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Chad Stewart - OSS and #TechisHiring

Season 6, Episode 5 | September 6, 2022

In this episode of the podcast, Dan and Bekah talk with Chad Stewart about getting started in open source, finding a project with a supportive community, and his project #TechIsHiring.


Chad Stewart

Software Engineer from Kingston, Jamaica. Founder of TechIsHiring.

Show Notes:

In today's episode, Bekah and Dan talk to Chad Stewart, a Software Engineer from Kingston, Jamaica, about his journey into contributing to Open Source projects like Open Sauced and how to find your way to your first contribution. He shares the inspiration behind his #TechIsHiring project, which helps to identify tech jobs and resources, but more importantly, to connect people in the wider tech community.

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Transcript:

Bekah:

Hello, and welcome to season six, episode five of the Virtual Coffee podcast. I'm Bekah. And this is a podcast that features members of the Virtual Coffee community. Virtual Coffee is an intimate group of developers at all stages of their coding journey. And they're here on this podcast, sharing their stories and what they've learned. And we are here to share it with you here with me. Today is my co-host.

Dan:

What up Beck? How is it going today?

Bekah:

Just never know, never know what, how you're going to deliver that. Um, it is, is going amazingly fantastic today.

Dan:

that is impressive. Um, That's good. Cuz uh, today we had an amazingly fantastic guest, uh, Chad Stewart.

Bekah:

Who is also awesome.

Dan:

He is also awesome. Yeah, we that's obvious because he is on our podcast. So like,

Bekah:

Yeah, it was implied.

Dan:

at this point. Yeah. Uh, but yeah, he's a Chad's software engineer from Kingston, Jamaica, and um, yeah, we had a good time talking to him and he talked a lot about his experience with open source and um, also his. I don't know what you call it. He's got a newsletter in his surf project. Yeah. Called, uh, Tech is Hiring. And, um, I, he told us a lot about, a lot about that and how, how he got into that. And you know, how it works and stuff is, is very.

Bekah:

Yeah, I love how organically it started. You know, he saw a need for something that in the wider tech industry. And then somebody mentioned to him like, Hey, what do you think about doing something more with this? And he just went with that. And I think that's a really great way to find inspiration and energy from the things that you're doing.

Dan:

Absolutely. Um, I mean, it's always good to talk to Chad. He's he's very funny. He's, he's one of our, uh, main contributors to our humor channel in, in, in our slack. Um, and yeah, it was fascinating hearing about his, uh, his experience with all that stuff. And with, uh, the Open Sauced, that was the other, that's the big project that he volunteers with contributes with. And, um, he talked a lot about how you don't have to be writing code to contribute to an open source project. And I both agree with that. very much and, and appreciate the, the way he talked about his experiences.

Bekah:

Yeah. Uh, and we start this episode of the podcast. Like we start every Virtual Coffee. We introduce ourselves with our name, where we're from, what we do and a random checking question. We hope you enjoy this episode. Our random check-in question is if you could have any animal for a pet, what would it be?

Chad:

Uh, Cheetah.

Bekah:

not yet.

Chad:

Oh,

Bekah:

And how is it not a penguin? That's what I wanna know.

Chad:

uh, I like Cheetahs. It'd be Cheetah or a Peregrine Falcon. Those are my favorite animals.

Bekah:

All right. Um, my name is Bekah. I am a technical community builder from a small town in Ohio. And if I could have any animal for a pet, I really like, um, red pandas and ring-tailed lemurs. So those are on the top of the list, but a Falcon seems like it would be pretty cool. I've already got a skinny pig. So I feel like half of my dreams have been fulfilled already.

Dan:

Um, yeah, that thing is horrifying.

Bekah:

cute. It's adorable.

Dan:

It's not, they're supposed to have fur

Bekah:

uh, it doesn't, it doesn't have fur. It's a tiny hippopotamus. So if you're not familiar with what a skinny pig is, it is a hairless Guinea pig that looks like a tiny hippo. Super cute. Google. It, it is so cute. Dan, stop it. Stop hating on my pet

Dan:

I mean, this is from a person who likes the hairless cats

Bekah:

love hairless

Dan:

they're like the most horrifying thing in the world,

Bekah:

No, they're not. They're so great. Especially when they're angry looking, they're just like great.

Dan:

that um, okay. Hi, I'm Dan. I am a developer of. Computer things. uh, I live in Cleveland, Ohio. Um, yeah. So are we sticking with real world animals?

Bekah:

if you want a mini dragon, you can have one.

Dan:

A mini dragon? I was gonna say the dragon guy from The Never Ending Story, although he is like a little

Chad:

File core. Falkor.

Dan:

yeah. Falkor, uh, I was gonna say, um, What's the word for like, when you, when a person like a, a being can like talk and think and stuff.

Bekah:

Amorphism.

Dan:

no. Like a, like a conscious or, you know, like he has, he's a little too much of a human, not a human, but like a thinking thing to be like, have a,

Bekah:

he's an anthropomorphized

Dan:

but I'm saying, like, I'm saying, like, since

Chad:

a taxpayer to me, to be honest with

Dan:

there's a word, there's a word for what I'm looking for. And I, I can't think of the word, but. What I mean is like, I would feel bad keeping him as a pet because he has like too much of his own, you know, consciousness, you know what I mean? Like he like talks and he is like his own thing. So I don't think he'd wanna be a pet. And that would make me sad. Um,

Bekah:

Well, like what about dogs that run away all the time? Did they really wanna be pet? Should they be free too?

Dan:

I mean, I don't know. uh, I mean, that's a good question. Should any pets be pets? You know? Yeah. Yeah.

Bekah:

one of those moral conundrums.

