Submitted by erika on
reflection
The application deadline for the Knight-Mozilla Fellowship is this Saturday, August 16 at midnight. You may have already read the info on the website and caught up with what fellows have experienced, what next year's news organizations have planned, how we've set up the program to be welcoming to a variety of life circumstances, and how this fellowship can reshape your career.
 
But you might still be thinking, could that really be me?
 
Yes, yes it could. If you apply. We often get asked "what makes an ideal applicant?" Over the past three years, we've found that what sets a candidate apart is evidence that, as OpenNews Director Dan Sinker puts it, they are a "creative problem solver." This means, you're someone who enjoys solving problems through code--whether that be with a captivating design testing the limits of your JavaScript skills or with writing a python script to parse a giant data set or with programming an arduino to monitor what the hell is happening in the back of your fridge. :o)
 
We look for people who show a curiosity about the world around them--a key trait shared with journalists--and who turn to code to help answer the questions that arise. There is no single path to acquire the skills to be able to solve problems in this way. A few of our fellows studied computer science in college, but most didn't. Some have worked in software development, but some came from universities. Some have worked in journalism before, but most became immersed in journalism through the fellowship.
 
The way we get to know you, future applicant, is through the short application form. We say there are no trick questions and we mean it. This application is a chance to get to know, as much as is possible in a few questions, how you think, how you approach problems, the role you've played on prior projects. I promise, there is no "right" answer to any of these questions, it's whatever reflects you, your work, and your interest in applying your skills to journalism. 
 
If a question has you stumped--email us. We're here to help. For example, not everyone has an active GitHub account. Some people have worked (so far!) on proprietary code they cannot share publicly. We understand this and that's why we have an upload field for you to add a screenshot, wireframe, something to help us understand your project. We don't want any of the questions to get in the way of you applying--the application is just to ease the info transfer of your awesomeness into our review forms. If something's getting in the way of that, just shout. And if you're unsure of your own awesomeness, check out what Noah and Aurelia have to say about that.
 
What should you be considering as you fill out that application? The Fellows shared their thoughts today:
  • "You don't need a computer science background, just an ability to solve problems and find the answers you need to make digital things." - Brian Jacobs, Fellow at ProPublica
  • "We all have some technical background, but you certainly don't need to know everything about everything, no one does." - Ben Chartoff, Fellow at Washington Post
  • "The mandatory thing is curiosity and a passion for learning." - Gabriela Rodriguez, Fellow at La Nacion
You only have a few days left to get any other questions answered and fill in your application. Feel free to email me or stop by office hours tomorrow from 11am-4pm EDT in #opennews on irc.mozilla.org. 
 
So, who should apply? You. You, who loves to solve problems through code. You, who tackles new projects with inventiveness and enthusiasm. You, who has oddball interests you want to share. You, who wants to help change the world. Go ahead, you, apply now.
 
(Photo credit: Flickr user 18_2rosadik36)