Continuing conversations about fellowships/Internships in open Source Design

Hey folks,

Following on from our conversations about Let's spend some money! 🤑️ we ran a Poll from July 2021 to September 9th 2021 and the results were captured here: **POLL CLOSED 9th of September 2021** - How to spend OSD's money! - #3 by Erioldoesdesign

Again to recap we had 35 responses and the leading choice to 'spend our time, attention and money as a community was: ‘Open Source Design internship program. Collaborate with Outreachy or a similar OSS internship program to fund an ‘OSS Design’ specific program’ with 18 votes.

What I’d like this forum post to do is capture thoughts about what an Open Source Design internship program could look like so here are a few guiding questions if you want to use them.

  1. What would you want to get out of an Open Source Design internship/fellow program?

  2. What would you be willing to give to a Open Source Design internship/fellow program? (e.g. X hours per month, mentoring, office space, review applications, review OSS projects, plan the design work for the intern/fellow etc.)

  3. How would you like the program to gather OSS projects that could benefit from the fellowship/internship?

  4. Is there a kind of Open Source Design we want to prioritise?

  5. Should we spend some of our Open Collective funds on this and if yes, how much?

  6. How long should a Open Source Design internship/fellow program last?

  7. Could the Open Source Design internship/fellow program include participating in OSD’s community as part of the project? e.g. a FOSDEM talk, articles for the OSD website? and what is appropriate to ask?

There’s lots more we can discuss but hopefully, these start the conversation :smiley:

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Hi @Erioldoesdesign I’m Otoki a UI designer and I’m very new to OpenSource.

As a beginner, what I would like to get out of an open source internship is to be well equipped to be able to contribute to projects, be grounded on the technical aspect of git & GitHub.

I also think we could reach out to big companies in the tech community to get involve in the internship program, showing them the reason why they should invest in design and OpenSource Design as the bigger picture.

Lastly, (I apologize for suggesting a lot…lol) I think the internship should last for 2-3 months.

That’s all for now


@Otoki 's thoughts are fantastic and thank you for sharing them :smiley:

Considering we just got another bigger donation from Discourse I’m bumping this thread again to gather thoughts on the Design fellowship/Internship idea for Open Source Design.

Perhaps set some achievable team goals with this like:

  • List out potential OSS orgs/project we think would make good candidates for a design intern

  • What ways can we address Ade-Otoki’s comment around ‘be well equipped to be able to contribute to projects, be grounded on the technical aspect of git & GitHub.’

As mentioned in the community call:

A big problem is getting a design implemented. Developers in open source projects pick according to what they want to work on (or what their bosses want them to work on) and these are rarely user facing improvements.

One thing we could do to support a designer and a developer as a team working on a small project. I see several interesting advantages here:

  • The improvements will actually be part of the software instead of likely staying in plans and mockups.
  • Which is also something directly helpful to open source projects increasing motivation for mentoring both designer and dev.
  • Have both participants learn to work with a designer/dev, respectively.
  • Working closely together also decreases incentives for big-plan-upfront design (or coding!) making it an interesting case for close collaboration
  • Could yield some great reflections and experiences that help us in future projects.

Now, two people is twice the money needed. But…

  • I think it would be relatively easy to get the dev funded by someone other org.
  • The gain gets more graspable for tech orgs who can fund. If we have the collaboration build in we can sell it not as design being produced but as bringing well desiged features to a software project.
  • Just like we are, funding orgs will likely to be interested in the collab aspect more than in the mere design aspect.

Maybe kaleidos would be interested in this model – dev/design collab is a large thing for them and we might get penpot improved for us all. Wins everywhere!


A question we would need to solve:

  • Applying in groups vs. later matching:
    • If people apply directly in groups there is a higher chance that they can work together already and get along.
    • If people apply alone and are matched later we do not know how well they work together. On the other hand, most work will happen online and both dev and designer need to work with people from the open source project they do not know before, anyway.

We could also combine both: Present project partners, have a matching phase where people can form groups and then have an applications phase where groups apply.

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We would be very interested in this, yes. Looking at our current workload and priorities, I’d say we will be ready for a serious conversation around this by mid April.


Awesome! Lets exchange ideas mid April-ish then!

