ITONBOARD - IT community onboarding for young people

An Erasmus Plus project born out of the Plone community, with the community in mind

ITOnboard at Girls'Day 2022

At the Plone conference in Ferrara 2019, after a talk by Christine Baumgartner and her two interns Ilvy and Nils, a bunch of companies discussed the future of on-boarding of young people into IT. Three companies, Abstract, Interaktiv and Klein & Partner, followed up on the idea and looked for funding to improve IT on-boarding with focus on free and open source software companies.

After further meetings we decided to apply for an Erasmus Plus project of the European Commissison. We expanded the scope from internships only to the whole process of onboarding. With Talentbrücke (Cologne) we found a partner in the field of the transition from school to job; with International Formation Center (Madrid) a company specialized in designing and managing training and development programs.

At the Plone Tagung in Dresden, very shortly before the first COVID19 lockdowns in Europe, we prepared the first application, but it failed. After adjusting our strategy to a broader community, and with remote work in focus, the second application of our project got accepted. In March 2021 we had our kick off!

ITONBOARD's goal is to introduce young students to career paths in open source web development. With that goal in mind we are developing five distinct products to guide students from a gamified experience to first-hand experience in schools; from e-learning opportunities to internship options. Our target groups are students, teachers and IT companies. The project is still ongoing. Some of our five outcomes are almost finished, others are still in development:

  1. an Escape Game for vocational orientation for students from 12 to 16 years old. Within the game, typical job situations and knowledge about IT professions can be experienced and acquired. Professions in web development as well as the concept of open source are presented to the players.
  2. a guide for teachers with a detailed concept for a project week at schools on the topic of IT career orientation. The central and associated learning content and materials were designed during the course of the project so far.
  3. online courses (MOOCs), which can be used as an alternative method of vocational orientation. The approach within e-learning formats is completely different from the classic and more theoretical information materials (flyers, texts, etc.).
  4. recommendations and guidelines for blended remote internships with short on-site phases in companies whose focus is on community-based, open source culture. Remote work and learning have had deep roots in the IT industry, and especially in the open source area, for decades.
  5. an internship exchange facilitating the arrangement of internships between interns and companies. For example, without the Plone Community the ITONBOARD project would never have happened. In the beginning the community was the initial backbone to discuss ideas.

We got in contact with other companies and collected their needs and experiences with interns, got lots of implicit information, personal feelings, and learned about failures and problems. In the Plone community we know each other and have many experts in different fields. Thus, many community members were keen to help with interviews, participating at workshops or reviewing material. Thanks to everyone donating their valuable time!

From the broader Plone community we interviewed Alexander Pilz (Syslab), Timo Stollenwerk (Kitconcept), Nejc Zupan (Niteo Web and project advisory board), Paul Roland (former president of the Plone Foundation and project advisory board) and Chrissy Wainwright (Sixfeetup and former president of the Plone Foundation) about their experience with internships and remote work. Furthermore we got valuable scientific insight into the field by our project advisory board member Univ.-Prof. Dr. Bernd Gössling (Uni Innsbruck). This gave us plenty of input for the blended remote internship guidelines and beyond!

From the community Katja Süss (Rohberg), Paul Roeland and Fred van Dijk (Zest Software) joined us at our multiplier event at the Schatzbergalm and provided valuable, decades long experience in remote work, teaching, diversity in IT and in general, and communities.

Additionally, Paul and Fred gave us a short interview. We also got support from other FOSS communities, here with a special mention of the OpenEDX community! And thanks to everyone we forgot to mention here, helping us with the project by sharing minds!

The project will continue for almost another year. We appreciate any feedback! If you want to learn more about

ITONBOARD visit our website

, send us an


or talk to Stefania, Christine, Jörg or Jens.