Inside Outreachy: My experience as an Intern with Oppia

I was at a tech event in 2019 during my graduate program when I eavesdropped on a conversation two undergraduate students were having about career opportunities in tech and they mentioned Outreachy Internship as one of the opportunities students are eligible to apply for.  Fast forward to 2022 after I completed the graduate program, I decided to apply for the program after fully delving into the tech space as a User Experience Designer. This article recounts my experience as an Outreachy Intern.

What is Outreachy?

You might be wondering what it is and why entry-level tech enthusiasts are drawn to the program. Outreachy is a 3-month internship program targeted at people who are under severed in the tech space. I know at this point, you would like to know what qualifies you as under-resourced. Generally, people from third-world countries are seen as underrepresented based on certain factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, religion, ethics, and age, just to mention a few. Outreachy seeks to give people within the aforementioned categories the opportunities they don’t have access to in their countries. Let’s talk about applying for the program. 

The initial application phase!

To ensure Outreachy is achieving its goals of focusing on people who are underrepresented in tech, applicants are required to write an essay about the discrimination they have faced within the tech space, to verify their eligibility for the program. Also, since it’s a full-time internship role, participants are asked about their time commitment, just to be sure they will be available during the internship round. 

As a Nigerian, I had too many stories to tell, so I picked my pen and paper and wrote some horrible experiences I have had with the tech space and how it made me feel as an individual. I remember I wrote about how I was affected by religion in the tech space. Another experience I wrote about was the Infamous End Sars protest and the events leading to it. 

During this phase, you want to focus on telling your personal story, rather than generalizing. A common rule will be to go straight to the point and don’t waste time populating your essay with data that are available everywhere on the internet. Focus on telling your story in a way anyone reading it can feel your pain points and how you are being discriminated against in the tech space. Also, ensure your time commitment supports 40 hours of full-time role during the round of internship. 

The Outreachy contribution phase.

If you made it past the initial application, congratulations, you have been selected as a contributor to the Outreachy program. The contribution phase is Perhaps the most vital stage of the Outreachy internship, and it is so because this is the point when you have to pick the projects you will like to work on. At this stage, you have the opportunity to select a project that matches your interest and skill set, and you are allowed to contribute to multiple projects. However, for an intern to be selected, you will be required to complete a certain task within the Free Open Source Community (FOSC) you are joining and contributing to. 


For me, I only worked on one project which is a little bit risky considering the fierce competition in the contribution phase with many applicants competing for the same position as you, so it’s about making meaningful contributions to stand out. The project I picked matched my long time goal and I also found a Kin interest in the project itself because it directly impacts my immediate community here in Nigeria, so project selection for me was a mix of what matters to me in the long run and what benefits my society. 


To stand out in the contribution phase, you need to be active on the community chat platform, complete all tasks on time, research more ways to contribute to the open source community, communicate well with your mentors, and show that you want to be a part of the open source community. Also, after the contribution phase, ensure you continue to contribute to the project, as this shows that you are interested beyond the contribution phase and that will help you stand out among other candidates. (I know it looks too much, but think about the number of things you will benefit from this in the end.) I wish you good luck at this stage. 

Working with Oppia as one of the FOSS on Outreachy

Just in case you don’t know what FOSS means, I got you. It stands for Free Open Source Software which means a software system that people from around the world are contributing to voluntarily and they are mostly run by Not-for-profit organizations if you will like to know about NPOs, I wrote about it a while back, you can read it here. 

Let’s talk about Oppia.

Oppia is an Edutech platform that is targeted at students in an underserved environment with little to no access to quality education (you probably know the reason why I choose this project by now 🙂 ). Beyond its commitment to serving a good cause as a FOSS, Oppia is an amazing community of awesome contributors from around the world, with some of its top contributors from Google, Accenture, and other Fortune 500 companies. Before my internship round, Oppia has been expanding its reach to Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya and the organization was working on a Go-to-market Strategy and User Experience Research. In case you will like to volunteer at Oppia, you can follow this link to get started. 

 As an Intern with Oppia, I was tasked with a few responsibilities which include onboarding new partners(NGOs and Schools), Drafting research plans, conducting user studies, translations of lessons into native languages, and Marketing. Working on these various parts of the organization was an amazing experience because it gave me an understanding of what it takes to lunch a successful product. Also, I was opportune to meet amazing mentors who were invested in helping me make meaningful contributions to the Oppia Team. Looking back now, I can say I have made significant progress within the community and also met with great minds who are committed to seeing education accessible to everyone here in Africa.

Next step!

Outreachy has been an eye-opener for me because I have had a great experience learning from the amazing contributors at Oppia. In the next couple of months, I will be building capacity in my career as a User Experience Designer and solidifying my skills to continue to thrive as a designer. I have connected with more people within the Oppia community who are fun to work with, so I intend to continue to work with the team at Oppia. I am excited about the next phase of my journey and I know growth is inevitable. 

Thanks for reading 🙂