Dan:

if you truly love it, then set it free and it'll come back or something. how does that go?

Bekah:

if it comes back, it's yours and that's how you know that is lyrics in a Christine Aguilar song. I refrain from singing it for you.

Dan:

uh, oh man. All right. Um, anyway, that's my answer. I'm I'm going, if we have to stick with real world, I'd say sloth though sloths are really cool and you know, I'd, I'd like, I'd totally like just chill in the backyard with the. If it's real world real world animal. That's that's my answer.

Bekah:

I was in Costa Rica when I was like 19 or 20, and that was a highlight to get, to see the three toed and the two toed sloths.

Dan:

Oh yeah. Nice.

Bekah:

just welcome, Chad.

Dan:

yeah, go ahead, Chad.

Chad:

Yeah. So I'm Chad Stewart. I'm a software engineer, um, in, currently in Kingston, Jamaica, uh, mostly do front end engineering stuff. Um, right now though, I'm hopefully transitioning to doing more full stack stuff. And I guess I answered this earlier, but it would be either a Cheetah or Peregrine Falcon. Those are my favorite animals. They're fast. I like fast animals. I don't know. Yeah. And I like birds. um, which, uh, Bekah might have, Bekah alluded to earlier, um, with a different type of bird. Um, but

Dan:

Yeah. Did you ever read, uh, either of you ever read, um, My Side of the Mountain.

Bekah:

Yes.

Chad:

I, I

Dan:

you read that Chad? So it's a, it's like a, it's like a young adult book, I think, but it it's about a kid who runs away and goes and lives in the woods, like with, with nothing, you know, and teaches himself how to sort of forage and hunt and fish or whatever. And he eventually like goes and get like steals a Falcon baby, uh, from a nest and, and then like raises it and trains it. And it becomes his like friend and stuff. It's really cool. Um, That sounds cool. It would be, it would be really cool to have a Falcon as a pet and like, could just like, hang out with you on your shoulder. Is that, what do you think you'd do shoulder or just your arm thing? I

Chad:

Uh, depends on the Falcon. I'm, you know, considering the talent, it would probably not necessarily rest on your shoulder and rest in your shoulder. You know

Dan:

right, right.

Bekah:

Like a very leather shoulder pad or something.

Dan:

Yeah. Little contraption for, to hang out on. Feel like you'd wanna like, hang, you know, keep you, keep him with you when, uh, when he is not like, when he is not cruising around,

Bekah:

If I am ever famous and I go to an award show, I'm gonna come with a Falcon on my shoulder. Just decided it seems like

Dan:

you're keying a conference, you should do it there.

Bekah:

I don't think I have enough time to, uh, train a Falcon. I've got like three weeks.

Dan:

that's not enough time.

Bekah:

I don't know.

Dan:

Well, yeah, this episode will come out after that. Anyway. So, uh, next time you're the keynote speaker at a conference. That'll be you just put that.

Bekah:

be my thing. Kirk says my thing is crying while I give talks. And that is the thing I would like to not be doing. I would rather be the, the Falcon shoulder person. welcome. This is, this is the normal intro for us. Um, And it is a Friday that we are recording on. So, um, brains don't work on Fridays. Uh, everybody knows that. So you're gonna have to bear with us today. Um, but we will, we'll give you the mic now, so you don't have to listen to me talk anymore. We always love to hear your origin story. How did you come into tech and get to this point in your tech journey?

Chad:

Uh, yeah, so, um, I guess I give a kind of quick synopsis of, of what I did. Uh, so I moved to the United States, um, for some time, uh, To be honest, to, to go to art school because I wanted to be a, a game developer and I, but I couldn't draw very well at the time. So I ended up into another program, which effectively was web design. Um, whatever the, it was the art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, it was whatever they had kind of called web design. And I did that for some time graduated and then phoned. I didn't necessarily like web design. Or at least what it was at the time. And so I ended up going back to another school. Uh, I'm pretty sure the south IANS would kind of know the schools that I'm talking about. Well, people know art Institute, but, um, for the south IANS, uh, I went back to NSU, Nova Southeastern university, got a, a software engineering degree from there. And then did some work ended up returning home, um, and have been kind of working around ever since. Um, during the pandemic I was unemployed. And that's how I came across, you know, Bekah and Dan and Virtual Coffee, um, when they were, when they were hosting, well, they're still hosting. Um, they're still hosting zoom, um, zoom calls, but that's how I came across them. And I've mostly been kind of active on Twitter. Um, so I, I, you know, I met, I met Dan and, and Bekah during 2020, um, 20, 20, 20, 21. Um, I decided. To start an organization, uh, call Tech is Hiring, um, tech pretty much. What I do is I retweet job opportunities as I come across them on Twitter. Um, and I re re I also retweet, um, people looking for, for opportunities. And so. I've been doing that for about, for, for a little bit over a year now. And yeah, like that's pretty much it. We, we do have, we, uh, have some presence on LinkedIn, but mostly still on Twitter, have a newsletter, uh, been doing the newsletter thing. Haven't missed a week. I'm actually pretty happy about that. But, uh, have, have been doing a newsletter for. Uh, couple of months now, I think over six months now. And yeah, that's pretty much me. I'm, I'm working now, you know, thankfully and my opportunities are increasing because of the amount of work that I've been doing and people I've been reaching out to and so on and so forth. But yeah. Um, yeah, it's pretty much me right now.

Bekah:

That's awesome. And we're gonna dive into Tech is Hiring a little bit more, but before we jump into that, I know that you've been doing, you know, a lot of different community things and some of that's been open source work. Do you wanna talk about what you've been doing with open source and how you've, uh, been a contributor as well?

