Benefits of getting involved

Build a public portfolio of work

Josh Wulf says it best in his article The Impact GitHub is Having on Your Software Career.

"…the benefits and consequences of working in the open are clear: your reputation is yours and is portable between companies. GitHub is a social network where your social capital, created by your commits and contribution to the global conversation in whatever technology you are working, is yours — not tied to the company you happen to be working at temporarily."

If you are only working behind the closed doors of your company, the work you do is only visible to your present employer. If you work in the open, your work is visible to everyone. Even if recruiters and hiring managers don’t use your open source presence to find you, you will be able to use it in a job interview to show evidence of your skills and work habits.

Learn new skills

Open source projects are at the heart of every major IT endeavor today. By contributing to open source projects, you will learn new skills that will help you in your career. These skills include:

  • Git/GitHub
  • Markdown
  • Technical writing and documentation
  • Coding and scripting languages
  • Process automation
  • Release management

These are not just technical skills. These are meta-skills. You will learn how to work with others, how to communicate, and how to manage your time.

Grow the community and your network

As you contribute to open source projects, you build your reputation and make connections with other people in the community. If you are contributing to a project that is important to you, you not only improve that project for yourself, but for the entire community.

“Your reputation is your location in a network of trust. When you change companies, that weakens and some of it is lost. …

Unless you’ve built a brand by speaking at conferences or some other big ticket thing, the trust you built up by working with others and committing code to a corporate internal repository is gone.

However, if that work has been on GitHub, it’s not gone. It’s visible. It’s connected to a network of trust that is visible.” - Josh Wulf

And remember, public contributions to Microsoft projects helps you earn or maintain your MVP status.