Being a mentor requires your time, a clear vision of your
project and good organization skills. We carefully compiled some tips,
tricks and guidelines for mentoring into our
Please read this for more information about being a mentor.
You want to know what it means to mentor a new contributor to our project?
Wonderful, let us guide you on what we think is important to know, what
our best practices are and which behavior in mentors we desire.
Here is our ten step program for mentoring!
1. Mentees First
We believe in putting the mentees needs first. You need to emphasize
with the mentee, understand their personality, requirements and
circumstances. Make an effort to understand where the mentee comes from
and what you need to do, to get them to contribute to free software.
Mentoring is about them, not about your or openSUSEs needs.
2. Build a Relationship and have a lot of fun…
The most important goal is that you build a relationship based on trust
and respect with the mentee and that you have fun together. Without this
everything else you’ll do is in vein! Such relationships do not just
happen, they need ongoing effort and attention, especially during the
3. Be a role model
Today this sounds like a weird thing from the 60s and it makes most
people uncomfortable but you need to be a role model for your mentee!
Free Software development is as much about behavior in a community,
knowing what you want, and the ability to convey this to others as it
is about pointers, gcc macros and git command line options. You need
to ensure that your mentee can follow your example and that you’re
not passing on your bad habits. You are responsible for developing
the competence AND character of the mentee!
4. Set goals and expectations
The first thing you’ll do together with the mentee is to prepare for the
far future. Precise, reasonable and well-thought-out goals are a must
for every successful mentoring project. Getting into free software
development can be an overwhelming and daunting endeavor. A decent
plan provides a path and helps to take one step after the other into
this strange new world. It’s your duty that the goals and expectations
for the project are do-able, provide orientation and are technically sound.
You’re the expert!
5. Track Progress
We encourage you to set up regular milestones in your plan that get
reviewed and celebrated by you and your mentee. It’s important to
understand where you are and how you progress. Additionally we believe
that talking as often as you can is what builds the relationship and
bonding with your mentee. The consistency of your relationship is very
important. Find a regular schedule where you meet, we recommend short
daily meetings to check in on progress and address obstacles.
Our community consists of very experienced people and is
one of the biggest and diverse free software projects on this planet.
We provide well thought out structures, processes and infrastructure
that reflect our experience with introducing new contributors since
day one of our existence. openSUSE believes that one of the most
important tasks is to bring in new hackers with new perspectives,
backgrounds and ideas into our community. Make sure that you make use
of this environment to the full extent!
7. Be Agile
The only thing that is constant is change! You need to adapt your plan,
milestones, time line, the technical details, your behavior and
attitude during your time. Respond to change, help your mentee to do
the same. Be open, courageous, and committed!
Whatever challenge you face, remember you are not alone! You mingle on
the shoulders of giants together with many other openSUSE mentors.
Make sure you share your experience, your ideas and your problems with
them. All of you strive to reach the same goal: getting people into
free software. Make sure you work together in an open, transparent and
friendly manner as part of our worldwide community.
9. Want this
Mentoring requires time, effort and endurance. It will cost you some
evening you wanted to go out with your friends, at least an hour every
day and a lot of nerves because you explain things that are obvious to
you over and over again. If you are not sure that you are willing to do
this then it’s probably better you don’t do it.
On the other hand mentoring will give you the satisfaction of being a
positive influence in the life of someone else. You will see a new
contributor grow into our community and you will achieve results
that matter for openSUSE. You will also get the opportunity to learn
something together and sometimes even making a new friend for life!
10. Don’t follow this program, form your own opinion!
This HOWTO is no religion and there are many awesome resources about
mentoring in general and about mentoring for free software development
in particular out there. Don’t trust us, inform yourself and make up
your own opinion! Here are some pointers.