Contributor Mentorship Program for WordPress

The WordPress Contributor Working Group is attempting to bring new contributors to WordPress by creating a culture of mentorship in the program. We are attempting to do so in several ways, which include running mentorship cohorts, creating a pool of mentorsEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues., and by attempting to create mentorship programs. After its formation in 2023, the group tested out the idea by running an experimental mentorship program cohort in 2023 July-August, which was quite successful.

The Working Group completed running the second cohort in 2024 Q1. More details can be found in the graduation post. For more information on mentorship, please refer to the cohorts information page.

What is the Contributor Mentorship Program?

At its coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress., the contributor mentorship program aims to provide a foundation for new and aspiring contributors to succeed in (and with) the project by helping them build necessary tools and skill set – through cohort-based and 1:1 mentorship. 

The program offers to improve the overall onboarding experience for new contributors in WordPress through effective mentorship opportunities. It is aimed at new contributors to WordPress (mentees) who will be supported by veteran contributors (mentors). Mentees learn the basics of contributing to the project by working with mentors before they start working on Make/Teams of their choice. By being a part of the mentorship program and having access to mentorship, newer contributors can make successful ongoing contributions to the project and stay on to become veterans. In addition to supporting the project by empowering contributors, the program also aims to impart vital skills to participants through contributing, which will support their professional choices and careers.

The pilot edition of the mentorship program was held a four-week event between July 12th and August 9th, 2023. 13 participants (mentees) asynchronously worked together in a cohort with a group of 13 mentors (one mentorEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues. each per mentee) to build a strong foundation in the WordPress project and make initial contributions to the contributor team of their choice. This was be made possible through cohort-based and personalized 1:1 mentorship, guided courses, and live online workshops. A brief overview of the program can be found in the flowchart below:

mentorship program

The pilot cohort of the program was scheduled as follows:

  • Week 1 and Week 2 (July 12th through July 25th)
    During this week, mentees were oriented to the project. They learned about the project through mentorship, some pre-designed courses, and certain workshops which we hosted. Mentees also worked with their mentors to get a broad guidance about the program, and also decided the teams that they wish to contribute to.
  • Week 3 and Week 4 (July 26th through August 9th)
    By now, mentees had received an overview of the project, and in the coming weeks, they focused on getting onboarded to the Make/WordPress team of their choice. Mentees attended onboarding workshops organized by team representatives, and got support from team representatives to make contributions to the teams of their choice.

The USP of this cohort was that it aligned with the WordPress 6.3 release, which offered mentees an inside view of how a WordPress release gets out in the wild.

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Mentors

Our Mentors offer 1:1 support to each contributor in our cohort. These mentors check-in with mentees each week to offer them support and guidance on the program and to answer any questions that they may have about the same, while offering them guidance and direction on our program. Here’s a list of mentors in our current cohort, with each mentor being assigned to one participant/mentee.

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Participating Make/Teams and Representatives

As part of our mentorship program, our participants will get onboarded to the Make/Teams of their choice. We have the following folks representing multiple teams, who will help our contributors get onboarded to the project. Our inaugural cohort will only have a limited set of teams – you will find below a list of teams and team representatives who will help onboard contributors to the respective teams over the course of the mentorship program. For our pilot cohort, we had representatives from Core, Community, Documentation, Photos, Polyglots, Support, Test, and Training teams.

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Facilitators

Facilitators are members of the working group who did all the heavy lifting of running and managing the program.

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Results of the Pilot Cohort

The inaugural cohort had a group of 13 contributors who were selected as mentees from a pool of around 50 applicants. Out of this group, 11 contributors completed all the required courses, interacted with their mentors to learn about the program, got onboarded to Make/WordPress teams of their choice, and made their initial contributions to the WordPress project. Please join me in congratulating all our mentees who have graduated from the program!

Our mentors, mentees, and facilitators joined forces in a dedicated SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. channel in the Make/WordPress Slack. For the first two weeks of the program (July 12th through July 25th), our mentees learned about the project, by taking certain courses and through support from their mentors. For the next two weeks (July 26th through August 9th), they attended onboarding sessions of different Make/Teams and made some initial contributions to the WordPress project. In between, mentees also got to see a bird’s eye view of how a WordPress release works, through our dedicated shadowing and onboarding sessions supported by our facilitators and Make/Team representatives. More details can be found in our launch post.

Our mentees did a fantastic job as part of the mentorship program! Overall, they were quite active, going the extra mile to complete their required courses, and attending onboarding sessions, with many folks even shadowing the WordPress 6.3 release and attending team chats! Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of achievements from our cohort members.

  • 12 participants completed the required Learn WordPress courses – 89% completion rate
  • Two members gained Core Contribution badges and one members submitted a core patch. 
  • One member suggested 400 translations in Danish and got involved in WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. Denmark
  • One member actively participated in forums with 51 replies
  • Another contributor over 1200 translations in Catalan, and multiple bug reports on Learn WordPress 
  • A participant translations to WP 6.3 in Brazilian Portuguese
  • Another participant submitted a Photo Directory bug and suggested 200+ translations
  • Yet another contributor submitted contributions to the Documentation Team by updating a screenshot for WordPress 6.3
  • Four contributors submitted photos to the Photo Directory
  • Several contributors contributed to the Make/Training Team and one contributor even contributed code.

One of our big wins from the program was how we tried to broadcast the same towards a broader audience in the #contributor-mentorship channel of the Make/WordPress Slack, where several contributors followed-along the progress of the events and participated asynchronously in the mentorship program. The channel will continue to remain active, and we plan to use it to facilitate more public mentorship opportunities for contributors! 

Another milestone for our group is about how local communities are attempting to adapt this program for their own locales. For instance, @javiercasares is already working on translating key materials of this program to Spanish with a plan of potentially hosting a future cohort for Spanish speaking folks. There has also been significant interest from the German community thanks to outreach efforts from @coachbirgit who has also kick-started efforts to bolster contributor onboarding at the upcoming WordCamp Germany 2023!

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Additional Resources

To get a good overview of the mentorship program, please check the following additional resources:

Follow updates on the mentorship program:

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