Open Source Software Development Experiences on the Students' Resumes: Do They Count? - Insights from the Employers' Perspectives

Ju Long
January 2009
Journal of Information Technology Education;2009, Vol. 8, p229
Academic Journal
Open Source Software (OSS) is a major force in today's Information Technology (IT) landscape. Companies are increasingly using OSS in mission-critical applications. The transparency of the OSS technology itself with openly available source codes makes it ideal for students to participate in the OSS project development. OSS can provide unique opportunities for students to learn and develop their software project development skills. From an educator's perspective, we argue that it is beneficial for the students' career prospects if OSS experiences are included in the students' resumes. This research is to test these hypotheses from the potential employers' perspective. We set out to examine the following research questions: First, do the potential employers value the students' OSS development experience? Second, what are the factors that potential employers look for when assessing students' OSS experience? To answer these questions, we surveyed a large sample of CIO/CTOs, project managers, and developers from various technology companies. Most of our respondents had been involved in the corporate hiring process and most were familiar with OSS. Based on the analysis, we found that OSS related experience could have a positive effect on students' career development. Our respondents rated OSS-related experience as being as valuable as experience gained through proprietary software projects. Crucial factors employers look for include whether the OSS projects are supported or compatible with the hiring companies' practices. In addition, experience focusing on programming and architecting were regarded as valuable. Our research is potentially of value to IT educators when they advise students on career development. It also offers insight to IT practitioners when evaluating student applicants with OSS experience.


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