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A Different Kind of Drupal Community Contribution: Mentoring

mentoring

The Drupal community has a problem, or perhaps it's better to say a perception problem. We tend to look at contributions to Drupal through code-tainted glasses.

This isn't really all that surprising, seeing how we are an open-source software project. We'd be nothing without the plethora of talented developers who, over the past 12 years, have helped make Drupal one of the top content management systems available today. It's also fair to say that two other types of contributions are well-known: documentation and community organizing. Both play a vital role in the health of our project. Without strong documentation it would be (even more) difficult climb the Drupal learning curve, and without community organizers, I doubt anyone would argue that our growth wouldn't be nearly as fast.

But there is another huge contribution that needs to come into view. It's one that I'd argue is equally as important as code, documentation, and community organization if the project is to grow and develop; and that is mentoring. A lack of guidance among newbies is creating longer paths to proficiency, and we are destined to keep struggling with seasoned-talent shortage if we, at least some of us, don't shift our priorities a bit. We've got plenty of awesome code, but it's no small issue that our supply of developers, at the level we are all looking to hire, is becoming a handicap to the development of Drupal.

We feel it is so key to Drupal's future, that we've made it an integral part of our 10-week Drupal Career Starter Program.

tl;dr version: we're looking for mentors, you should apply.

Can government do for Drupal talent what Drupal has done for government web sites?

Talent/Idea crossword Everyone seems to need more and better Drupal talent. There are too many instances where projects are delayed, or even turned away or lost because we can't find the people with the proficiency to do the work. Even though high demand for Drupal is a relatively good problem, it is still one that begs for a solution. There's a plethora of training programs (including through DrupalEasy) out there for the self-motivated, tech savvy, Drupal-aware. The issue is, even with the mass of training available and promoted through the community, we still can't fill the gap, especially for the community's long term needs. This dilemma exists for the same reason that we face awareness challenges of the Drupal CMS overall; there is no sizable list of behemoth companies with huge marketing budgets or focused, funded, grand scale efforts to raise awareness outside of the community.

Video: What is Drupal? (for people who don't know what a CMS is)

I've been on the road a lot lately, touting the opportunities that Drupal offers to workforce and economic development efforts of regions and states. Thing is, before we can get to all the advantages for regions to develop a Drupal-talented workforce, we have to educate a lot of government leaders, commissions and committees on what Drupal is and does.

WE Drupal Update - DCSP Interns in the Wild!

The beginning of the New Year seems like a good milestone to provide a progress update on the DrupalEasy Career Starter Program Work Experience (WE) Drupal. Eleven DCSP grads are interning with Drupal organizations all over the country, engaging their new-found Drupal knowledge and abilities in a variety of tasks, and gaining critical experience every day. Most of the interns are between one-third and one-half complete with their Work Experience, and reviews are super encouraging.

Some amazing organizations from far and wide stepped up to serve as WE Drupal Hosts, and help the eager 11 jumpstart their careeers, including the Drupal Association, Lullabot, WebEnabled, Radiant Blue Technologies, Cloud Nyne, Urban Rethink, Orange County Library System, Proctors, and DrupalEasy. Overall, the feedback from the hosts has been extremely positive, while the general reaction from the interns has been...overwhelming.

DrupalEasy Sponsors MediaFront Module Code Sprint

The first-ever Brevard County Drupal Code Sprint took place on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at the Cocoa Village Civic Center. A total of 12 sprinters attended in-person, along with 2 virtual attendees who joined in via IRC and a Google+ Hangout. The sprint was in support of the MediaFront module, a front-end media solution that provides HTML5-based media players for supported browsers and falls back to a Flash-based player when necessary. The MediaFront module maintainer, Travis Tidwell (travist), could not have been more accomodating and helpful, as he participated in the sprint for 10 straight hours.

The sprint was a success; we were able to improve the MediaFront’s documentation, fix some bugs, perform some structured testing of the module in various operating systems and browsers, and make some progress on several other issues. DrupalEasy was proud to sponsor the sprint, providing the facilities, drinks, and snacks for the participants.

From Solid Rocket Boosters to Drupal

Doug Hercules with shuttle3.. 2.. 1.. and lift-off of a new career!!! Here I go off to explore a new world that just 6 months ago I’d never even heard of! The strange blue teardrop world of Drupal!

