Graduates: How to Get Your Dream Open Source Job


The excitement that comes with a college degree is memorable – not only because of the joy of accomplishment, but because of the fear of the unknown.

In the open source community, job hunting is its own unique experience. There is great optimism and opportunity in The Linux Foundation’s 2016 Open Source Jobs Report, which found that recruiting open source talent is a top priority for IT recruiters and hiring managers. The report found 65 percent of hiring managers say open source hiring will continue to increase more than any other part of their business over the next six months.

But for many candidates, there’s also the pressure to secure a dream job right out of school. And for hiring managers, there’s a competitive structure to identify and recruit top young talent. What can graduates do to capitalize on this growing market and get the job of their dreams?

Open Source is growing fast and there are numerous factors driving the increased number of jobs. More and more customers are recognizing the value of investing in open source technologies, and this is creating a greater need for more skilled and passionate employees to fill those jobs. At SUSE, we are experiencing first-hand the fast pace of growth, hiring for more than 111 jobs across all facets of the organization, and we are identifying many new opportunities that apply to both experienced and less experienced candidates. These positions are addressing an uptick of new technologies being embraced by enterprises within a wide range of industries. Take OpenStack, for example, where 81 percent of senior IT professionals are planning to move, or are already moving, to OpenStack private cloud. All of this technology, powered by open source, is causing a greater need for zealous workers to fill those jobs.

For applicants, like college grads, who may lack more experience, there are numerous positions available varying from intern positions to junior roles in programming and QA. Companies are looking for candidates who possess the right basic skills, but even more important, the right personality and attitude toward this industry.

Experience, Knowledge, and Passion

Certification is always a nice add-on but not essential to securing the position. Active participation in the open source community, relevant experience, and technical knowledge are quality ingredients hiring managers and recruiters look for in new hires. In addition, there needs to be visible passion that will propel individuals to build experiences that will help to grow a career in open source. SUSE, for example, has a large number of colleagues who have grown their careers, and retention of these young professionals is very important.

When undergoing the interview process as a college grad, you will find there are always minimum requirements hiring managers look for, including attitude, team fit, language and technical skills/expertise. You will often be asked to complete a specific task that demonstrates your technical abilities. The interview process goes both ways, though; organizations need to ensure that potential new hires receive enough information about the position and the company so candidates can make an intelligent choice in their favor.

For those still in school or looking to further understand what path you should pursue to qualify for an open source job, here are a few tips to help guide you. For starters, it’s important to have open source in your genes! It’s all about understanding and appreciating the way open source works and how it is being embraced by businesses globally.

Once you dedicate your time to understanding the specifics of how open source works, it’s a great idea to get involved in one or more open source projects that interest you. Observe what contributions are being made and how you can follow suit. Use this as a chance to build your network in the open source community. And start contributing! There is no better entry to being accepted in the open source community than contributing to projects you are equally passionate about. Start small, and act professionally.

Marie Louise van Deutekom is Global HR Director, SUSE.