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Would you mind if I looped Sage from Outreachy back into this conversation? I don’t think they are on this forum so it’d probably be email/twitter DM but i’d love to see what they think of our proposal re. designer + developer team

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looped Sage from Outreachy back into this conversation

That would be great! I am curious what they think.

I invited Sage to May’s community call to chat about this and we discussed finding a good time for the folks at Simply Secure that want to be involved

We have a few actions from April’s community call though:

  • @Erioldoesdesign Draft a form for FLOSS projects to tell us what they might ask a designer (+Developer) for during an internship period.

    • Be sure to ask about roughly what tasks they want done
    • Be sure to ask what time frame they’d want the fellow/intern for
    • Not too long a form!
    • On OSD’s Nextcloud
  • Consider a survey also for designers about how/what they want from an internship/fellowship in FLOSS

  • @Erioldoesdesign Invite Sage to May’s call ← Done!

  • @Erioldoesdesign Find a time that works between interested folks from Simply Secure & @jdittrich and other fellow/intern interested folks

  • @Erioldoesdesign and @ei8fdb and @SaptakS to find time to do a ‘hack day’ with a spreadsheet and go through all known internship/fellowship FLOSS programs and make a ‘matrix’ of what happens in these typically and what we think we want to leverage.

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maybe also what they could do for the intern (so it’s not a one-way-transaction)

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I’m currently a mentor for a design internship for an OSS. I can speak on my experience, if that helps OSD form their own design internship.

The internship is focused on making Real Time Collaboration (RTC) tools more accessible. The long-term goal is to take these findings and make JupyterLab’s RTC more accessible.

The internship work itself is more about user research than visuals. Focused on gathering the pain points of current RTC disabled user experience. Our intern conducted interviews and audits with volunteers. The volunteers were a mix of OSS developers and from the disabled community.

The end-result will be a written document with these findings. With the 3 month span of the internship, there’s isn’t time to implement these findings. However, we want to spread these findings and help OSS developers make more accessible OSS. One possibility is that these findings be implemented and work in tandem with JupyterLab accessibility grant.


  • 1 hour meeting once a week
  • 3 months long
  • 2 co-mentors and 1 mentee
  • Remote
  • Compensation: $1000 USD/month (for full-time at 40 hrs/wk) - our intern is a student and part-time

How the internship was set-up:

  • Quansight (my employer) has an internship program, and each internship is with an Python OSS project (such as NumPy, conda, etc).
  • There’s been more focus recently in having non-code internships! In the application, it states “We are also actively working on the technical writing design, and accessibility spaces and welcome applications from folks interested in these areas.”
  • In this case, we have a company as a middleman between the projects and interns.
  • There is an Internship Coordinator who reviewed and interviewed applicants before matching with an existing internship opportunity.
  • Unusually, in this case, a UX/UI student approached the company about doing an internship. At the time, we didn’t have a design internship available. But our Internship Coordinator asked a designer at Quansight and we made one, based on JupyterLab’s accessibility aims.
  • So a design internship was created by an intern asking for one, but there was a larger framework to move that forward (company internship program). I don’t think the internship may been created with a less direct request or existing internship framework, such as a forum post in an OSS project.

I could speak more about this in the next OSD monthly call, if anyone’s interested. I was at this month’s call and saw the recent agenda on internships, which led me here. :slight_smile:


I am interested in following this conversation.

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I just had a rush reading through this thread… Just thinking out loud, What would it take to have a “Google Summer of Design”?

Here’s what I’m thinking. We hold a BootCamp - using the word BootCamp for lack of better words, where interested designers are shown the way around GitHub by fellow designers . Could be held monthly, perhaps. Could be in batches of 10 designers. Designers who complete the brief exploration course could be instructors for the next iteration. That way our reach broadens. Do we have a discord group or slack?

During such meetings, Open Source Project maintainers could be invited to give a walkthrough of their projects where help could be offered. In that time, Open Source design would have put together a form of contribution heuristics for opensource projects, could even help such projects establish a pipeline to encourage designers to come onboard.

Hello Joshua. Great idea, we have some of these plans written down and are working towards actualization. If you don’t mind we can have a call and discuss some of your ideas and how they align with ours. We can begin working on programs like this for open source designers

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That’s a super idea. Let’s do it.

Hi Mars,

im very interested to contribute in this internship, how can i apply for it ?


I don’t know if we ever followed up about hearing about this in a community call or maybe it was one I missed?