Chad:

Uh, yes. Uh, yes. So, um, I recently started open source doing more open source work. Um, uh, funny enough, I started with the. The, um, the open source project that I had started with, um, which is open source by, uh, Brian Douglas, um, at B Dougie on, on Twitter. Um, and he honestly, he approached me to ask me to, to, to, to, to contribute to his project. And I did. Um, but I didn't stay initially mostly because of just all other stuff that I kind of had going on. At the time. Um, but he again approached me later. Um, he again approached me later that year, uh, really late in the year, mostly because of Tech is Hiring. And then he, you know, he wants to wanted me to, to come on to, to contribute more, um, More again, and that's what I've been kind of doing, um, for the last couple of months. And you know, his, his project is pretty much about kind of having it, it being a platform of, of people, you know, transitioning into contributing for open source. Um, it's in a bit of, uh, I don't wanna call it limbo, but if the kind of scope is Evolv. At this point. Um, so, you know, we're, we're all kind of trying to figure it OT recently, uh, left GitHub to, to work on, on open source fulltime. And so. You know, as he does that, and he's putting a lot more like of his full, you know, effort into it. He's been, uh, he's been kind of expanding on that and I've really been helping, uh, here and there. So like for instance, one of the things that I did, I'm pretty kind of happy about this is that the, the, the onboarding experience for open source was. Was a little bit disjointed and, you know, he had managed to, to, to get some designs, um, and to just kind of change the onboarding experience. And that was like one of the first major things that had helped him with, um, when I started contributing more often and, you know, been doing it. For I've been working on the project ever since. Uh, it there's two projects. There's open source, the, the, the app, the, the, the regular app. And then you have hot open source, which is like a, a, a, a, a, another, not a child app, but just that app alongside of it, I haven't been working with hot open sauce, but yeah, that's pretty much what I've been doing. And, you know, you interact with the community, you know, you get to talk to you, you, you talk to people here and there, like, so it is kind of interesting because he has a, he has a discord, which I, I interact with a few times, but. To be honest, a lot of the interactions kind of come, come through his stream. Uh, I feel like a lot of people just kind of come there. And then there's also times where he'll have like a call on his discord and, you know, that's where you, you have some really interesting conversations, you know, about the project and about kind of how it's evolving, but just generally about software engineering. I think that's like in terms of, um, in terms of open source, that's the thing that I kind of want. I I really think is the most important is your kind of access to information that you wouldn't regularly have, or not even necessarily access, because if you've heard these terms, you've heard a lot of the. Technologies and stuff. You probably, you can Google them or, you know, they're, they're that open, but like the likelihood of you coming across that as somebody who's just not in the know, you know, is very difficult. And I think that's like the, the key thing that, that open source has been. Um, helping me with is just coming across these technologies and these people and, you know, just getting to know them, you know, even if it's still more of a passive LA, not passive, but as a, I don't know the person directly, or I don't know, I haven't interacted with the technology, but just having them as like in your Rolodex of things that you could leverage, you know, is extraordinarily.

Bekah:

Yeah, absolutely. I love that. And I love Brian Douglas too. He's pretty awesome. I actually, uh, he's gonna be doing a lunch and learn at Virtual Coffee, um, which is super exciting. We're gonna talk about open source and open sauce and Octoberfest. So that'll be coming up in September. I'm really glad to. Um, have him getting us in the, in the mind frame of prepping to do some open source contribution because that's I, the beginning kind of, of the Virtual Coffee, origin story, maybe. Um, it's not the first thing that we did, but, uh, it was the first time I felt like Virtual Coffee was gonna be an organization that outlasts the pandemic. Um, I thought for a long time that it was like, Hey, we're. Get together and everybody's feeling isolated. And then we did Oktoberfest, our first Octoberfest initiative, and everybody was just so excited about it and contributing. And we had maintainers and contributors and lots of mentorship and support, and it was. It was fun, but really gratifying to see people contributing and learning and growing through that experience. And, you know, it can be, it can be scary to get involved and do your first contribution. Um, even if you've been in tech, we had a number of people who have been in tech for a while, and I've never done an open source contribution. So, you know, what advice do you have for folks who are maybe a little bit nervous about entering that open source experience?

Chad:

