Hello there friends, College days are the time when you can give your complete focus to learning and literally need not bother about anything else. People might have high ambitions at this phase of their life but sometimes lack the guidance on which path to take to achieve those ambitions. You can’t rely on the college for everything and need to find other sources to learn. At that point in my life, open source communities help me find the route to knowledge.

Instagram - @PerryGrone
Photo by Perry Grone / Unsplash

Open source communities are volunteer organizations formed for a cause such as developing a new language,a new operating system or a software and to make it open and available to everyone with the required support. These communities mostly earn from the support they provide. There are other kind of open-source communities which follow the FOSS philosophy, promoting open-source systems while addressing the issues of privacy and data-rights. I was introduced to one such community in the second year of my college and it laid a foundation for a tower of knowledge I could build later. Here are a few reasons as to why you should be a part of such communities and how it could benefit you in my experience.

Meeting new people

This is the first step in widening your knowledge repository people, meeting people from different domains. You don’t get to talk different things or what’s in trend in the tech-world or what innovations are being made or tried  in the tech-world. Getting out of the shell and meeting people from different domains gives you an idea of what is actually happening with technologies, what domain is it that you are interested in and how to practically learn it by looking at them.

The community members may be active contributors to many open source projects, which means you are actually speaking with the innovation brains behind huge existing open source projects. Also these people naturally tend to be very influential and helpful. They can provide you the with the guidance or the resource you need. Meeting up with these people regularly can greatly boost the pace of your learning.

Work experience in different domains

Once you become a regular member, you might be expected to do some tasks. Again, people here are naturally very helpful and walk you through what you need to do. This helped me gain experience in working in different domains  using different tools. This also helps me learn something new on the go by practically doing something using the the tool or whatever I had to use.

It’s amazing how much you learn without even realizing  that you are actually learning. At that point it is just getting the job done. Only when the necessity for using that particular tool arrives once again, you will realize you already learned how to use it. This naturally widens your tech stack tremendously booting your skills.

A hub for learning resource

How often have you been lost on ‘from where to learn?’ after deciding ‘what to learn’. It might happen that there are a lot of resources and you have difficulty in choosing which resource to follow or trust or it might arise from the situation that there are very limited resource to learn from. Well in these situations communities prove really useful on providing resources or guiding.

You can inquire with people who know something about the stuff you want to learn or you can at least get contacts from your fellow community members. Common practices include grouping people with common learning interest and then carrying the learning process forward as teams. Complex learning decisions gets simplified here.

A stage for presenting your views

Open-source communities are always open to feedback and views. This is not a hierarchy where superiors talk and you just listen. You can feel free to put forth your views, get the feedback for those views, actively participate in meetings. Above all you won’t be treated as a student and you will be given every opportunity as every other member in the community. This is the best place to get criticism, the required correction and the support required for your ideas and innovation.

General Skills

You general skills will get a great enhancement here. Every skill from communication to organizing will have considerable enhancement as you may have to take up tasks like conducting meetups, organizing, scheduling etc. Being able to express, talk freely and contribute as a team to a purpose does change your character positively in many ways.

Conclusion

Being in an open-source community may require extra efforts from you but, if you can put in the effort you can accomplish a lot more than what you could have done by following a academic curriculum. All the points mentioned above were key factors that helped me in improving myself and to stay updated with the latest tech and yes to learn them. If you get an opportunity to join such community I would strongly recommend you follow it as it helps you to develop your skills, widen your knowledge, giving your the confidence to innovate and ultimately improve your efficiency.