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Does contributing to open-source companies increase chance of a job there?
12 points by evex on Jan 3, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 22 comments
As the title says, Does contributing to open-source companies such as:

- Gitlab

- Ghost

- Discourse

- Edx

- Google(Angular, Flutter, Tenserflow)

- Facebook(React, React Native, Jest)

Increases (Dramatically) Chances of getting a job at said companies? to a point where said companies reach out to the contributor?

I’m going to reply to this just based on (my) logic and zero experience.

The question is: does it increase my chances dramatically?

I believe the answer is: if your contributions are dramatic I believe it does increase your chances.

How dramatic it needs to be is another discussion.

If you can make significant contributions to a certain community or company, so much that they can see the difference, how can it not help you?

That's what first came to my mind as well.

I would like to hear from someone with experience just to rest my mind and go ALL IN contributing :D

Also based on my own logic and zero experience on the matter, why should they hire you when you would work so much for them for free? What would be your standing in a job negotiation?

Not to say it can't happen. For example, if you make cool features for Gitlab, they may want to reserve it for the paid version but they won't be able to (I hope) unless you were an employee, causing you to surrender your copyright for said developments to them.

Still, I think you'd be setting yourself up for disappointment, if you only do that work with the expectation that they would eventually hire you, when they have given no indication that they would even consider it. It's too much investment with little to no guarantee of returns, and most benefit of the work is gratuitously given to someone else.

It might be better to spend that free time to build a portfolio of independent projects to showcase to potential employers. Those projects would have your name on them instead of some company's, and they make it easier to judge the quality of your work by potential employers. It's easier to judge the quality of a complete project, as opposed to a few commits here and there in a project that's been worked on by many people.

> when they have given no indication that they would even consider it.

That's exactly why I'm asking this question,

> It might be better to spend that free time to build a portfolio of independent projects to showcase to potential employers.

I already have a couple(wordhunt.xyz, getquoter.app), but they do not seem enough to land me a job somehow, and I don't want to apply to 100+ companies to get someone to hire me.

I would like to choose a company that I like and believe are doing a good thing, and then apply and get accepted instead of randomly applying to any company with good pay.

It seems to me this is kind of how Linus Torvalds got his job. I could be wrong there, though.

HN comment:

"I've known many more or less unemployable people who started contributing to significant open source projects, and based on that got hired to well paid positions."


I see, thanks for your input.

I would like to know for sure if it is good investment to contribute to the companies that I like :)

Just a theory but I’d bet, for companies like Google and Facebook, grinding leetcode would be less work and more efficient if your only end goal is to work there.

It would be a bit hard for me to get an interview in the first place, I'm not a US citizen.

They have offices in many parts of the world, I believe. Also, I imagine sponsoring employment visas is probably something routine for them.

But yes, it's probably harder.

this is based on my gut feeling, as someone who is hiring and has FOSS projects we use for work.

first of all, there are multiple factors at play:

does contributing to FOSS projects increase your chances at getting any job?

does it make a difference to which projects you contribute to?

both these can be answered with yes.

having a portfolio of public contributions is helpful. (personally i think it is unfair to those who can't afford the free time to spend coding, so i try to reduce the effect, but even then the ability to look at your code will give me insights that i'd otherwise not get)

if i am looking for a webdeveloper, i probably won't care so much about your kernel contributions, other than as a general indicator of your skills. at the worst i might fear that your career interests don't align with the job i can offer.

so working on a company's codebase is likely going to help make sure that your interests are aligned with the work i want you to do. but only if the job you apply for is actually in that very area.

most of googles jobs for example are not angular, flutter or tensorflow. contributing there will probably not make a difference because you likely won't be hired to work on those.

it is more likely to matter for smaller projects/companies.

however on your last point, as mentioned by others, unless your contribution is so significant that you already know the core developers on a first name basis (like you are in the top 10% of non-core contributors) they won't reach out to you. bigger companies won't because it's not enough to stand out, and smaller companies rarely have the funds to hire people on a whim.

what contributing may help you with is to be the first to hear when new positions open up.

if you are in the inner circle of angular developers, you may find out sooner if a new position in the angular team opens up. and you may have a chance, not because you contributed, but because they already know you and because you were able to submit an application earlier. (they know you because you contributed, but if you keep a stealth appearance while contributing, so that you never interact with other developers then that probably won't help)

i have been in that group in one project, and while i didn't get an offer from the company behind the project, job offers that targeted the experience were usually posted first on the core developer list, and so i knew about them early. my actual code contributions though weren't really that significant but being on the inner circle helped (i organized conferences for the community and helped edit a book for example).

Hey, thanks for your input.

So can I conclude from what you said, that I should have my contributions profile ready for when an opportunity is open at a company I'm contributing to, I have a higher chance to get the opportunity compared to non-contributors?

no, the conclusion actually is to make friends with the core developers. contributing good code is one way to do that, but writing excellent documentation, or filling some other need in the community can also work.


No, I've contributed to the Linux kernel more than once and never received a job offer from Red Hat, SUSE or Canonical.

I don't think "more than once" can get you a job, my goal was to contribute a LOT, like full-time for 3-6 months on issues that no one wants to work on so I actually impress.

That is a lot of time to work for free. Why not get a regular job and convince your employer to let you contribute to Open Source project they use.

"regular jobs" where I live, offer very bad compensation packages. I see a lot of remote companies offering good pay along with a good environment and good benefits.

have you applied and were rejected?


just study more algorithms

Kernel development is actually one of the areas of programming where you do have to implement algorithms.

You mean, if the reason for rejection was failing algorithm questions in the interview, which might not be the case.

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