How to make your first open-source contribution

Written by Rodney Barnes
October 13, 2020

Contributing to open source projects can be a great way to show off in an interview - it demonstrates initiative, teamwork, and real-world experience. It's also a great place to start if you have no previous employment history in software development.

But making your first contribution can be an intimidating and confusing process; you have to first find an open source project that uses languages you're familiar with, and then you have to scour through its issues to find one that you can actually work on.

Fortunately there's a nice little project you can check out right now: this very website! It's completely open-source, with a handy little readme that has step-by-step instructions on how to clone the repo to your computer, install it, and make your first contribution.

We've got a list of issues that we're actively looking for help on, and if you don't find something there you're interested in, feel free to add an issue requesting a change (or detailing a bug) that you'd like to see implemented or fixed.

We built the website using Gatsby - which itself uses React - because there's significant demand for React developers out there, and the 4th-semester front end web programming course introduces React (though the site should be readable if you're familiar with Javascript, HTML, and CSS). The repo's readme has links to some really great resources on getting started with React and Gatsby, though the short of it is each project's documentation is the best place to start. Both are very beginner-friendly, offering "hello world"-type tutorials, and are the best place to go to if you have any deeper questions about how something works.

As always, if you have any questions send us an email at or hit us up on Twitter. We also have our own little section in the CSAIT Discord server - contact us for an invite link.