I've always liked teaching/coaching, especially in my area of work. Thanks to a random tweet about Open Summer of Code looking for coach (and a timely retweet by the ever present Toon), I had the chance to participate to this season of Open Summer of Code (Belgium)
What's Osoc? It's a yearly four weeks event organized by Open Knowledge that bring together partners, students and coaches to deliver open source projects. Partners are companies or organisations that have a project idea and want to have a team work on it. Students are, well, people busy with their studies (but usually free in July, hence the timing) willing to experiment on some group projects - mostly with IT/computer science background, but we saw a lot of people from design or communication background too. Coaches are people working in the same areas that are there to help the students deliver.
My first surprise arriving at the info session was that coaching was actually "full time job" for the duration of the program - the second was that it was paid (students are paid too). How? The partners bring the projects, but they also bring the money. This is a boon for coaches (this can still be "billed time" which is easier to find as a freelance than pure pro bono) but also for students (they don't have to pick between the experience and earning a bit of money for their holidays).
The experience was really impressive - led by a couple of benevolent dictators (I think the official word is "Coordinators"), the Osoc machine is well oiled with the experience of numerous edition. While Covid forced it to be fully online for the second year, it really did not disrupt much. Partners comes with detailed projects, students are selected and put in groups that make sense to deliver them, and assigned coaches with the skills they need.
The result is here and the journey was a blast. With a good and battle tested structure provided by Osoc, nice and available partner and a very motived group, days did fly by on a flurry of activities - learning new technologies, discussing features and deliverables with partners, coding and even some documentation.
In a nutshell, this is an incredible experience that I would recommand to anyone working in or near the software industry - coaching is a super fun activity (it's helping as much as you can without ever doing anything the students could do - and those could do a lot), and there is a lot to learn there. Did I said it was paid, too?
Thanks a lot to benevolent dictators Astrid & Miet, to my co-coach Xavier, to Ruben & Pieter from IDLabs and mainly to Cyrille, Lin de, Jerry & Romain - you did an impressive job and working with you all was a pleasure.
See you next year!
Opinions? Let me know on Twitter!