Open Source Comes to Campus/Curriculum/Career Panel

From OpenHatch wiki

The purpose of the career panel is to help students learn more about what being an open source contributor is like. It also helps them get to know their mentors, which may make them more likely to ask for help and to stay involved after the event.

There are a few different variations on the career panel.


Classic Career Panel

The panelists come to the front of the room, as does a moderator (usually another member of the staff).

We start off by asking each person to introduce themselves, their current occupation, and their current employer and to talk very briefly about how that work relates to open source. Then, the floor is opened up to questions. Attendees can sometimes be shy about asking questions, so it may be useful to have some potential questions at the ready.

Pros: Allows for more of a discussion or debate, if you have the right set of panelists. Cons: Students can be shy about asking their questions in front of the whole group. Easy for them to disengage.

Career 'Musical Chairs'

Students form small groups (equal to the number of panelists) and panelists rotate between them, usually for 5-10 minutes each. Interaction is hopefully more of a conversation and less of a Q-and-A.

Pros: Allows for more intimate discussions. Students may be less shy, and get to know individual panelists better. Cons: More work for individual panelists, who may not have the social skill to handle a small group of shy/disengaged attendees. Not plausible if you have only a small number of panelists.

Remote Career Panel

Similar to the classic career panel, but with panelists joining remotely.

Pros: Able to welcome a wider range of panelists, including people who have done an OSCTC career panel and are comfortable with it. Cons: Less opportunity for students to bond with local mentors. Potential for technical issues. We highly recommend you test out your system (frequently a simple google hangout) ahead of time!

Questions in a Hat

We did this once when two of our local panelists stepped out unexpectedly, leaving us with two people for the panel. Everyone in the room was asked to write a question, which the two remaining panelists responded to.

Pros: When done well, there are a surprising variety of questions, and more humor than the career panel usually has. Cons: Not actually much of a conversation. (Perhaps, in addition, mentors could write out questions for students to answer?)

Potential Questions

  • How did you get started in open source?
  • What opportunities are out there for college students? And do you have any other advice specific to college students?
    • It's important that some or all of the opportunities on this page get mentioned.
  • Do you have advice on what to do when approaching a project for the first time?
  • What obstacles have you faced in open source? How have you addressed them?
  • What business models are there for open source?
  • What are some non-programming contributions you've made?
  • What's your favorite open source project?
  • Who's the coolest person you've met doing open source stuff?

Other Notes

We aim for panelists representing a diversity of open-source jobs. For example, past panelists have included people who work for Red Hat BoCoup Loft the Sunlight Foundation and the Personal Genome Project, as well as freelancers.

We try to do the career panel immediately before lunch, so that students can follow up with mentors whose answers they found interesting.

Certain things really ought to get mentioned, including:

  • Google Summer of Code (mention OpenHatch does GSoC)
  • GNOME Outreach Project for Women
  • any local opportunities you know about