October marks DigitalOcean’s hacktoberfest, an event which I’ve had some participation in for the past two years. This event exists to encourage contributions to open source on GitHub.

Last year, my total commits through the month of October earned me a commemorative t-shirt, which I felt a bit guilty about receiving given that almost all of my commits were to personal projects in some form (though, that code was and still is open source). This year, DigitalOcean chose to use number of pull requests instead of commits, ensuring that I couldn’t feel guilty about not contributing to other projects again.

Unfortunately, I only made one real pull request this month, though my commit number wasn’t much better. I’m a little upset about this, since I have lots of projects to work on and I was really hoping to contribute a few more meaningful pull requests. That being said, it’s not that I wasn’t trying, but school got in the way once again.

I’m in my final year, so admittedly I expected not being able to contribute to things like open source and personal projects while being tied up with both course work and searching for a job. That being said, I know that contributing to open source has had a positive impact on my development as a software engineer. In my software engineering course, the final project involved finding an open source project and making some non-trivial contribution. My team decided to contribute to something related to the Yeoman project, particularly some of the first-party generators. I had very little JavaScript experience prior to working on that project, and being tasked with contributing to a very popular and structured project using it forced me to learn both how to use the language itself, but also about best practices (in a Node.JS environment at that). This was a really great experience, and definitely a highlight of my undergraduate coursework.

So in all that, one of my post-graduation goals is to ensure that I find time to contribute to open source, and do so outside of my comfort zone. I love a challenge, and I love to learn, and those combined mean that open source contributions are going to be a great outlet for learning and finding new strengths going forward.