Mentorship Wednesday! I’ll be writing up posts today for all the contributor teams about mentorship programs:

  • A one-month beginning contributor ramp-up mentorship
  • A three-month project mentorship
  • Specific third-party programs like GSoC and OPW

GSoC
I’ll be starting the GSoC application process this week (deadline to apply is Feb 14). I would like to have a backup administrator for the GSoC program that isn’t someone heavily involved in development of core, but someone with some free time and good project management skills. Responsibilities would be helping wrangle potential mentors to write up project descriptions and bios in the next week or so, and then if we’re accepted, helping to oversee the selection of students/mentor pairings (including running a couple of irc chats), and once it starts, helping with weekly check-ins. If anyone is interested in helping out with this, hands up in the comments. Note: because this program is important to us, this would not be something I’d feel comfortable handing over to someone brand new to the community. Familiarity with the WordPress project and involvement in some way (core, forums, docs, WordCamps, etc) would be desired, so that there’s some level of trust already established.

OPW
Last year we had 2 OPW interns, one in core and one in support. Unlike GSoC, for OPW we have to raise the 5k per intern ourselves (in 2013, Automattic provided the funding). I’ll be reaching out to a couple of hosting companies and such this week to see if they’d want to sponsor an intern, but in the meantime we would need to be better organized. We have the GSoC program down pretty well, but we need similar structures in place for the other groups (OPW is available for any contributor area, not just code). If we de decide to participate, will need a backup admin for this as well.

One-Month Program, Three-Month Program
Time to try a pilot for our own official mentorship program. After discussing it with a bunch of different people who’ve asked about having such a program and a bunch who’d be in the position of mentoring, here’s what I came up with that I’d like to try as a pilot this spring (before the GSoC coding period).

  • One-Month Program. For each group, devise a 4 week introduction to contributing with that group that focuses on hands-on practice. A mentor will connect with mentee(s) once per week officially, and may be in contact as needed throughout. Each week will have a goal or set of goals as well as homework for practice (example: in the week of learning how to work with svn, homework might be to create 5 patches and upload them to a ticket we use for training purposes). The most common thing I hear from people is that they learn how at a dev day or meetup, but forget the steps and don’t want to sound dumb if they ask again, so focusing on repetition is the key idea with this.
  • Three-Month Program. Basically just like GSoC/OPW, but we run it ourselves, people don’t get paid, and we do it each season.

For the one-month beginner version, in keeping with the pilot aspect I’d like to run them in two varieties.
1. One-on-one mentor-mentee pairings.
2. Small cohorts. One mentor (plus backup mentor) for a group of 3-10 new contributors.
The idea behind trying both is to see if we get different results with one-on-one vs small classes where the mentees can also bond with each other and help each other as they go along. If it does work better, that would be awesome in terms of scalability. We can also record the weekly mentor chats/lessons for people to follow along on their own even if they’re not in the program.