At first, I was very intimidated. The last thing I wanted to happen was to make a mistake on someone else's work. Like many of us, I occasionally give into imposter syndrome and feel like my work isn't valuable. Thankfully, DEV has been an incredibly resourceful community in helping first-timers find projects they can feel comfortable with. Some projects are as simple as adding your name to a contributors list. Whether you're a seasoned vet or a complete novice, there's plenty of support here. I encourage everyone to participate!
I wasn't sure what sort of project I wanted to work on, but I did know that my time commitment in my personal life meant that my attention couldn't become bogged down in complex projects. I needed something short, yet rewarding. I noticed that a lot of projects had newbies writing algorithms such as selection sort, bubble sort, and many others. What luck! I need to occasionally review these for potential interviews and because, frankly, I'm terrible at them. I was able to finish in about two days without many issues.
This goes back to my first point about feeling intimidated. This is completely normal, but don't let it get in the way of trying something new. Remember, every great software engineer started fresh at some point. Get out there and fail until you succeed.