Summary: First Assignment After much deliberation and flip flopping back and forth between various Open Source projects, I decided to join Mifos: Micro Finance Open Source. I was really looking for a project that could give back to the less fortunate because there was something very elegant in using complex technology with contributors from all over the world to simply help the less fortunate. I loved the MIfos vision the best ; especially their slogan of “3 Billion Maries” which puts a face to the cause of helping people who are halfway across the world. Perusing their website sold it for me. I was even more overjoyed when I came across the Volunteers page and saw that there were many volunteer projects that didn’t require a strong background in coding or computer science. Coding has never been my strong point and I have only taken a handful of classes in computer science and would only consider myself barely fluent in Python so the ability to contribute without utilizing code excited me. So I proceeded to join the mailing list and signed up as a user but I wasted no time and tried to sign up and volunteer for my first project. When I was looking through the non-technical projects page, the first thing that caught my eye was the Accounting project. They were focused on building more basic accounting functionalities and needed some consultation on how to integrate these features into the program. For a little more background, while I am majoring in statistics at Berkeley, my primary interest is in business and that was part of the reason why I chose Mifos. I thought this project would be the best way to combine my interests in business and social responsibility. So I contacted one of the members of the Accounting Project’s team: Ryan Whitney through his contact address: email@example.com He asked me about my background and I explained to him that I was currently a student at UC Berkeley with an interest in business and I could send that he was relatively disinterested in my potential to contribute. This is fair because while I have an interest in business, I’ve never had a professional job in accounting. With the new recent international standard changes of GAAP to IFRS, it’s understandable because they didn’t want to take on another “project” while they worked on the Accounting project. The next team I contacted was the Reporting team. They’re working on PPI reports, dashboard improvements and other features to increase ease of installation and Ad-hoc reporting. I emailed John Woodlock at firstname.lastname@example.org and he seemed a lot friendlier and more inviting than Ryan. He even invited me to their weekly Skype meeting at 3:00PM IST (2:30AM PST) and I made my introduction while everyone was very welcoming and forgiving. Overall, I feel like the process was relatively formal but the introduction to the different community teams were more personal. Then again, I cannot exactly speak for joining the Mifos community in general because I would expect the developer community has a different process than the non-technical volunteer community. I felt my experience in joining was very personalized because of the fact that I had to reach out to lead members of the non-technical task team and they helped gauge my skills/interests and helped me find my place accordingly. However, one small drawback is that the community is much smaller than I thought because the teams that I’m working with are less than 6 or 7 people at the moment. Looking back, I definitely would’ve been considerably useless in the accounting team because while I do know the basics of accounting, I am not specialized enough in the field to make worthy contributions. For now I am very satisfied with my place in the Reporting team and I’m excited to see where this will take me next.