Jeff at Coding Horror recently asked, “Is Open Source Experience Overrated?” I think his question was asked a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it is something I had been pondering lately and was already considering writing about.
Some of the things that I post to this website are things that I learned at work, but most of them are things that I learned outside of work which directly and positively affected my work. In fact, I got one job because I was the only candidate with crossplatform GUI development experience - all of which was from opensource programming. Also, I am looking at potentially getting paid to enhance one of my current open source projects.
If I were interviewing a candidate today I would certainly look more closely at one who listed open source projects on his resume. Is this because I love open source? Open source projects are important to me, and I regularly use them (re: GCC) in my professional work. Open source is not the point, however. The point is for a candidate to show me that he or she is interested in learning and growing outside of work experience. Of the candidates that I have interviewed in my career those who do not play at least some after work, and particularly those who have only ever worked at one company for their entire careers, tend to have a very narrow computing world view.