About my Outreachy internship with Mixxx DJ: Intro
In October, Mixxx announced that it had been accepted into the Outreachy program. This program provides a three-month internship to work in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and I was selected as the first contributor! I will work mainly on improving the Mixxx manual while making video tutorials teaching users how to use Mixxx. While I do so, I will document my journey and work in a series of posts here on the website.
A little bit about me.
My name is Deborah Aanyu, from Uganda. I am 23 years old. I come from a family of five children – I am the eldest. I have been in Catholic (single sex) school for most of my education, and it was during this time that I got to appreciate the beauty of God in the world, and in my life. I was in mixed school for only two years, up until University. As an adventurous person, I like to try out a lot of things; from art and painting, to singing, writing, sports (basketball), web development, among other things.
I am generally optimistic and believe the good in people. I like to read and write. I like to dream, talk, listen and see the sunrise in the morning. I like to see the moonlight at night and feel the rain on my face. I like flowers. I like delicious food and comfortable shoes. I like warm clothes and a nice cup of tea. I also love babies, nature and laughter. I love food and listening to music.
I have been studying a Computer Engineering degree at Makerere University, Kampala for the last four years, and I finished my final examinations just recently. So I’ve been really excited about getting done with school and having the time to focus on what I really want to do which is software development and contributing to Open source!!
I will be working on improving Mixxx's user manual for the Outreachy Internship. Mixxx DJ is an Open Source application for DJs that gives them the power to mix songs for free. Each day that I wake up, I am so grateful for the opportunities that I am given, and looking at how I got here, I can’t help but feel enthusiastic for the journey ahead! I’m here for all of it.
My top three core values
As a young teen, I was very shy – bordering on fearful. I feared everybody including my own parents. I feared to do the wrong thing because I wanted to be in everybody’s good books. I needed the approval of my friends, family and everybody who cared about me. Because of this, I was telling lies all the time. I was turning into a diabolical liar.
I didn’t even lie because I had anything to hide. I lied so that I could tell only the best version of events. I lied to avoid attracting too much attention to myself. I lied to make people happy. I lied because I was fearful of the consequences, even if my actions were not wrong.
Eventually, I got caught. I saw how my lies were affecting the people around me and my father asked, “why do you lie so much?” and I had no real reason, except for my low self esteem. So it wouldn’t be enough to just stop lying (if it was that easy), but I had to work on my self-image, how I felt about about myself in relation to the people around me. One of the hardest things I had to practice at the time, was telling the hard truth, however terrible I thought it was. I discovered that people would rather be told the harsh, disappointing, heart-wrenching (lol) truth, than be deceived with words you think they would rather hear. I found that I would rather deal with the immediate, but brief disappointment that comes with telling the truth, as opposed to the hurtful or pained expressions on their faces when they found out about the lie. I practiced this everyday, even though some days were harder than others, but it got easy. Eventually, the truth became the easier, most obvious option. I didn’t have to think twice about it anymore and concoct stories. A huge burden is lifted off my shoulders every time I tell the truth in a difficult situation, because I know it would probably be easier to lie. I did not lie, and the world didn’t cave in.
It is because of this phase in my life that I appreciate honesty so much more. I appreciate it more because I know sometimes the truth can be very difficult, and it is not always easy to say. I appreciate honesty because it comes with no burden, and it leaves you free from guilt – of hurting others or causing even more damage. I value honesty because I have seen first hand how badly it can affect relationships with loved ones, how it can end a marriage and a life long friendship. Honesty is a core value for me because it has saved me from a lot of things and I can only imagine how my life would have been if I had been transparent from the start.
Respect has been a core value in my family for ages. Sometimes it is easy to take what we have for granted and forget that there are people who do not have half as much. We make friends, and build relationships with people from different backgrounds with different stories. Along the way, we get to peek into other people’s worlds and see how things are done there. It can be easy to judge other people for the way they do certain things just because they do them differently than what you’re used to. And often times, this judgement can reflect in our actions and facial expressions, which might not be very respectful.
