied to content platforms
  • A ux analysis of how partner platforms implement licenses
  • A shorter deck highlighting main take-aways of the previous docs
  • A wire-frame of the platform toolkit with changes to both structure and content.

Phew. But there’s still a lot more to do. For this second half, I want to go over a round of user research to test my wireframes, build and refine the UI for the wire, and finally implement. I also would like to build documentation explaining this process and instructions on how to update the toolkit.

I think the main take-away from this process is that it’s important to be ambitious when setting deadlines and goals, but also not feel restricted by it. For example, winter holidays got in the way of user testing – we couldn’t book interviews during the week I had originally planned. But that didn’t really have an impact since I just began working on other tasks – making it a few weeks sooner – and re-scheduling interviews for later. The end result in terms of deliverables will be roughly the same I had written down during the application processes. So it’s ok if plans change along the way, as long as you’re still moving in the direction you planned to go.

A look at my project

My project for this Outreachy round with CC is to revamp the Platform Toolkit, like I’ve mentioned before. But what makes this project so exciting? I’m gonna try and briefly go over what are the key points that made me want to work on this.

The Platform Toolkit is a resource for platforms that would like to give their users the option of applying CC licenses to their uploaded content. It’s a website focused on providing enough information so that the platform can implement this successfully, covering the upload process, the display (so it’s easy for the users to know what license is attached to that content), and the search (so users can find this licensed content). This material hasn’t been revised in a while, and today it’s very text-heavy. My part in this, is going over this content using my knowledge of UX and UI (and learning more about it from my mentors, CC staff, research and independent studies) so that the end result is more approachable.

What drew me in at first was the idea that I could put together all the things I love into this one project – I could revise content, think about UX patterns and go through user-testing, I could wire-frame and build an UI, and lastly, I could implement the front-end. I still have a lot to learn in all of those subjects, so it’s very cool that I get to exercise and touch base with all of these. Another reason I love this project is that I feel it could have an impact in how platforms implement CC – my goal is to have a final result that makes a difference, that makes spreading knowledge about licenses and access to materials something easier and more intuitive. Here’s to hoping that I’ll reach that goal! 🙂

Everybody struggles

This was the blog prompt established by Outreachy for this week and I really loved it. I don’t think there’s any bigger truth than that, even if it doesn’t seem like it, even if you can’t tell by the distance, it’s absolutely true: everybody struggles. That can run through every aspect of someone’s life, but I think it’s particularly important to remember when it comes to career building.

I don’t mean this as some inspirational motto for when you’re comparing yourself (which you really shouldn’t be doing anyway), but more as an everyday fact that when acknowledged can make your life THAT much simpler. Everybody struggles, so it’s OK to ask for help. Everybody struggles, so it’s fine if something hasn’t clicked just yet.

Changing careers late in life and learning a new profession from scratch has taught me so many life lessons (big, juicy ones, I promise) but perhaps the best is that when you’re humble about your knowledge – and your limitations – it feels like the weight is lifted. Accepting the struggle as part of the process makes you less afraid, and then you can go on and really do the things you want to, unafraid of the difficult parts. Outreachy is certainly a big part of my leap, and it’s proving to be absolutely worth it. 🙂

Thoughts on the application process

I had my eye on the Outreachy program for a while, but it always seemed a little intimidating – I’d never taken part in any open source initiatives and had no idea where to begin, so I did what any mature adult would: I kept lurking on their Twitter account and postponing my attempts for no good reason 😛 Just kidding, kinda.

But then I met a senior developer who became my mentor (aside from very dear friend – hiiii Ana Rute! ) and during one of our talks about growth she mentioned being an Outreachy alumni. She gave me a better understanding of the program, talked about how she learned a lot and considered this period a game-changer in her career. I was inspired and figured it was time to set my fears aside and give it my best shot.

Where to start? Well, there are a lot of important resources on the official website, and I would also recommend following their account on Twitter – lots of cool articles and posts are shared over there. But in short, here’s what I think is so brilliant about this program: the application process is already a chance to give the dynamics a “test-run”, see how you enjoy working on the projects, and interacting with the mentors. And yes, the application process is a lot of work, but regardless of the results, you already have a huge gain in terms of learning, engaging with others and meeting new people. Win-win all the way.

My idea when picking a project was to look for a balance between things I enjoy doing and things that sounded challenging. At first I wanted to contribute to two different projects from different companies, but soon enough I knew working with Creative Commons and helping them improve their platform toolkit was the project I *really* wanted to join. I sent my final application with zero expectations – honestly, I thought this was just a really fun first attempt – so I couldn’t be happier about having this opportunity. I’m very excited to be a part of this project and begin my journey as an Outreachy intern. My first week is already super busy – but I’ll share more about that soon enough 😉