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How I got selected as an Outreachy intern with Public Lab

This summer, I've been selected as an Outreachy intern to work with Public Lab. This article is to share my experience of getting selected to the program as well as some tips for future applicants.

What is Outreachy? How to apply?
Outreachy is a 3 month long Open Source program for people traditionally underrepresented in the technology industry.

The application process consists of two steps:
Initial application – applicants are asked to provide some basic details, confirm their time commitment, and answer 4 essay questions. Results of this are announced after a few weeks and the selected applicants move into the contribution period.
Contribution period & Final application – during this period, applicants select an organization and project and make contributions to it. Applicants are also required to make a project proposal containing the project implementation details and a project execution timeline for the 3 months.

Interns selected for the program work on their project for 3 months under the guidance of mentors and are paid a stipend of $6000.

More details can be found at

My journey with Open Source and Public Lab
My first exposure to Open Source was through Hacktoberfest. It helped me understand the basics of version control and how Open Source projects worked in general.

Subsequently, I was selected as a fellow in the MLH Open Source program where I worked on the codebase of Through this fellowship, I learned Ruby on Rails, how to read and understand large codebases, how to do test-driven development, and most importantly, how to pair-program to fix bugs!

In January, I started looking at organizations that had participated in the previous rounds of Outreachy. Since I was familiar with RoR, I wanted to go with an organization having that as its primary tech stack. Public Lab seemed to have some interesting projects so I decided to go with that(one of the best decisions!). The community was extremely welcoming and helped newcomers get started with their first issues and PRs. Contributing to Public Lab was an enjoyable process since the project was really interesting and the mentors readily helped whenever I was stuck. Soon, I had 15+ merged PRs and 20+ issues created.

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Once my initial application was selected, I started focussing on my proposal. After making several drafts and implementing the suggestions of mentors, I could finally come up with a good proposal.

On May 17th, I was selected as an Outreachy intern! 🎉
Some tips to get selected for Outreachy

  1. Select your project carefully – different people choose the project they’re applying to based on different criteria. Some people prefer projects having a familiar tech stack whereas others give priority to the organization rather than the tech stack.
    I selected the project ‘Tag and Topic System Enhancement’ since I was contributing to Public Lab for the past 3 months and had some familiarity with the tech stack (Ruby on Rails).
    Find out what suits you best and select a project accordingly.

  2. Start early – this helps you get a headstart over other applicants! I started contributing to Public Lab in January, two months before the official contribution period started. This gave me time to understand the codebase and make a lot of contributions.

  3. Make a strong proposal – this is as important as your contributions. It is important to understand your project tasks thoroughly and come up with a timeline for them.

That’s it for now!
Hope this article helps you when you’re applying. Good Luck!

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