I believe that part of respecting other people in society is believing that we were all created differently and there is no singular way to get anything done. I also believe that however learned we might be, there is always a thing or two we can learn from the people that we meet everyday. When we respect people, then we might be humble enough to learn from their experiences and add to ourselves one way or another. We all have different personalities, beliefs and values. We don’t always have to understand other people’s routines, cultures, beliefs and likes, but we can learn to accept that they are different than what our brains have accepted as the norm and that is okay. We are all human, we bleed the same, and we shall cease to exist some day. We all have that in common.
I truly believe everybody deserves to make the most of their time on earth! We only get one life, so don’t waste it. Try new things, go to new places and meet new people! Adventure can be applied to every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to the music we listen to it. You don’t need much to try something new – just an open mind! However, I respect that some people might prefer to have a routine and live by it every single day. When we are willing to get out of our comfort zone and try something new, we learn a little bit more about ourselves. If you try chocolate ice cream for the first time and you don’t like it, then at least you know for sure that you don’t like it! You’ve learned something new about yourself!
With an adventurous mindset, we become open to learning new things. We are more willing to gain new information and accept that there could be better out there in the world. We open our minds to new knowledge and become more willing to adjust to new changes and environments. Adaptability becomes ingrained in us.
My motivation for applying to Outreachy
So my friend Jordan Rob, and I, are self-taught developers. Everything we know, we got off Stack Overflow or YouTube (lol). We have shared a number difficulties in trying to be better developers with each passing day. With this in common, we promised to always lift each other up and encourage each other to take up new opportunities. We promised that we would not get comfortable and we would always strive to get better at what we do.
So on a random day in August, Jordan tagged me in this tweet and said “let’s apply”. And I replied “kawa” meaning ‘okay okay’.
I replied rather casually after finding out how competitive the application process was. I think Jordan and I thought the same thing. “Do we even stand a chance?”
What Jordan and I have in common is that we are both passionate about software development and if we come across any opportunities for growth in the tech sector, we will always look into them. Jordan and I have had similar struggles both personally and professionally, and hence we kind of look out for each other in this particular field.
However, one of my setbacks was that I had a slight case of the imposter syndrome (a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”). I was constantly thinking to myself that I needed to be a little bit better before applying for any job or internship. And so I found myself stuck in a cycle of tutorials, learning more and more and never really using the knowledge to contribute to any real life applications.
Before the start of this year, I did not know the meaning of ‘Open Source’. I had always thought that it was a fancy term for very-hard-to-code software. I had googled the term before, but the search results always brought up some blog posts (that I found quite intimidating) about “How to get started on your first contribution”, that I could not really relate with. So my friend Jordan Rob tags me, and I ask rather sternly what Open Source is really all about. And he breaks it down for me bit by bit.
Once I discovered that I could contribute to software applications that people use everyday, in a major way, my excitement grew! I did some research and found that I, too, could contribute to repositories of some of the most common and widely used software applications. I was happy because my fraudulent feeling was wrong! I didn’t have to be an absolute pro at code to contribute because there were other significant ways that I could do so! Through documentation, graphics and editing, video making, audio recording among several other ways. So when the Outreachy internship opportunity came along, I grabbed it with both hands!
But my motivation for applying for the Outreachy internship does not end here. I had always yearned for a chance to work on a project that I was really passionate about together with a group of really talented developers from whom I could learn a lot and come out of there several times better than I started. I have a strong will to gain technical expertise and use the knowledge to make people’s lives better. I was motivated by the thought that if I actively contributed to an open source project that people actively used, I would benefit from the transparency of collaboration and would be able to evaluate the risks associated with required features or bug fixes more precisely. Moreover, I could actively shape the roadmap (by contributing) or at least influence its prioritization. How cool is that?!