Uh, that's a, that's a really interesting question. Um, Hmm. What advice would I give? So I would say, um, find community, you know, like that. So the, the, the. The open source projects that I would definitely look, look to, um, are open source projects that are very much not just about the, the, the contributions, but you know, like the, the, whatever you kind of deliver, whatever you merge, you know, but significantly more about the community of people. Um, and just kind of the culture around the, the, the open source project, like that's really important, you know, like there are a lot of there, you know, people give the advice of, of, you know, contribute to like you, you, their tools that you use all the time, like react and so on and so forth, you know, you want to contribute to those and. You know, some of them are hit and miss, but a lot of the times they're so big that they they're really hard to get into, you know, like I, I wanted to, I, you know, I heard the whole thing. It's like, you should, you should contribute to open source. It's great. And so I was like, okay, I'll contribute to open source. You know, which, which product I'm going to try, I'm gonna try to contribute to react. There's a bunch of good first issues there. And I was just. What you know what I mean? Like, I couldn't understand anything that they were asking, and this was like a couple of years back and I, you know, I tried it a few times and I was just like, I'm gonna go do something else. You know what I mean? So it's like really important to kind of have that community, like have, have those people being very welcoming, you know, having the discord, like a lot of. The secondary stuff to the, to the, to the actual working code and tools is, is really important. Um, the second thing, and I'm, I'm really happy. I remember this. The second thing is that you don't necessarily have to contribute code. You know, it's not just about code, there's a lot of other things that you can contribute, and that would be a contribution to open source, like contributing, uh, documentation, you know, like I know, uh, uh, Brian for, for open source, he has a triage team for, for triaging issues. I believe that's, um, like. You know, find you taking, I'm sorry if I'm, I hope I'm getting this right. But like you, you take when, when there's issues, you know, you kind of scope them out so that there's something that somebody can easily take on. And I believe he got that idea from the node, from node, which nodes, from my understanding. For the longest time, I really wanted to join the open source community for node because they seemed so welcoming. You know, they seemed to have all of this kind of infrastructure in place for a new person to come in and. Really be able to contribute, you know, like I don't remember exactly everything that they have now, but like they have, you know, they have stuff on YouTube. They have them weak, they have weekly meetings on YouTube, you know, like they have like this whole community around joining them. And so I'll try not to go into the community thing again, but like, there are a lot of things that you can do to. You know, like you can contribute documentation, like for, for, for the no project. Like, I believe you can do something like just kind of help managing the meetings that they have because they regularly have meetings, but there are a lot of outside things outside of like literally writing the code that needs to go into the project that can go, that can go in there and people have literally gotten opportu. From contributing to open source, um, open source projects in these auxiliary ways, you know? And so. I would, so the thing that I would definitely stress is community. You know, like community is extraordinarily important, you know, having people to have your back, you know, when you're contributing is really important, to be quite honest, I would say that it's much more important to, to, to build and maintain those relationships than it is to contribute the code. In my opinion. It's much more important to have those relationships. In fact, I would say that's the most important thing about open source and that it's not just about contributing code. You don't need to contribute code it. It's about, you can contribute in, in your own way, just reach out. And there might be things that, that, you know, that the, the, the maintainer needs and, you know, you may be able to help help there, but just, I guess, to kind of sum up at the very least the last part is just be very open ended on how you, how you'd like to contribute to the community. You know, like you don't necessarily have to contribute something that, you know, gets merged into a poll request. Yeah, but just be very open minded on how you'd contribute to the community, to, to that community and focus on community. You know, even if it's a small community, just focus on the relationships that you're building with with these people. It's not just about, you know, you write something and then you merge requests and then you, you know, you go off somewhere, you know, it's about building those relationships. You know, that, that's what I would say. Sorry for cutting.

Bekah:

no, no. I love that. I love focusing, especially for first time contributors on that interaction on the community building of things, because getting into open source can be really nerve-wracking or seem really hard to do, but you're right. If you find that right community, it makes it a lot easier for you and you are building those relationships. And, you know, if we look at even some of the larger. Open source projects. Sometimes, sometimes there's a need for smaller contributions or sometimes their first time contributor issues are exactly like what you were talking about. Like, I have no idea what you're talking about. This is not for me. And then that's okay. You know, there are other. Opportunities out there. And this is one of my pet peeves where people are like, this is not in the spirit of hack Tober Fest. And they wanna say like, oh, you can't make a contribution that looks like this or that just changes one thing. Um, and I, I think that. Maybe that's how you feel about your project, but that doesn't necessarily apply to other people's projects. There are a lot of projects out there that are community run that are people who are trying to collaborate and work together and support other people. So there are lots of different projects, there's different approaches to open source contribution and finding that community that's going to support you is going to help you to make that contribution.

Chad:

Absolutely. Absolutely agree. And I'd like to touch on a little bit about, you know, there are a lot of kind of community run projects. Um, I've been there. So this is kind of funny. Uh, I went through this, looking up a lot of interview prep stuff. Cause to be quite honest, I did a lot of that within the last, not within the last couple of months, but, um, years prior I was doing a lot of interview prep and there are so many kind of. You know, thing, I don't know if they're necessarily open source projects, but they're projects that, you know, have a that's, you know, open to the world. And, you know, like as far as I know, it's not the paid product, you know, I thinks, yeah. I don't think it's a paid product. Like for instance, there's, there's the algorithms, which is something that I just recently found out about, which. Literally a project of a bunch of kind of data structures and algorithms that you would see in interviews. Um, and it's like a huge kind of log of them in different languages. You know what I mean? And as far as I know, that's not a paid product, it's just out there, you know, and like I was bookmarking a bunch of these things, but there's that, there's that like, there's the, the, the, what you call it, the tech interview handbook, which kind of gives you like a real. You know, it's a great breakdown of how interviewing is how you study, you know, what you, what people are, are looking funny enough. The thing that I, that draw me to that was, you know, what, you know, there, it described like how people are, are kind of looking, looking at you at like big tech interview group. The point I'm making is all of those things. When you look at them on GitHub, they're really just like marked on. I think they are, but they're, they're not like anything crazy, you know, you're not like using Redux to, to display all of this information, you know what I mean? But those projects like that. Hundreds of contributors and you know, like you can contribute to that project. Say, say for instance, you've done a massive amount of interviewing to, to kind of stay in context, the ma a massive amount of interviewing and you feel like there's an issue here. Issue with some of the information here you could most definitely reach out or, or, or apply a change. And I mean, even then it's like, all of this is kind of talking about information, right? So, you know, say there's like typos or it's just not as clear, you can definitely just, you know, clear up that information or reach out to whoever and, and. That isn't necessarily code in the, in, in the sense that most people think of open source projects. When people think of open or contributing to open source projects, they think about adding a feature or refactoring very much like code, you know, very much. Like that very particular use case when there's, like I said, there's a whole breadth of things that you can, you can, you can do. And I mean, we're, we're even, even this conversation, we're kind of talking about the at least. The way I'm kind of thinking about it is like, if you're doing open source, you're literally on GitHub, you literally go to the project and then it's just like, however, right. But, you know, if you're, if the, the open source project has a community, you know, you may not necessarily even be on GitHub. You know, like you could be, you could be a part of their discord and you could be like moderating their discord and something like that, you know, like that's still contr, um, contributing, you know what I mean? So, I just, I guess I just wanted to, to, to, to, again, reemphasize that there's a lot of things that you can do to contribute to community. You know, like it's, again, it's not just writing. I want to say JavaScripts of that. it's not just writing JavaScript, you know what I mean? It's just not writing code. Like there's a lot of ways you can, you can contribute and. Keeping that open mind of the, the, the, you know, the, the needs of the, the, the maintainer. That's pretty much it.

