The Outreachy application process is a lot different from a normal job application process. There’s no formal interview and no white-boarding. You need to fill out the eligibility application, complete some project related tasks, and then fill out your final application. The project related tasks can be time consuming, so I would encourage anyone that’s interested in an Outreachy project to try to get an early start!
The project related tasks that you need to complete for your application depend on the specific project that you’re applying to. I applied to Linux kernel projects, so my application required a number of small, cleanup patches for Linux device drivers. The cleanup patches are fairly simple and typically don’t require much knowledge about the driver code; they consist of things like fixing typos, adding and removing whitespace, and just generally fixing the code to comply with the kernel coding standard. The patches are a little boring, but you’ll learn a ton about the Linux kernel patch submission process. The cool thing about this cleanup patch requirement is that, if you choose to work on a bunch of different drivers, you’ll get to see a lot of different things and get feedback from a multiple driver maintainers.
I was really intimidated by the patch submission process at first. The kernelnewbies tutorial has a lot of information, which is very helpful but can also be overwhelming. Once you’ve submitted a patch or two, you’ll find that it’s actually a fairly simple process. So, if you’re really interested in getting involved with the Linux kernel but feeling overwhelmed by everything, just take your time, read through the tutorial, and start working on a patch. You might not understand everything in the tutorial the first time you read it, which is normal. Just review the tutorial occasionally as you prepare a few patches.
The best thing about the Outreachy application process for the Linux kernel is that there is a small group of experienced people that closely watch the Outreachy kernel mailing list and are happy to help out. If you’re considering applying for an Outreachy internship with the Linux kernel, I’d highly encourage you to read through the tutorial and submit a patch!