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Brian Douglas for OpenSauced

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Highlight Your Open Source Contributions

Having a portfolio of work to lean on is critical in this job market. The challenge folks face is highlighting their work on projects showcasing their ability to work successfully within organizations.

I share practical ways to showcase your skills and open-source contributions in this post.

Make open-source contributions

Open-source projects provide a public way to showcase your technical skills and expertise. Some guides and articles provide a path to contributing already. If you need an introduction to contributing, please check out this post from Bekah below:

Years ago, I worked at a boot camp, crafted an apprenticeship for finding open-source projects to work on, and even mentored students to contribute to projects for the first time. I learned from that experience that finding good first issues and projects to work on takes most of the energy when contributing.

I suggest following a different path entirely. Find someone who has contributed to open source and talk to them directly. In fields requiring technical skill, an apprenticeship is the best setup for learning a trade. If you want to contribute to TypeScript projects, find someone who contributes to TypeScript projects and ask them questions.

OpenSauced provides a chrome extension to discover GitHub users making contributions, and we are working on features to make those connections more accessible in the future. For now, reach out to folks for a quick DM or Zoom call, but I caution you to be intentional. I cannot overstate this enough; human interaction can take so much further beyond endless repo spelunking.

Chrome extension

If you've already contributed to an open-source project, congrats. You are the perfect person for a new contributor to chat with. Please do us a favor and comment in the reply with your contribution. Please share your story so that we can highlight it with you.

Summarize your contribution with a pull request description.

Your opportunity to shine is highlighting the knowledge you learned while solving a problem. I have seen a lot of first-time contributions, and I have also done a lot of technical screens for engineering candidates. My ask is always, “Please tell me about your approach.” The explanation is not for me but for you. We can confirm that code works thanks to AI and automated testing libraries, but I can’t ensure you know why and how the code works unless you explain it in the description.

Most contributions happen in a vacuum, and after all that effort and work, you may never mention or reference it again—what a loss!

Green squares eventually fade, and the contribution calendar looks hella empty on January 1st every year. Instead of forgetting your good prune git history, please share it. There is a way to highlight that contribution that makes you more discoverable and quickly recalled when presenting your accomplishments in a job interview or reciting commits during a conference talk.

If you do not know what to put in your PR description, consider checking out Sunday's post:

There is a belief that the code is the best description, and there is no real need for a pr description. As developers, we sometimes must remember to celebrate wins and share stories about code merging. From my experience, the best developers I have worked with are the ones that educate me about the code they write. I get better, and the team gets better because of it.

Share your highlights with the world.

After the contribution is merged, consider writing a DEV post about the experience. In the OpenSauced platform, we offer a feature called highlights, which you can consider the step before you DEV post.

Brandon's highlight

I also mentioned reaching out to folks who have contributed already. The Highlights feed is that list for you. You filter based on a project today, but we hope to have an updated experience for sourcing top contributors soon.

Highlights feed

(the updated experience)

At OpenSauced, we are looking to break the barrier for contributors in open source with our newest feature, Open Sauced Highlights, ushering in a new phase of Social Coding.

Where an average contributor may contribute to one project during their career, we see an opportunity to highlight those contributions and share your experience with others. We would love to see your highlights, whether you are starting in open-source or the core maintainer of analog.

Start by linking them below.

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