Dan:

Yeah, I love that. You know, and, and Virtual Coffee for example, right. We have lots of volunteers that are, that help our community. Um, but also like our, our site is open source and. I don't know, like 80% of the files are just content, you know, they're just, uh, and it, I suppose it's code technically or something, you know, but it's like the, the valuable parts of it are the, are the words, right. Other content, you know? And, um, I, I mean, I love that advice. I think it's great and very important to keep your mind. And also it's like sometimes, especially when you get into docs and stuff like that is sometimes really hard for maintainers to keep up to date or to make, you know, Uh, like to catch all the edge cases, uh, things like that. Um, IU from Virtual Coffee is really good at this sheet. You know, how many times have you done, like some install followed the, read me, right. Done some install thing and it didn't work. And you had to like Google around and try a couple different things to get something to work. Right. And then what I do most of the time is just, okay, cool. I got working. I'll just move on. You know, but how Val, how much, like, it would be a very easy and valuable contribution to that, that project to just go back. Add like a, a poll request that just adds a little note in the read me that says, Hey, if you run into this error, try this fix, you know what I mean? Um, and, uh, I think that's the kind of thing that a lot of people maybe don't consider right away. Um, but it, I

Bekah:

Kinda like that error that I have running the Virtual Coffee site that I still haven't. done anything

Dan:

right. Well, that's a whole different yeah.

Bekah:

no, that's a Netlify CLI

Dan:

Yeah. Yeah. But, but, but it is the same thing. I mean, like it's, it's the same thing. Like, okay. Maybe that is something we need to add. Cuz other people, most people don't have the LF I CLI installed, like to start and, but you already did. And so there's something going on and maybe there's some note we need to add or some parameter to add to the install steps, you know, I don't know. I don't know what it is, but like even just bringing it up in issue, like even honestly writing an issue is contributing to an open source. Like not fixing it, not, not knowing the solution, but just like logging a problem. It can be a very valuable contribution to an open source project because, uh, most likely the maintainer doesn't know about it. You know, our maintainers don't know about it, like the, uh, or they do and they forgot or you know, anything. Uh, and I, I, I, uh, yeah, I don't know. I, I think everything you said is, is right and I, I think it's great. Um, I love that also. I just talk a little bit more. I love that idea about, um, helping, helping, um, Maintainers in areas outside of CA hub even, and how valuable that can be. Um, I think, I think that's another thing that people don't maybe always think about, but asking maintainers, if they need help outside of writing code, uh, it can be nice and it can be nice, nice to like, have somebody to reach out, reach out to you too, you know, sometimes say, Hey, do you need any help with this? Even if, uh, even if they say no, it's, it's like a nice, I don't know, nice gesture.

Bekah:

Yeah, I,

Chad:

Oh, go ahead. Go

Bekah:

sorry. I, I gave a talk on, um, I think it was called, do you need community? And it was from the perspective of, uh, if you are maybe getting into code or if you are in tech and you don't have a community. What would be the reasons and the benefits. And part of that, I talked about getting involved in organizations and sometimes people say like, Hey, do you need any help? And there's so much overwhelmed sometimes as a maintainer that it's like, yeah, but I don't even know where to start. Right. And so being more specific like, Hey, do you need any help? I'm really good at building chat bots. And I think this could be really beneficial, like giving that specific thing or, Hey, Like to post on social media. Can I write some tweets for you? And you know, you're not getting a green box for that. And I know that it can be really hard to feel like, oh, there, I haven't accomplished anything, but you've supported a community of people that, that is supporting other people. So, and I, I think the. One of the things I like too about Virtual Coffee, our members page just keeps evolving into something better and better because we have our members who have to create a pool request to get their profile on our me members page. But then last year, the issue was you can add your social links, um, and we've updated it with all of our active volunteers. So, you know, like finding ways to also. Support the people who are supporting your project in other ways is incredibly important as well.

Chad:

I agree. I agree. And, uh, I also want to kind of reiterate that, like, you know, you, you, for, for the people who are actually contributing code, they, a lot of those people do that to improve their skills, right. To come across problems that they generally wouldn't come across or be more difficult for them to come across. On their own. Right. But I think the most important part of open source as a contributor is to, is that interaction, the interaction with people, you know what I mean? And so definitely being, having something where it's like, okay, you reach out to the maintainers. It's like, Hey, I can do this. You know, like you were saying, you know, I can, I can do tweets and so on and so forth. That interaction is so valuable. And the con that consistency of interaction is so valuable. Like, you'd be surprised you'd be, you'd be maintaining a project and there's just somebody who, you know, you, you know them, you know, them casually and then they turn out to be well, 50% of the time they turn on to be, you know, your, your next employer, because they're now op offering you an opportunity. Uh, I was watching a video recently, you know, I'm just going to be, I was watching a video from recently where I don't remember who he was, who Brian was talking to, but he was talking about, um, how we had an open source project and like, it became more and more of. Overall. I don't remember exactly the, the, the circumstances, but he, and he started hiring a lot of people because he had somebody who was, he had started hiring. Not a lot of people. He started hiring from his contributors because his contributors were very consistent. They were excellent, you know, in what the, in their contributions. And he just, he was just like, Hey, you want to, you want a full time job? And they were like, yeah, sure. And that's how they found their next opportu. You know, and so. It's really about those relationships, you know, as a contributor, as a, as a maintainer, you know, like that's a, I don't want to talk about that too much cause that's just not, I don't have the experience there, but as a contributor, it's about building those relationships and like it's just a different avenue. Of, of building those relationships with people and then, you know, showing that, you know, like, I guess going back to, to coding, showing that, you know, you can code, that's like one of the big issues, the big problems with, with junior developers trying to get positions is that effectively they have to prove that they, they know how to code and they can just be like, Hey, look at my contribution to this open source project that got, you know, that got merged and is being used in the project right now and has my name. You know, I can code, you know what I mean? Like, so like, it's just, yeah, it's just, it's about building those relationships. Those relationships will, will definitely take you far. At least in my, in my opinion, that's like one of the biggest things for, for.

