Making our Fellowship Program Better!

Hi everyone!

Believe it or not, our Fellowship Program started about a year ago. We already have one cohort of fellows who have gone through the program (@mozzy and @gcliff with the support of @k.joseph). And our second cohort is about halfway through their fellowships.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve spoken with some of our fellows and mentors about their experience and what we can do to improve the program. Here are a few suggestions that I heard:

  • We still have some gaps in our stage skill & expectations worksheet to work through, whether around frontend/backend dev skills, additional QA skills, or omrs skills.

  • Have each fellow work on a “capstone” project. This should be a project that can be completed in 4-6 weeks and draws on multiple skill sets that they’ve worked on over the course of their fellowship. Something along the lines of what @mozzy and @gcliff did for their final presentations.

  • Even though fellows may have an area they concentrate on (product management, QA, frontend, FHIR, analytics, etc), there are still some cross-cutting skills that almost everyone thought all fellows should work on. Some of these, like open source leadership, communication, and learning/mentorship, are already captured in our omrs stages.

I expect we’ll keep working through the skill + expectation gaps. What do you think about the latter two suggestions? Can we work these into our current fellowships? Any other ideas for improving the fellowship experience?

Especially keen to hear what @dkayiwa @gcliff @grace @hadijah315 @jwnasambu @kdaud @mozzy @sharif @suruchi think.

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Well! this is so good and I must admit I admire the way you involve stakeholders in decision making besides creating time to find out how each fellow is faring on with the program and how they can be supported to be able to achieve the set goal(s).

This is pretty good because at the end of the day we have to give an accountability of what we have been working on borrowing a leaf from Google Summer Of Code.

I stand to be corrected but I believe this can be made optional to give room to members who feel they need to improve on their dev skills. I for one I believe am just beginning my journey and am trying to maximise the likes of @jecihjoy, @ibacher, @kdaud, @jayasanka. Besides, some fellows have just finished GSoC as mentors, there are those who have lead openmrs projects which have registered a success and its upon an individual to know what they want and go for it.

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Thanks @jennifer for bringing this thread, it is interesting. i strongly agree with this and i think we still need to leverage our stage and skill advancement of a fellow .

Sure this also depends on the project and the tasks they should accomplish in the given period of time. This can be leveraged by establishing the tasks a given project is supposed to accomplish with in the given time . This will allow a fellow to extend skill advancement to any other ongoing project where a fellow wish to master.

Thanks Jennifer, for bringing the topic.

I completely agree, as capstone project gives us goal to achieve and enhances our skills in various fields.

And also I found the idea of improving different skills of all fellows and going everyone together quite interesting.

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Here’s some additional context for this suggestion: I initially heard from fellow mentors that they find themselves working with their fellows on some aspects of these skills as the fellows strive to reach specific dev or pm skills, such as submitting PRs. In some cases, fellows themselves are proposing that they work on these skills, possibly because they see that these are also good skills to have as a community member and to work effectively with a team/squad. As a result, we’re seeing more and more fellows integrating these skills into their fellowship plans. If it ends up in every fellows’ fellowship plan, could that be a sign that these are actually essential skills that fellows should have? Why not make it a part of the fellowship program?

Let’s also keep in mind that the fellowship program is a structured mentorship program, designed to rapidly advance skill development of fellows by a) assigning each fellow a dedicated mentor, b) having them work with a team/squad on a project, and c) requiring each fellow to work on specific skill sets (PM, QA, Dev, etc). This is simply proposing that we add core /omrs/ skills to the technical skill requirements we expect fellows to meet.

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I 100% agree with this. Communication skills are now a baseline expectation in agile development teams. Practical dev skills are obvious, but I’ve noticed that developers who communicate effectively and brainstorm in a friendly, collaborative fashion with dev and non-dev team members tend to be the ones who continue to be promoted and continue growing in their career. They are the ones who can handle bigger things because they become skilled at working in a team.

This is an essential piece of the fellowship, regardless of whether it’s dev, PM, etc.

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I agree!

One of the skill have found so helpful in my current journey is communication. Being able to communicate effectively to my mentor, team/squad members and as well to the community is helping me advance to new levels each day. Though communication skill seems to be outside QA target goals but I was compelled to include it together with other skills on my fellowship plan to enable me acquire those important skills as well before my fellowship journey ends!

Here are three ideas which could be good to think of ;

  • A fellow should have a well written plan that captures Learning goals, Target stage, Skill and Expectation. And should update the plan as he/she goes along during the journey. I personally find it helpful each day to reflect on my fellowship plan to know the ladder I need to climb to reach a certain skill set.

  • Giving feedback to fellows updates they often make on their public thread talk post during the journey. This can be done by the mentor or team/squad member or any community member. I realized most fellows updates are filled up with likes :black_heart: which are certainly good and encouraging but a feedback through a comment or a question can make a difference in opening the fellow’s mind on the project he/she is working on. I have seen @grace doing feedback on fellows updates and this is a good thing that we may need to embrace in the program. I remember one day she opened my minds through her comment on my public update on how far automated tests will go beyond our community to support even the implementers of our products which I had not thought about before!

  • Fellows can use the opportunity of their journey to develop their CV in development. This can be done through compiling all their tasks/activities they have worked on through the fellowship journey on either a google doc or building a simple site that can capture well the tasks/activities and can act as a reference in the future perhaps a good reference for job opportunities and makes a candidate an outstanding one among other candidates. Other fellows can pick a leaf on the one I made at kdaud.com . cc: @sharif @jwnasambu @suruchi @hadijah315

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I agree 100%