Linux Plumbers Conference for Students

Sep 17, 2008

Yesterday's Linux Plumbers Conference Student Microconference was a successful interaction between experienced industry programmers and student coders from across the United States.

"Meritocracy" was the word of the day. Red Hat's Steve Rostedt said it best: "If you want to get a job, show your skill."

One of the most highly prized skills seems to be the ability to grow a thick skin for handling the tough feedback in kernel development, but the main point was that results – kernel patches or other successful open source projects – are more important than lack of experience when looking for a new job.

LPC's "Benevolent Dictator" Kristen Carlson Accardi gave the most hands-on presentation, "Device Drivers." Event coordinator Sarah Sharp's "How To Get Paid/Credit For Open Source" provided some of the best information for first steps in the industry, and Paul McKenney's "Concurrency and Race Conditions" was certainly the most entertaining talk of the day.
A couple of the presenters seemed to forget that their audience was filled with students looking to find out more information
about open source development and opportunities for breaking into the open source community. Instead, at least one of the presenters talked more about the open source industry and its market impact than student involvement in that industry. This was, however, not the norm.

The most engaging presentation was an open source career panel that included four industry professionals – from small companies and large – who talked casually with students about career expectations, interviews, contract negotiations, work environments and demonstration of programing skills. Of specific interest to students was the importance of experience as viewed via the Internet: When many interviews by prospective employers are conducted via phone, it becomes paramount to
post projects on the web or participate in programming mailing lists in order to establish an Internet presence that speaks for itself.

The microconference was an excellent way to show talented student programmers their next steps in the open source community.

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