Dan:

And not just proving you can code, but proving that you have drive and can operate on your own and things like that as well. Um, and you're interested in it and, you know, I think, I think that, uh, sort of. I don't know, a full, you know, I don't wanna say like, all the green squares are green, but like, you know, you know, a full like GitHub profile where you have a lot of contributions to some things, um, can go a really long way, uh, to showing that, you know, even if you're not like, right, like you said, like rewriting the react code base, you know, like it doesn't have to be like that, obviously, especially when you're starting out. Um, but just like connecting with people and, and. Contributing in. I don't know. I, I, yeah, I agree. It's can be a very valuable tool. Um, open source contribu.

Bekah:

I know a woman who really wanted to work with, um, a pretty notable tech organization, but their interview process was notoriously hard and she knew she would not be able to pass the interview process. And, you know, didn't have time to devote hours and months of her life to studying for. And so she started contributing to their open source project and sure enough, she got hired without having to go through that interview process because she was familiar with the code base. They knew that her work was good and that she could, could be a part of the team because of that community collaboration that she already had. So, I mean, not, everybody's gonna let you, uh, navigate around the interview process, but it was really, really great strategy for. You know, not only learning more yourself, but like you're saying, finding new avenues to job opportunities.

Chad:

Agreed. Agreed. I actually was, I don't necessarily have a direct story, but I've definitely heard of other people. Who've had similar experiences who they, they contributed to, to large open source projects for pretty well known companies and, you know, no interview processes like. We see that you're we see that you can code, we, you know, we want you to work on this thing, you know, so they just brought them on board, you know, it wasn't that it wasn't a big, crazy thing, you know, they didn't have to study for, for, for months, like you said, you know? Definitely like, and from my understanding, that is, that is not uncommon, you know, like it's not an uncommon circum. At all, you know, so definitely I definitely, again, you know, it's about those relationships. It's about, you know, it's about building those relationships with, with, with those, with those people, you know, and even with other contributors as well, you know, like how, how many people have, have kind of come, come to Virtual Coffee and have become friends with each other. because of kind of their, their, their meeting at Virtual Coffee or doing work with Virtual Coffee. You know what I mean? So it's definitely about building those relationships again, in my opinion.

Bekah:

Well, and I think too, one of the great things about contributing to open source is also learning how to take feedback because oftentimes, you know, you've got a PR and it's not going to be perfect. So you'll be getting some feedback. Do you have any experience with that? And, you know, like, has that helped you develop. As a developer

Chad:

Uh, it has definitely not helped me develop as a developer because that'd be no, I'm just uh, yeah, I've gotten, I've definitely gotten feedback. Um, Like one of the kind of key things about just being coachable, you know? And again, like, because it's a learning experience, you know, like, I don't wanna say, well, because it's a learning experience. You should really be happy for feedback. You know? Like you don't want somebody to be giving you feedback where they're like, ha ha you know, and they're just kind of yelling down. Like nobody wants that. You know what I mean? But if it's like, Hey, I would structure it this way. That's like the key thing about, you know, contributions, right? Like about open source, right? Like, I don't wanna say it's judgment free again, you know, it depends on who's giving you the feedback, but it's, it's, it's somewhat non-committal in that sense, in a sense, you know, like you don't have to give you contribution. You absolutely don't have to, it's not life or death. You know what I mean? So a lot of the times. Like, you can give your, you can give a contribution and they give you feedback. And that feedback is just gold. You know what I mean? It's just like, there's stuff that they talk about that they, that you didn't know, or even necessarily they give you feedback and you push back on the feedback and say, Hey, this is my, this is the reason why, like all of that, that interaction. Is extremely important. That's what you're gonna be doing on the job. You know, like code review is going to happen. like, well, I don't wanna say it's going to happen. There are some companies that anyways, but like the likelihood of that is so high, like. That is just an interaction that you have to go through, you know, and not only that, like the amount of information that you can get from somebody saying, you know, I don't think this is the best way of doing it. I think this is a better way is this is like, especially when. It's it can potentially be difficult or just hard to, to, to, to get information and to be able to leverage it immediately. Like, you know, you can go to a tutorial and you can learn a bunch of things, but a lot of the times, if it doesn't apply to whatever you're doing right now, you know, it doesn't stick unless you keep doing it over and over. But like getting that feedback. You know, on something that you're working on and then leveraging it and then, you know, like saying, okay, I've applied it or I don't, I don't necessarily agree with your feedback. Like that is such an important thing. Even if you don't agree with it, it might be something, whereas, you know, might be another tool in your toolbox. You know what I mean? So, It's it's kind, it's still kind of sticky because again, you know, some people are a little bit more harsh with their feedback or it's not even necessarily harsh, but their feedback doesn't kind of mesh with how your culturally kind of built to accept feedback, you know, but like for the most part, All of that stuff can potentially be gold to you, especially as a, as a new person, still learning, you know, if like them telling you, Hey, I don't think this is necessarily the best way, you know? All of that is great stuff. You know, that stuff that you can, you can put, you can put away and then like potentially work on later. Like even if say your contribution doesn't get accepted for whatever reason, you know, like that information for you is really, really good when you're learning, you know? And it really just kind like, I would say in terms of navigating code code, uh, I don't wanna say well getting feedback. It really just kinda understanding. The person and how they're giving feedback. And if they're giving like feedback that is not particularly great or is demeaning, you know, let's get up and walk away again, you're not committed, you know, like if they're going to be that person, you know, that's not somebody you want to be associated with. In any form of kind of long term anything, you know, but generally like, you know, people are very friendly. Like people want you to come back. Like some people desperately want you to come back. You know, it's like, you know, I'm working on this by myself or I'm working on this with a small group of people, you know, more people who are working with me, you know, the better, you know what I mean? So it's in their it's, they're incentivized to. To, to kind of keep you coming back, you know what I mean? That's and there's also like, this is a part of, kind of the community aspect of, of open source or a particular open source project, like how to kind of contribute and like having a, having a system kind of around contribution in the sense of, you know, code style, you know, Tools that you, you, you are using and stuff like that, being very structured in that way, it really kind of lets people know how to, how to approach the project. You know what I mean? So that's also a good thing to kind of look for. It doesn't necessarily, it doesn't necessarily address feedback directly, you know, but it kind of addressed what, what your expectations of the feedback will, will, will be, you know, but yeah. I