For the past 20 years, I have been blessed to work my dream job as an engineer in the Space Shuttle Program, what a ride! The retirement of the shuttles meant a new direction in my life, and since there’s not a huge demand for rocket scientists these days, it meant seeking some new doors to open up and see what’s out there.

I happened upon a chance to enroll in a 10-week web development course called DrupalEasy Career Starter Program, so I dove right in not having any computer background, but realizing the web is the future! I successfully completed the class and am now starting an internship and an introduction into the community of Drupal. With all the helpful support in Drupal, it’s not a program you learn - it’s a universe of mutual relationships you join... so here’s my first step towards growing in the community.

Introducing the DrupalEasy Career Starter Program Class of 2012!

The DrupalEasy Career Starter Program (DCSP), a one-of-a-kind 10-week, multi-modal Drupal training program is proud to announce the graduation of all 20 of our students from the class of 2012. This is the second year of the DCSP in Brevard County, Florida and we’re excited to watch this year’s graduates become (even more!) active Drupal community members and developers.

DCSP Class of 2012 and instructors

Through a grant from Brevard Workforce, the DCSP’s goal was to retrain 20 unemployed IT professionals and turn them into Drupal professionals. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2011, approximately 8,000 skilled workers lost their jobs at Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County. Our available pool of talented IT professional was HUGE. This year’s DCSP effort received 202 applications for just 20 slots. The vast majority of the students selected had zero Drupal experience coming in. The rest of this post will give you an idea of how much Drupal knowledge and experience they have going out...

DCSP Students Going Big with Drupal Community Contributions

 

We're a little over halfway through the second edition of the DrupalEasy Career Starter Program (DCSP), and in addition to learning the Drupal basics, our twenty students have also been learning how to leverage the various "satellite technologies" in the Drupal universe (Git, IRC, SSH) to interact and contribute to the Drupal community.

In case you're not familiar, the DCSP is a 20-week program that is aimed at jumpstarting our students' Drupal careers with 10 weeks of classroom training followed by a paid internship with an organization that uses Drupal. We call it "multi-modal" training because in addition to the classroom training, students are also assigned a community mentor, participate in mandatory lab hours, contribute back to the Drupal community, topped off with real-world experience in the form of an internship with one of our WE Drupal host organizations.

Book Review: Drush User's Guide

Swiss Army Knife imageIt never fails - regardless of the skill level of the Drupal workshop that I'm teaching on any given day, the topic of Drush always sneaks its way into the conversation. Normally, it's because I have to quickly download a module to demonstrate something that has come up in class. Rather than navigating to the module's project page, I just quickly jump to the command line and do a "drush dl whatever" and hope that no one notices the witchcraft I just invoked - this inevitably results in the nerdiest student in the class perking up and wanting to know what the magic is that they just saw...

Book Review: Drupal 7 Views Cookbook

As the explosive growth of Drupal continues, so does the eco-system of vendors and products around it. Included is the plethora of Drupal books that continues at a somewhat unbelievable pace. It seems that there are at least two to three new releases each month. Unfortunately, in the rush to quench the tech community's thrist for Drupal knowledge, sometimes less-than-stellar books are being served up before they're fully baked (cooking pun #1).

Florida DrupalCamp 2012 Wrapup

Florida DrupalCamp 2012, held on the truly scenic Rollins College campus in Winter Park, Florida was another great gathering of the growing, and ever enthusiastic Florida Drupal Community. Rather than the typical blog post of all the great sessions (of which there were many), or the great networking (which there was), this post will focus on the some of the planning, logistics, and lessons learned from the organizers’ viewpoint.

This was central Florida's fourth annual camp, which has grown sequentially in size and scope, with more than 300 people, 40 volunteers, and 7 tracks of sessions (thanks Don Vandemark). A few highlights included our full-day beginner track, which proved extremely popular (thanks Gaelan Adams) with more than 60 attendees. Building on the experiences we’ve gained from past years, we once again held Coding for a Cause day where we attempted to build three sites for local non-profit organizations. Our partner in the event, the Central Florida Computer Society (CFCS.org) was as always instrumental in our success, acting as our fiscal agent as well as providing numerous volunteers throughout the day.