ROSE Blog Interviews: GNOME.Asia's Emily Chen
ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange
Q: Who are you?
A: Emily Chen, currently living in Beijing, China. I'm a software engineer working in the Sun OpenSolaris desktop team. Now I am responsible for the quality of the Mozilla products like Firefox and Thunderbird on OpenSolaris. I am passionate about open source – I am a core contributor to the OpenSolaris community in 2009, I worked on Google Summer of Code program as a mentor in 2006 and 2007, organized the first ever GNOME.Asia Summit 2008 in Beijing, and founded the Beijing GNOME Users Group. Now I am the president of Beijing GNOME Users Group. I graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology with a Master's degree in computer science. In my spare time, I like snowboarding, hiking, and swimming.
Q: What do you currently do in open source? What do you love about it?
A: I've worked in many open source communities since 2004.
In the GNOME community, I worked on Accessibility and Evolution five years ago as a quality engineer. In 2008, after I attended GUADEC conference twice, I thought we should have a similar GNOME conference in Asia, so I start the brand GNOME.Asia with the support from GNOME foundation. The first ever GNOME.Asia Summit 2008 was hosted in Beijing in October successfully. After the summit, I start the Beijing GNOME Users Group (November 2008). Now the Beijing GNOME Users Group is growing everyday, with the support from many companies in Beijing: Sun, Intel, Google, and Novell, etc. The monthly meetings are hosted in those company's offices.
I am paid by Sun to work on Mozilla products like Firefox and Thunderbird on OpenSolaris platform. So I am also a active member in the Mozilla community and OpenSolaris community. I organized Firefox Testday in China univeristies, to improve the quality of Firefox as well as promote the open source spirit among students.
I really love what am I doing in open source communities. I enjoy sharing the ideas, contributing to a project, promoting the open source communities, and communicating with people all over the world.
Q: You're speaking to a group of women from other fields who are considering switching careers. Why should they consider moving into an open source-related career? What should they know about the open source environment to prepare them for the transition from a different field?
A: There are many opportunities in the open source field. As a women, you can be any role you want to be. You are not only to be a developers, but also you can be a QA, you can be an evangelist, marketing people, expert about the license, community manager, etc. The open source community is a big world, and it has enough space for women to grow and contribute their wisdom.
Before moving to an open source environment, knowing the basic rules about open source is important, for example, what's the process like, what's the license of every project, what's the difference between those licenses. How does the community run, where does the money come from? What's the structure of the community/foundation. There's some basic knowledge about open source community, which women who want move in should know.
Q: You're speaking to a group of high school students (male and female). Why should they consider exploring career options in open source?
A: There are many good projects for students to study and practice what they have learned in school. If you have participated in some open source projects, your resume looks better. Lots of jobs are open in companies who are working with open source. Open source offers an understanding of the outside world, a better chance to communicate with senior people who have been working in this field for many years, and opportunities to start their own businesses.
Q: What question do you wish I'd asked? And how would you answer it?
A: If you are not paid to do the open source work, will you continue to contribute to open source community ? Yes, I will do it in my spare time.
If you are a woman in open source, I'd love it if you'd take a moment to answer these interview questions and send your responses to me at rkite AT linuxpromagazine DOT com. (Otherwise, I'll try to track you down at an event or online!) If you'd like me to interview a particular woman in open source, drop me a line and let me know who she is and where to find her.
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