The Drupal Association launched a new program this year that aims to provide education and mentoring for underrepresented folks, called Discover Drupal. The program's goal is to prepare the selected student participants for full-time Drupal jobs. Applications were accepted earlier this spring and the first cohort is just now settling into the beginning of their year-long scholarship. Each person in the cohort will be guided through a variety of training and resources to build their skills. DrupalEasy, Evolving Web, and Mediacurrent are providing live Zoom classes through the rest of this year, depending on the pathway the student is following. Drupalize.Me is providing on-demand lessons to supplement the live courses and for further coursework after the live sessions end, while students work on their final projects early next year.
Education plus mentoring
Technical education is only one part of this program; practical application and understanding the larger picture is just as important. Mentors will help students navigate both the good and the bad of the Drupal community, the job market, and the technical aspects of Drupal. There are currently 9 students and 23 mentors (including 2 mentor co-leads who will help with coordination). The mentors represent the diversity of the Drupal community, and a wide array of different areas of expertise, depth of Drupal experience, and backgrounds.
Rather than create a single mentor-to-student relationship, each student will have access to the full pool of mentors. This allows for the creation of mentoring networks and providing space for students to make connections with people from a wide range of experiences, both personal and technical. For more on the value of mentoring networks check out Building Successful Mentorships for People of Color in Tech / DrupalCon North America 2021 by Byron Woodfork. (All the mentors were asked to watch this presentation.)
Both Amber and Joe from our team applied and were accepted as mentors by the organizers. Through the application process and follow up questionnaires, mentors are asked to provide details both about their personal lives and their areas of Drupal expertise. This info will be shared with students in addition to coordinated meetings in order to help kick-start individual relationships.
Mentors are expected to make themselves available during pre-scheduled times each week and take a proactive role in connecting with students. There are no set requirements for how and when people connect outside these scheduled hours, but the assumption (and hope) is that over time students and mentors will form deeper relationships and connect with one another in whatever ways make the most sense for everyone involved.
We're excited to support this program and see how it will grow in the future. Huge thanks to all of the sponsors, partners, and the Drupal Association team pulling this together. It has been a monumental undertaking requiring generosity and commitment from a multitude of individuals and organizations.