Whether you’re just starting in your career or you’ve been working in the industry for years, you can benefit from the culture and practice of open source. I want to thank John Baluka for sharing his reflections and personal journey on this topic. I really appreciate John’s fresh business perspective on using open source to advance your learning and business. I had the opportunity to hear him share his talk on this topic during an ONETUG meeting this past week. If you’re in the Orlando area, make sure to check out ONETUG. They’re a great community of programming professionals.
I believe that John hit on 5 thoughtful benefits for getting to know open source solutions. In John’s view, you need to be strategic on your investment of time.
1. Personal learning and growth: In John’s journey, he wanted to find an example of a large software architecture written in .NET and ASP.NET MVC. He selected NopCommerce, a cool e-commerce platform for .NET developers. John organized lessons and meta-patterns from dissecting this project into a talk. Some of the topics included dependency injection, language localization, data validation, plug-in architecture, and agile design. John offered us a challenge to select and study an open source project as a tool to advance your career in architecture or software leadership. On InspiredToEducate.NET, we have talked about this principle in the context of the makers movement. Everyone can learn something from reading code, exploring a 3D model, dissecting an electronics schematic, music, art, etc. What’s an open source project that fits into your space of passion?
2. Open source software enhances your public profile of work: When you hire an interior designer, how would you make your decision? You probably would review pictures of previous work to see if the designer fits with your tastes and requirements. For the average job interview in software engineering, it’s typically hard to show code from your previous gig. (i.e. corporate secrets, policies) Most companies don’t do their work in open source. By getting involved and contributing to an open source project, you can enhance your public profile of work. How does your GitHub reflect your strengths and skills?
3. Speed to solution: It’s important to remember that software developers aren’t paid to write code. We provide value and solve business problems. Open source software enables our teams to reduce time to market. Phil Haack, creator of ASP.NET MVC and engineer at GitHub, shared a reflection that businesses should always focus on their unique value proposition. (i.e. what makes your company different than other options ) Open source provides an opportunity for companies to partner or collaborate on elements outside of your unique value proposition. Why write a big workflow system or content system when you can integrate one?
4. Open source is social: To advance your career, it’s important to expand your network and relationships. Growing authentic relationships becomes critical in growing your business. By collaborating on open source, you have an opportunity to learn from others. You have the opportunity to invest and support peers around you. I personally get excited about supporting the growth of others.
5. Business models around open source software: I really appreciate John’s reflections on this aspect. I admire his pragmatic approach to selecting NopCommerce. On one level, the open source project followed good and clean patterns. In his view, the project isn’t perfect, but you can learn something from it. By sharing his reflections on the software design during user group meetups and conferences, he started getting consulting requests to support NopCommerce integrations. He challenged us to strategically select an open source project for learning with an eye toward job growth. In the NopCommerce space, you can earn money by building store themes, building plugins, providing support or integrations. Here’s a few more blog post that elaborate on this idea.
What open source projects connect to your strengths, passions, and your career growth strategy? This was probably my favorite concept from John’s talk.
Again, I want to thank ONETUG and John Baluka for making this talk possible. I also appreciate John taking time after the meetup to hang out. I appreciate his accessibility.
Make sure to check out John’s talk and his resources.
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