Dan:

So as a, as a contributor, like a potential contributor to a project, what, what are your steps? Like, what do you do before, uh, before you like file a poll request? Like, what do you like, I assume you maybe read the readme. What, what, what other kinda steps do you take? Like to make sure that you're. Doing what the maintainers want you to do, uh, you know,

Chad:

To be fair. So I've mostly been working with open source and they've had, they have a very good, you know, kind contributors doc, you know? And so they kind of put the systems in place so that you don't necessarily, so that you don't mess up, you know, in a sense, right. So there's like a lot of kind of guardrails and handholding that the, that the system will do, you know, but like, Again, you know, you can say for instance, there isn't really any Contra, uh, any. Docs on contributing generally. That's the first place you start, you know, docs on contribute just the, the, the kind docs on the infrastructure, right? Like on how you contribute. Just start there, you know, before, before anything else, because, uh, a good, well maintained open source project will at least have docs docs to, to tell you. How to contribute if they don't necessarily have docs, you may, you know, may reach out to the maintainer and ask questions. You may file an issue, ask questions by the way, if they don't have docs on contributing, that's a really good contribution. you know, like, but. It's just really just getting clarification, how however you can, like, that doesn't necessarily mean you don't, you can't just work on the, on the poll request immediately, but you know, like just getting clarification on how they kind of want the, the poll request set up, like, and like I said, get that clarification. However you can either they have dots written or. Reach out to people directly, you know, you may even kind of go back to, to, to previous pull requests and, and take a look at that. But I would definitely say if they don't have docs, just reach out to the maintainer and, and start there. Um, I don't have the most amount of experience here because. You know, like my open source, the project that I work with, mostly have a lot of these kind of things in place, but, you know, just getting that clarification, like that's, that's the best way I would submit them. Just get that clarification first, because it would kind, it would kind of suck where you do all of this work. It may even take you like a couple of days, you do all of this work and then you make a poll request and then they, they, they, they deny the poll request for something simple that you could have easily sorted out day one, you know? And, you know, nobody wants their full request, rejected, you know what I mean? So it's like, it it's just like at the bar least you can just do those things if you don't, if you're not necessarily a hundred percent clear, you know,

Bekah:

I love that. And I mean, so you've said you contribute to opensource and they've got a great process. So if you wanna get started and you wanna know what a good project looks like, so you can identify other ones, then go to opensource and look at what they have there, because. That's a good way to start. And I know, you know, we've got a pretty thorough, uh, contributing guidelines doc on our Virtual Coffee site as well. And you know, sometimes there's discussions, not everybody has discussions enabled, but I really like discussions for being able to have community members ask questions about things and to learn more. And then also discussions allows us to see, okay, yeah, maybe we're missing something here or we could add this now here's an issue. Hey, since you brought it up, do you want to be the one to make the pool request, um, for that project? So it is, it is step one is, well, maybe it's not step one, but a good step is identifying what good projects look like. So you can see them other places

Chad:

definitely agree.

Bekah:

I kind of wanna pivot a little bit before we end the podcast episode and talk more about Tech is Hiring because you know, all the things that we've talked about along with open source, I think contribute to this idea of Tech is Hiring the idea of community, of connection, of navigating through a problem that you identified. So what kind of started your inspiration for Tech is Hiring.

