Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great Time to Make a Name for Yourself

There have been a lot of articles coming out recently as the recession permeates to the technology sector. Largely unaffected by the financial turmoil until a couple of months ago, you are now seeing more technology companies reducing their earnings expectations for the current and upcoming financial quarters. Luckily, open source based companies have been one bright spot. While they may not be hiring as robustly as they were earlier in the year, they are also not trimming their staff levels like other parts of the technology sector. And, we still see a high demand for Linux kernel engineers, application developers, etc. in some of the highly concentrated technology hubs in the country.

With all this turmoil, we tend to spend a lot of time providing advice to individuals on how to weather the downturn. Joe Brockmeier of ZDNet provides a lot of beneficial points in a recent blog posting . He talks about staying active with open source projects, and thus communicating with a lot of other open source developers throughout the world. This all prepares one for their next employment opportunity if they are indeed looking for one.

Therefore, now is the time. Whether you were recently part of a workforce reduction or you happen to work for a company that is closing for an extended period of time during the holidays (we are seeing more of this this year), you need to position yourself properly. As I have said in the past, I have been fortunate to witness a number of individuals who have made great strides in their careers by making a name for themselves through their open source contributions.

The key to their success is providing patches for projects that have a strong following. Now, by no means am I downgrading the lesser known projects out there. They are very relevant as well, and I encourage people to participate in any project that they have a passion for. But, if one of your goals is to turn your open source contributory work into full-time employment, you must look at who the active members are in the project. By analyzing these individuals, you should be able to tell if they are getting paid to continue their work in that project. If indeed they are, then there is a likely chance that you might be offered employment by that company if you are able to provide useful code to that project.

Overall, you have a choice to make. You can either wallow in a state of mediocrity and be depressed about the current state of the economy, or you can utilize your skills to provide beneficial code to an open source project that stirs your passion. And, as the economy improves (it is bound to at some point), you will reap the benefits. The beauty of open source is that everyone has an equal chance at making a name for themselves, and now is a great time to get started.

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