Core Values: Outreachy Blog Post #1

One of the neat things about the Outreachy Project is that they encourage the interns to make blog posts about selected topics on a schedule, which of course increases the sense of community!

The first post is an introductory one, which includes an about me, some core values, and motivation for applying–so that’s what you’ll be getting here today!

Who Am I?

My name is Maria Violante. I’m from the USA (southwest Michigan in the house!) and am a career-changer, having a previous background in healthcare (specifically outpatient rehabilitation) and also, briefly, property management.

I’m fairly new to Python and Django, although I’ve got previous experience in making websites (primarily WordPress websites for authors, although I’ve been hacking away at it in some form or another since CSS was new–whatup, 1994–and I distinctly remember writing html in notepad to put on … angelfire? … so that I could have a cool landing page that auto-played a MIDI of “The House of the Rising Sun.”)

I love: puzzle games, reading (especially literary-leaning speculative/SFFH), mysteries in almost any format, craft beer, and I’m a new vegan, which means I’m learning how to cook all over again. (I also have a dog that looks almost exactly like of one of the cute pre-transformation gremlins from the Gremlins movie and a potato had a baby.)

I dislike: really noisy environments with lots of people (which is probably one reason I live in an area that was designated by the USDA as a rural development zone), lax environmental and labor regulations, and corporate invasion of privacy.

Core Values

1.) Open, mutually respectful communication:

I honestly don’t understand why we can’t just treat everybody like a person worthy of respect and have give-and-take in all of our communication endeavors. I firmly believe that no matter what your level of skill or status relative to another human being, there is probably something you could learn from them, so it makes no sense to treat communication with your peers as zero-sum interactions.

2.) Curiosity:

Human beings are hard-wired for curiosity. We find investigation into things we don’t know or understand to be intrinsically pleasing, and when we embrace curiosity as a world-view, we open ourselves up to new aspects of the human experience, including a greater understanding of the world we live in, which is pretty affirming!

3.) Diversity, particularly with an eye toward collaboration:

I also firmly believe that most of our institutions (at least in the US) have retained a level of structural inequality from a history of colonialism, sexism, and otherwise taking advantage of large swathes of the population for primarily financial gain, which has resulted in sectors that are much less diverse than the population as a whole. Although I feel that this is personally morally/ethically wrong, it’s also bad for these industries; collaboration between a diverse group of individuals leads to stronger, more creative problem solving and healthier workplace cultures.

What Motivated You to Apply to Outreachy?

Besides the fact that it’s an amazing organization, with a great mission statement (Increasing diversity in tech! Connecting interns with mentors! Creating stronger open-source communities!), I’m really motivated to grow as a programmer. Although I’ve really enjoyed making my personal projects and solving problems in my own way, I really feel like my next step to becoming a better programmer is working on team projects– which includes hands-on practice with the tools of software collaboration, reading and exchanging tickets and documentation, getting a better grasp on some of the auxiliary tools used in a joint workflow (I have learned a bunch of new ones just today, including kanban boards!) and understanding better the life-cycle of bringing a software project to fruition. (December 1st, 2020, the day Maria learned the acronym MVP for minimum viable product.)

Additionally, I was really excited about this specific project in particular–both because of the organization (internet privacy is one of the battlegrounds that more people need to take a stance on; how’s that saying go? If the app is free, you’re the product?) and the fact that the anonymous ticket project being submitted for the Outreachy internship seemed at just the right level for me–a challenge, but one that is building on the knowledge of I’ve already acquired (she said hopefully!)

Wish me luck! I’ll be posting here from time to time with further Outreachy blog updates!

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