TL;DR: I love my job and encourage everyone to join an active open source project (or several), if you haven't yet.
Today is my two-year anniversary working for Red Hat on the Fedora Engineering team. ...and I love it just as much as the day I started. So many smart people and ways to have a positive impact on Open Source software, it is extremely exciting to be a part of it.
I started as a volunteer in 2010, at the very end of my 4-year high school career. It was an interesting time for me, as I think it is for most people, because not only are you about to venture out into the real "adult world," but you have no idea if you are going to ever see any of the friends that you ended up making over the last 4 years.
Because of that, it was extremely well timed that I found the Fedora community and was able to become a part of it. It was May 4, 2010 that I sent out my introductory email. Reading it back today, it is interesting to realize how far I have come in 4 years, and how my interests have changed. But the interest of wanting to belong to a community that does really awesome open source work remains, and I don't think that will change any time soon.
Roughly 7 months after joining the infrastructure team and getting to know the rest of the team, I was offered acceptance into the sysadmin-main group - the core group that oversees the infrastructure and helps newcomers to get involved. I very enthusiastically accepted for a few reasons. First off, this meant that the team liked my work so far and thought I was capable of doing good things. Maybe this was already the case, but knowing that the team trusted me this much made me feel like I had proven myself, which is a good feeling. The other thing was that now I would be able to fix many new issues on my own, without having to ask every few days "Hey, can you do [thing] so I can fix [bug], or sponsor me into [group] so I can work on it?"
Joining the sysadmin-main group happened at FUDCon 2011, after smooge talked to the other members of the group and asked their thoughts. I thank him very much for initializing the process and attribute a lot of where I am today to the fact that he was willing to trust me like he did.
At that same FUDCon a few nights later, a small group of us including Ricky Zhou who was interning on the Fedora Engineering team at Red Hat at the time, and spot who was the manager of the team, and I, all went to dinner. As we conversed, we started talking about jobs and eventually I asked spot and Ricky how Ricky's internship came to be. I came to know that Ricky's internship would soon be ending because he would be graduating, so the internship position would likely open up. I talked with spot who said to email him my résumé (which I barely had) and I did so very shortly after I got back home from FUDCon. I also talked with smooge a lot more and Kevin who both worked hard to make everything come together. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
In late 2011, I got a message from spot offering me the internship after Ricky Zhou graduated, and I accepted it immediately and began preparing myself for the large amount of paperwork that would soon follow.
Two years and a slight title change (to "Associate Software Engineer") later, I am still on the Fedora Engineering team, and simply couldn't ask for a better job. The flexibility of the hours around my school schedule; the people I work with; the exciting challenges; and the projects I work on. The whole experience is just amazing.
Thank you to everyone on the team who has given me a chance to prove myself over the past 4 years. Thank you for trusting me, for giving me a place to fit in, and for making the Fedora Community what it is.
The best advice I can give to anyone who reads this is that if you are not part of an active* open source project - what are you waiting for?! I very strongly encourage you to find some project that looks interesting, join their IRC channels, and get involved. Tell the group what you are interested in working on, and ask how you can get started. There is a very good chance that they will be more than open to you helping out with whatever it is you decide to help out with, and the experience that you will get by doing it will be amazing.
* I say "active" because I think that to some extent community is key. Before I joined Fedora, I worked on a number of open source projects by myself, but they never really went anywhere. Having a community to work with can be very motivating and encouraging, and the people that you will meet in that community might be some of the best resources you will ever come across.
Now, time to get back to work and make cool things. :)