Despite your fantastic grades and razor-sharp wit, when it comes to looking for a job fresh out of college, you’re going to find yourself competing against a multitude of other students with similarly impressive credentials. In some cases, you’ll be competing against people who have several years of experience and all you’ve got on your resume is your senior project and an internship fetching coffee at Random BigCo.
The one thing you’re missing on your resume is experience, and most students are advised or required to complete an internship to gain this much-needed knowledge. Unfortunately, most of the experience students get in an internship is doing some of the most menial chores in their field.
If, however, you create your own “internship” by contributing to an open source community, you’ll get invaluable real-world experience, advice, and criticism from talented programmers, and you’ll be doing something you enjoy. More importantly, from a career perspective, you’ll start building a publicly visible portfolio of your work that you can show to any prospective employer.
While the typical internship may tout the “exciting opportunity to work in your prospective field,” once you get beyond the marketing hype, you’ll typically find yourself doing grunt work that no full-time employee wants to do. It’s definitely a great opportunity to start at the bottom and work your way nowhere fast in a system designed to provide an employer with cheap labor. You’re given a narrow field of responsibilities…..