Want to Work for a Startup? Contribute to Open Source!

Our CEO at SocialRadar, @michaelchasen just tweeted an article entitled “Want to work for a startup?” which had 5 great tips for getting hired at a startup.

I’d like to get up on my virtual soapbox here and suggest that there be one addition:

 6. Contribute to Open Source

This assumes you want to join a startup on the technical side of course, but few things will get you more noticed and be more impressive to the hiring engineers at a startup than contributing to open source.

Whether you are creating a library from scratch or helping on an existing one, contributing to open source shows how you can collaborate, will get your name out there, provides a potential employer with a code sample, and shows you have the motivation to build something outside of work.

Before I joined SocialRadar I wrote a small utility library for generating random stuff I called Chance. I wrote it from scratch with documentation, support for the browser and Node.js, unit tests, the whole nine yards.

I got a ton of traffic to the project page and my own personal website because it was tweeted and linked all over the web including some heavy hitters like DailyJS. In just a few months it has rocketed to a few hundred stars on Github, has been forked many times, and has led to 28 pull requests that I have triaged and merged thus far.

My intent here in rattling off these facts is not hubris, but rather to show that my decision to spend a weekend building this library did a fantastic job of getting my name out there and continues to serve as a wonderful showcase of my ability to write good, clean code, to be responsible for maintaining a codebase, to be literate in my documentation, and to be thorough on my test coverage. It serves as a public record of my interactions with other contributors and as a great portfolio piece for the work that I do.

And thanks to the support my work has received on Twitter, Github, and other virtual communities, it serves as a hearty community approval that I’m doing something right and that my skills would be quite valuable to a startup.

With all of the benefits above and the buzz I received for my library it’s no wonder my name came up when SocialRadar was looking for a Node.js expert in the Washington DC tech community.

Want to join a startup? Contribute to open source today!

You should follow me on twitter here.


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