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You are a design student with plenty of ideas, master most design software and already worked on some pretty cool projects you are proud of. Unfortunately, none of these projects was released in “real life”, consequently potential clients don’t look at it as serious work. This is a common and frustrating problem many design students are facing: having some real-life projects in your portfolio helps you get freelance work, you just have to get the loop started.

So what can you do about it?

Since you get more time on your hands, a good idea would be to contribute to open-source development by scouring the “Help Wanted” section on SourceForge. SourceForge is a platform to help OpenSource projects by hosting them and providing all kind of tools.

Of course, you will not make money directly from it, but you will get to create a real-world project, network with people who have an entrepreneurial spirit, get links from the project’s page and contribute to the OpenSource movement. You are probably using one or more OpenSource software, so this would also be an useful way to contribute back to the community. Moreover, if the project becomes popular, you’ll get quite a lot of exposure from it.

Did you ever contribute to such a project? What were the consequences?