Chad:

Well, it started really with my own job search. Um, I, I don't even know how I came across this, but I realized that, you know, you could just make a tweet and say, Hey, I'm looking for a role. And people retweeted, like people are very, at the very least in, in the tech industry, uh, or on tech, Twitter, people are very open about you. Helping people find new roles. And so, you know, I was doing that a few times, like in my own job search. And then I think one day I was retweeting and I was just realized, you know, if you don't have a good network and yeah, if you don't have a good network, you know, L likelihood of you, you, um, The likelihood of your tweet going viral in a sense, it, that would help you is, is, is pretty low. And so, you know, my first thought was like, Hey, do we have like a hashtag or something that we can, you know, that we can, um, like post our tweet to. So at the very least, you know, it's in one centralized place and people are like, no, and I was just. Okay. And somebody had reached out and they were little like, oh, so you're gonna make a hashtag. Right. And I was like, I guess I am now. So ended up like taking a yeah. Ended up taking like a couple of days, just kind of trying to come up with a name. And then, you know, I just made a quick post and I was just like, Hey, this hashtag, you know, post to it. If you, if you wanted to, if you want to, to, to, to share your tweet and. Like I pretty much did that. And initially when I, when I made the first tweet, I didn't, I obviously didn't expect anybody to like be jumping, you know, out to the woodwork to kind of tweet to it. So I just went out my way to go find tweets. You know, so for people to share, to just kind of encourage and to build that kind of backlog right. Of places of, of, of resources and, you know, it just kind of grew from there. So like, uh, I started adding tweets every day, you know, every weekday I should say, I started adding tweets every day, you know, just took, took a couple of minutes onto my day. In fact, I'm probably gonna do that right after I get off of this, but, uh, took a couple of minutes. Went through all, you know, went and looked for, for people looking for jobs or had jobs to share. And I would just ask them if I could add it to Tech is Hiring and I've just been doing that. And, you know, at the end of last year, I started doing spaces around, around Tech is Hiring. When, when spaces, you know, became a feature that was open to the public, I started doing that. Um, and. There's a, there's definitely a lot of people who just kind of like, there's a lot of, kind of, I don't wanna say there's a lot of information that people tend to lack, you know, like even, especially there's a lot of job changes, right? So they may have existed in an industry for periods of time, maybe years, decades. Right. And they're transitioning into the tech industry and like a simple thing as how to structure your resume. Is is something that they may not necessarily know. You know what I mean? And it's actually fairly difficult. It's not as difficult now because there's significantly more resources, but it's fairly different, difficult to find out how to structure your resume in a good way. And so, you know, I was just like, you know, that's also resources that people could have, you know, People have, you know, hiring or just kind of job search or just those kind of conversations on, on spaces. And I'll share that, you know, when, whenever I can, it's like, Hey mind if I add this to tech to hiring, you know, and I guess it just kind of evolved from there. I eventually started a newsletter to kind of do the same thing, whereas like I have I'll effectively curate the tweets that I see. And then I'll. Take five of the five people. Who were looking for jobs and then 10 jobs during that week, and then any additional, like additional information, like, say for instance, there was like a really good thread about, you know, again, let's keep it in context. Um, talking about resume. You know, like I'll, I'll, I'll share that anything that's a part of the hashtag I won't like go searching for stuff, but anything that's a part of the hashtag, you know, that got retweeted by with the hashtag I'll, I'll add that to the newsletter and so on and so forth. And, you know, it's really just kind of been about. Just trying to be like, uh, make it, make that, make the whole thing about either job searching or transitioning, just job related stuff, make it easier, you know, especially, um, so like the, the, the thing about Twitter is like, When you go on LinkedIn or when you apply for a job in any, in any, in any, I guess, standard way, right? You, you upload your, your, your resume and so on and so forth. It's very likely that you won't necessarily get seen by a human for whatever reason. I'm not even gonna get into that. But for whatever reason, you may not necessarily get seen by a human, you know, or I don't wanna say that. Uh, for whatever reason, you won't interact with a human, I should. You know, you may get some automated email saying you were rejected or you may not even get to reply at all. Right. But you know, for Tech is Hiring because most of the times I'm retweeting tweets that somebody else made, you know, a lot of the times that person, and a lot of the times it's a person. This is a legitimate person. That person is no kind of your, your interaction, your point of contact. For that company. So say for instance, let's, let's go with AWS. A lot of people actually, when they, when they're, when they're sharing jobs, they'll say, Hey, you know, like it's in particular cases, they'll say I'll, I'll definitely not, what's not sponsors the what's the phrase. When they, they recommend you, they they'll recommend you, you know? And so you have that, excuse me, you have that, um, point of contact with the organization, you know, and like, for, for, for getting hired, like having somebody recommend you, you know, especially. A big person recommending you is a huge deal. You know, and for like, especially for, for younger engineers, they don't necessarily have that network to have somebody recommend them for a job. You know what I mean? And so, you know, when somebody posts that, you know, their job is looking for a opposition and somebody sees that they can go and just reach out to them, they can send them a DM or they can send them a reply. And. That, that interaction is significantly better. That even if you're qual, I mean, to be fair, if you're qualified for the job, you're qualified for the job, but just having that kind of point of contact, you know, maybe it's not the job for you, but you don't know that, you know, you're not gonna know that until you interview, so you can sit down and talk with them. You know, like just having that point of contact is so important. You know, so like that's kind of, the real value of Tech is Hiring currently is, is not even necessarily the resources that get shared is the resources and the people who actually share them and your ability to interact with them. You know, that's really the, the, the main thing about Tech is Hiring.

Bekah:

That's so great. Thanks for sharing that with us, Chad. Uh, and thanks so much for being here with us today. So if you're listening, please go ahead and follow Chad on Twitter and follow Tech is Hiring and make sure to subscribe to his newsletter. We'll have links to all of those things in our show note. We will see you next time.

Dan:

Thank you, Chad. Thank

Chad:

you, have

Dan:

a

Chad:

good

Dan:

one. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Virtual Coffee Podcast. This episode was produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel. If you have questions or comments you can hit us up on Twitter at VirtualCoffeeIO, or email us at podcast@virtualcoffee.io. You can find the show notes, sign up for the newsletter, check out any of our other resources on our website VirtualCoffee.io. If you're interested in sponsoring virtual coffee you can find out more information on our website at VirtualCoffee.io/sponsorship. Please subscribe to our podcast and be sure to leave us a review. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week!


The Virtual Coffee Podcast is produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Dan Ott.