OPW: Importance of communication (as a wrap-up for internship)

The internship ended a week ago, but honestly I didn’t notice it – I as contributed to OpenStack, as plan to do it later. I see it as most important outcome of the OPW program: a bunch of people will continue to help the world of free and open software.

Today I want to discuss about importance of communications and person-to-person openness, when working in such unusual configuration: remote, distributed around the world team. Only few teammates you will ever meet face to face on different conferences.

First lets talk about distributed team and about timezones.

Working in different timezones was not a problem, such situation was even an advantage. Most of the team I’m working with is based in the USA and I’m from Europe. So morning for me - night for them, afternoon for me - daytime for them etc.

I managed to work with following schedule: productive coding session in the morning, while everything is quiet: almost no discussion in the IRC, no comments on the reviews. After the first track of work I could have several hours of rest, cook some food etc. And at 4pm there was another session of the work: more social one – problems discussion, reviews, questions.

I don’t say, that there are no problems, they are. But unusual situation can lead to interesting opportunities, not only limitations.

But one time this schema didn’t work well.

After completing the proposal earlier and having some rest for the wedding, I tried to return to the work again and finish internship doing something else. On the task we chose with the mentor I supposed to work in close collaboration with another person. I could hardly understood the task and its progress, although other participant tried to keep me updated. Each morning, when it should the most productive period – I was full of doubts, if what I was doing was actually what was required to do. It killed motivation almost to zero.

Another problem was that there were a lot of interesting tasks around, that I wanted and knew I could do. But I was feeling guilty, that I was doing current task badly, it was impossible to take something more.

One day I just tired of such situation and wrote email to the mentor honestly describing the problem. And - boom! - nothing bad happened – we just decided, that if it was not productive setup, it was worth to change it.

So I want to ask any OPW applicant or intern that will read this post: be open and transparent with your mentor and don’t hesitate to discuss problems with people that can solve them.

And the last – many thanks to my mentor Flavio Percoco (flaper87) for support during the internship.