Announcing the InterMine 2020 Interns 🚀

Announcing the InterMine 2020 Interns! 🚀

As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, this year InterMine is participating in Outreachy for our May-August (northern hemisphere summer) internships. This year we’ll have five Outreachy interns, as well as a couple of in-house interns working with us. Please give them all a huge round of congratulations! 

Our interns and their projects 👩‍💻👨‍💻

InterMine training portal – Qian

Qian will be working on the InterMine training resources, creating new programmer and UI-oriented tutorials and updating/organising existing tutorials. 

Qian will be mentored by Yo and Asher. 

CLI tool for managing InterMine instances – Pooja Gaur

Contributing to the InterMine cloud project, Pooja will be orchestrating better automated builds for InterMines that will also work nicely in Travis or other CI. 

Pooja will be mentored by Kevin and Ank.

Improving the UX and UI of BlueGenes – Roshni Prajapati

BlueGenes, the new InterMine UI has improved drastically since Kevin joined the team and began adding and improving features. Roshni will conduct research into the usability and UX of BlueGenes, and redesign / improve interfaces where needs are identified. 

Roshni will be mentored by Yo and Kevin. 

Improving the InterMine Data Browser – John Mendez

The InterMine Data Browser was a 2018 GSoC project led by Adrián, designed to make it easier for people new to Intermine to learn and explore what types of data are present in an InterMine. John will be helping update the Data Browser with new features and migrate it to React. 

John will be mentored by Adrián, Nikhil, and Aman. 

Javascript Data Visualisations – Sakshi Srivastava

Last year, Akshat Bhargava created a suite of data visualisation tools for BlueGenes. Sakshi will be extending this work, refining some of the Tool API specifications and adding new data visualisations. 

Sakshi will be mentored by Akshat,  Kevin, and Asher. 

With thanks to our sponsors

We’re grateful to the Wellcome Trust for awarding a Diversity Enrichment grant that enabled us to sponsor three Outreachy interns, as well as Outreachy themselves who were able to sponsor another two internship positions.  

In-house interns  

We’ll also be working with Ank Kumar (working on InterMine Cloud related projects) and Celia Sanchez Laorden (InterMineR). 

What about GSoC? 

In previous years we also participated in Google Summer of Code – this year InterMine wasn’t accepted as a mentoring organisation. It is common for GSoC to “rest” applicants occasionally, so we’ll continue to apply and hopefully we will be back in GSoC next year.

Once we knew we weren’t accepted into GSoC for 2020 we joined the Open Bioinformatics Foundation GSoC org, who act as an umbrella organisation for GSoC mentoring organisations, and we had several strong applicants apply via the OBF’s organisation. Unfortunately the number of slots awarded to the OBF was lower than the number of promising students the OBF was ready to accept. This meant that InterMine was unable to take on any GSoC students, even though there were high-quality applications.

InterMine internships plans for 2020: GSoC, Outreachy, other?

TL;DR: InterMine has been participating in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) for three fantastic years now, and we’re hoping to participate in a fourth, with a few improvements. We’ll be applying for GSoC again, but probably taking on fewer students than previous years if we are accepted as an org. This is because we also plan to participate in Outreachy, another mentoring program that runs on the same timeline. We’ll probably take on around six interns in total between both programs. 

What is Outreachy? Why the change? 

In short, it’s a chance to include a more diverse pool of InterMine interns.

It’s no secret that there’s poor diversity in tech generally and particularly in open source: open source software developers self-report to be over 90% male and 15% or less self-report as BME (https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/qps53). Similar problems are present for staff and students in higher education, both in gender balance and ethnic balance (https://www.ecu.ac.uk/about-us/he-equality-challenges).

It’s not surprising, then, that while we are pleased to have welcomed interns from India, USA, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Greece, Spain, and Canada in our last three years of GSoC, only two of our seventeen interns were female.

Outreachy is a program similar to Google Summer of Code, but with a focus on getting more underrepresented folks into tech. The timeline is broadly the same, and our commitment to supporting internships has not changed, so we hope this will help us include interns from a broader range of backgrounds.

Looking to help out? One of the biggest ways you can help us is by spreading the word – share this blog post with anyone you know who is interested in tech and comes from an under-represented community, and/or is looking for experience in tech projects that don’t fall under the umbrella of “code” projects (see the note about Outreachy-only internship topics in the next section). 

Potential student/intern Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Should I choose Outreachy or GSoC? 

If you were already considering participating in GSoC, we’d suggest staying with GSoC. You can read about eligibility for Outreachy in the Outreachy application guide, too. Outreachy interns don’t have to be students, and could instead be recent graduates, parents returning to work after a break, people who know how to code looking for early experience, or perhaps something else. Another difference is that Outreachy allows tech-related projects that aren’t code – e.g. design, user experience, documentation, or accessibility. Ultimately, your choice should depend on which of the two programs you’re eligible for and which projects you’re interested in, since some projects will be Outreachy-only. 

Q: I’m keen to get started! What do I do?

🎉 Amazing! Take a look at the InterMine GSoC site (we’ll update it to cover Outreachy soon) and InterMine contributing guide and spend a little while learning about InterMine. You can pick up an issue or two if you’d like, but it’s not mandatory for GSoC students. (Outreachy interns need to make at least one small contribution during the contribution period).

It’s also a nice idea to read some successful project proposals from previous years, like this one from Nupur Gunwant

Q: Do I need to get started right away?

A: It’s great to see your enthusiasm! We won’t know for sure until February 20th 2020 whether or not we’re accepted to GSoC as a mentor organisation, and Outreachy applications won’t open until late January. Feel free to sit back with a nice drink and relax until then – seriously! Our project idea list isn’t out yet, and we don’t grade project proposals based on the number of contributions.

Read through our criteria for proposal grading here: intermine.org/gsoc/guidance/grading-criteria-2019/#experience – some evidence of coding is necessary, and you’ll need to understand InterMine well enough to write a sensible project proposal, but beyond that, we don’t want you to work to exhaustion! Well-rested and happy is much more fun 😉

One thing that is really helpful is if you like to hang out in chat (chat.intermine.org) – you can welcome newbies into the #gsoc channel, and answer some of their basic questions. Teamworking and community skills are highly valuable!