Outreachy internship: Getting stuck on a problem

Like I said in my previous post, I was one of the 50 selected candidates for the Outreachy internship program. From December 3rd to March 3rd, I will be working with the Tor Project, helping them support their users. The past three weeks have been nothing short of exciting and overwhelming.

During the contribution period which lasted from October 1st to November 5th, I had tried to know as much about the Tor Project as possible. My job involves helping users on any problems they encounter while using Tor Browser. I’m also tasked with writing pieces of documentation aimed at supporting Tor users. It’s been a great learning opportunity so far. When I started 2 months ago, I knew nothing about Tor Browser and how to troubleshoot problems related to it. I’ve learned a lot, but there’s so much left to learn. It is a bit overwhelming, to be honest.

I do most of my work over email, answering questions that come through the front desk. Some questions are harder than others. Last week, I faced my biggest challenge yet in the form of a difficult question. It involved a failed GPG signature verification. I was stuck with this question for a long time. GPG is a difficult topic, one which I haven’t read about before, so it was such a foreign problem. I searched the web for answers but couldn’t find any I could understand. Over the past week, I’ve been using an hour each day, trying to find an answer. It involved reading a bunch of articles, most of them which were too complicated to understand.

I was hesitant to ask my mentor for help. This is because I like figuring out solutions to my own problems myself. It makes me feel confident about my skills. Maybe I’m just way too proud. Eventually, after struggling with the GPG question for several days, I decided to ask my mentor for help. It went great. He was so helpful and helped me break down the problem, and later figure out a solution. He also provided me with useful links, that will help me in future tasks. Honestly, I wish I had asked for help earlier.  If you’re out there and have a question, please ask. If you think someone can help you, don’t be proud or afraid to ask for help 🙂


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