Career Days: Community Manager Wrap-up

On Saturday, February 25 at 17:00 UTC we welcomed Amber Graner (akgraner) to give us a review of her career leading up to her current position as a Community Manager and to offer details about being a non-developer who works in open source.

MA-48L analogue computer, pt. 5

Current Career

  • Works at Linaro
    • Specialist basically means that what she focuses on or specializes in particular area or topic, in this case it’s various aspects of community and its growth and management.
    • “Does that mean I claim to know all there is to know about community? Nope. Does anyone? Nope. However, I learn something new everyday and I try to share that knowledge daily.”
  • Also works as a freelance writer and journalist who contributes to Ubuntu User Magazine and other Linux New Media publications as well as one of the current co-authors of the Offical Ubuntu Book (Pearson). Currently under revision for Edition 7 set to hit shelves after the 12.04 release.
  • Not a developer
    • She is often asked: “Well then how did you get a job in FOSS?”
    • Her reply: “Just because I don’t write code doesn’t mean that I am not technical. Nor does it mean I am not capable of understand or learning the concepts and processes behind FOSS nor does it mean I can’t get involved and make a difference.”
    • The same holds true for anyone who wants to be involved in an open source project or find a job in open source.

Career Path

  • There were many volunteer opportunities where she grew up in a rural town in Western North Carolina.
    • Whether it was raising money to buy the next fire truck, pitching in to help out a neighbor, playing a team sport, or being on the student council–the opportunities for learning about being a volunteer abounded.
    • Being part of a community shaped who she was a very young age.
  • Interest in computers was shaped in the mid to late 80’s
  • First computer, a TI-99, in 8th grade (about the age of 13), the school was given a TRS-80 model III, and as luck would have it her Uncle who was a local Dr. also got one for his office. If she wasn’t on the computer at school, she was on the one her Uncle had in his office.
  • Upon graduation high school she went to one year of college and then joined the Army to become an Intelligence Analyst (96B), was stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and had the opportunity to work on conflicts such as Panama, Liberia, Haiti and she also deployed to the First Gulf War.
  • Got to test all the latest automation that was being developed for the intelligence agencies (from ’89-’93). Not only that, she helped test J-Stars as well, as it replaced the older SLAR technology during the First Gulf War. (Note her efforts in testing (J-STARS/SLAR) technology in deep attack missions during the first Gulf War she was awarded a Bronze Star) It was also in the Army where she was first introduced to Unix then Linux via slackware through some testing that the 82nd Airborne Division was experimenting with.
  • In later roles she helped test other systems, trained people at the companies she worked for on the latest desktop technologies, and even helped with a few manual conversions over the years.
  • At UDS-P (Ubuntu Developer Summit to plan the Precise Pangolin 12.04 release) she had the opportunity to interview with Linaro and from there started with them later that month

Getting involved with FOSS

  • In spite of all this experience with technology, somewhere a long the way, she got the (wrong!) impression that she wasn’t technical enough to work in FOSS
  • Began using Ubuntu in 2009
    • Started blogging about that experience and joined the Ubuntu Women Project
    • Rikki Endsley of Linux Pro Magazine, happened to see her blog, and started following her. Then one day they asked her to write for them.
    • Was asked to review Jono Bacon’s Art of Community and the Official Ubuntu Book
  • Experience with Ubuntu Women
    • Upon joining, asked “Do I have to become a MOTU to contribute?” (MOTU: Masters of the Universe, “keep the Universe and Multiverse components of Ubuntu in shape. They are community members who spend their time adding, maintaining, and supporting as much as possible the software found in Universe.”)
      • absolutely NOT
    • Ubuntu Women Project member and author of several Drupal books, Emma Jane Hogbin told her once, “Don’t think everyone who joins an open source project has to become a developer. Use the skills you have, learn the ones you want, and just be yourself.” AWESOME advice.
    • Other members were kind enough to point her to the documentation and encouraged her to figure some things out on her own. “While it wasn’t always easy it’s paid off.”

Advice for getting involved and working with FOSS

  • If you have something to offer a project chances are you have something to offer a company and its community.
  • Don’t discount any of your experience – regardless of whether you got a paycheck to do it or you volunteered. Work is work regardless of if you can deposit money for having done the work.
  • When applying to work in FOSS INCLUDE all the skills you’ve learned, regardless of where or how you learned them.
  • When writing a Resume/CV, have it reviewed by people you trust, limit it to one page and create a webpage for all the other details. Organize it in logically categories and include a link on the CV or resume.
  • If you are writing a blog, do the best job you can and let your personality shine through. Don’t be afraid to promote your blog, and let others know what you are interested in.
  • Find a mentor. Find someone who does what you want to do. Find out how they got there, how they do what they do, then set a course for self-improvement.
  • Learn by doing, don’t ask people to give you answers all the time – it will pay off for you.

Full logs are available on our wiki:

If you’re interested in getting involved, please see the Ubuntu Women Career Days wiki page or email Cheri Francis or myself (

These sessions are open to the whole community, you don’t need to be a woman to attend or participate.

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