It’s okay to ask for help

For the biggest part of my involvement with open source software as a documenter and tester, my work has involved tasks that range from testing new software features for bugs and documenting them on jira ticket tracking system, to documenting software features through creating videos. During my application for the outreachy internship with mUzima mobile, the tasks I was assigned were not so different from what I had been exposed to. Making contributions that led to my acceptance as an outreachy intern was pretty smooth, I was in my comfort zone. However, life is not full of comfort zones and once in a while, we do step out of our comfort zones. This could find us prepared or unprepared but at the end of the day we have to deliver.

My first tasks as a mUzima outreachy intern involved testing tickets on the muzima jira https://tickets.muzima.org , reviewing existing mUzima documentation and coming up with ways of improving it. I tested tickets and documented test results on jira, reviewed documentation on the website https://www.muzima.org/ and wiki https://wiki.muzima.org, updated the wiki where necessary while taking note of areas to improve on the website. This I achieved easily, got an in-depth understanding of the project while also making contributions.

With the next set of tasks came an avenue for learning, I was to do something new, something out of my usual tasks. I was excited but at the same time a bit anxious. The task was to create a project on the mUzima jira and install the zephyr plugin to allow for better management of the test cycles with the different muzima releases. This plugin provides functionalities like ability create test cases that can be cloned and re-used for testing against different software releases and also ability to clone testing steps under each test case.

First, I had to read up on the plug-in and watch tutorials using some resources provided by my mentor. Next, I proceeded to create a project on the mUzima jira. The steps were pretty forward for creating a new project! Guess what! I could not find the button for “Create new project”. I looked up all online resources I possibly could but still no button! Then I thought to myself, could it be that I am working with a different version of jira! It wasn’t the case. I was frustrated! 😦 I was running out of time, the conference call in which I had to present my work was coming up but I was afraid to ask for help on how to find a mere button. After spending a whole day looking for the button, I eventually decided to reach out to my mentor for help. She responded by saying she would grant me administrator privileges to enable me proceed. All that time in my search for the button, it did not occur to me that all I needed were administrator privileges. If I hadn’t reached out to my mentor, I would not have created the project and installed the plugin on time. Additionally, if I had reached out earlier, I would have saved a lot of time. But well, better late than never! 😊 Asking for help when stuck became much easier while executing the next steps in my tasks. I had to ask in order to learn.

We all get stuck sometimes, be it with simple or complex tasks and it is okay to ask for help when we do. As outreachy interns, we can ask for help from our mentors, open source community members, outreachy internship organizers and other people who we think can help.

Ask and learn! 😀

My Outreachy Journey Begins

With a background in Environmental Health Science and great passion for technology, I enrolled for Master’s in Health Informatics with the aim of gaining knowledge and skills in information technology that I could apply in the healthcare field. It was during my Master’s program that I had my first encounter with the term Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

I was intrigued by the community aspect of FOSS and how it provided an easy and fast approach to problem solving by users of this software. In 2015, my involvement with FOSS began. I joined communities of software like OpenMRS, mUzima, and MOODLE as a volunteer. As a volunteer,  I participated by responding to conversations in the community forums and also did some documentation and testing. It was through my interaction with members of FOSS that I learnt about Outreachy internships.

As an Outreachy intern with mUzima software, I am building my skills in testing and documentation while getting paid for a period of three months. Outreachy internships run twice a year and interns have the privilege of choosing the FOSS they would like to work with.

Visit https://www.outreachy.org/for more information on how to become an outreachy intern

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