The Women of OpenStack introduce groups of newcomers to mentors

A new kind of match-making: Speed mentoring

The Women of OpenStack introduce groups of newcomers to mentors.

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My primary focus is to make contributing to the OpenStack community easier and more fun.

I'm an upstream developer advocate for the OpenStack Foundation, and this work includes bringing new people into the community, making sure members of the community feel valued, and reducing conflict and removing roadblocks to contribution. It's also part of my job to smooth the path for newcomers just starting to get involved in the community.

In many cases, people looking to contribute often don’t know where to start—a mentor can point new people in the right direction and help them feel involved and engaged.

A mentoring program

The Women of OpenStack recognized this need for mentors and started a mentoring program that matches mentors with newbies based on the type of mentoring they need and other factors like: what area of the community they are interested in, where they live, what sort of interaction they would like in their mentoring sessions, if they want technical or career help, and more.

We are currently running our second round of enrollment in preparation for the OpenStack Barcelona Summit, with the target of enrolling people four times a year (before each Summit and Project Team Gathering). OpenStack Summits and Project Team Gatherings alternate throughout the year, occurring about every three months giving people the opportunity to meet with other Stackers face to face. We hope to get as many people as possible enrolled and matched before the Barcelona Summit. Then, hopefully, many of our mentors and mentees can start their relationship with a face to face meeting.

Currently, we have over 150 people signed up to be mentors and mentees.

How it works

We send one introductory email to the mentor and mentee informing them about the match. Then we give the pair space to make their own decisions about how and when to meet. We want them to decide what is best for them. Around three months later we check in with a short survey, but mostly we leave the pairs alone to develop their relationship and trust they will come to us if they have questions.

Lately, we've been discussing what 'graduation criteria' could signal the end to the relationship. We hope to have more guidance for mentors and mentees on this soon.

Speed mentoring

The Women of OpenStack have a Speed Mentoring event that we hold at the Summits. The goal is to start the Summit by introducing groups of newcomers to mentors, so they are sure to make a few connections at their first Summit.

A few volunteer mentors come and talk to groups of mentees, answer questions they have, and give guidance about where they can go for more help. It's been successful in the past and we hope to continue to grow the event.

Get involved

Are you interested in signing up to be a mentor or mentee? Fill out this form.

Do you want to attend the Barcelona Summit Speed Mentoring event? It will be Tuesday October 25 at 7:30 AM. Please sign up and RSVP.

For more information on different types of mentoring in the OpenStack community? Please see our wiki. For more information on helping to grow and evolve the mentoring program we hold bi-weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 8:00 UTC in the #openstack-meeting channel on IRC.

About the author

Kendall Nelson - Kendall is an Upstream Developer Advocate at the Open Infrastructure Foundation based in Seattle, WA. She first started working on OpenStack during the Liberty release (2015) on Cinder and since then been involved in Release Management, StoryBoard, the First Contact SIG, the Contributor Guide, OpenStack Upstream Institute and the vice chair of the OpenStack Technical Committee. She's recently gotten more involved in the Kubernetes community helping bridge between it and the OpenStack community...