In Debian, the aspiring developer is expected to take initiative into the scene. Having individual attention, just like our teachers show, is a very scarce resource. Be sure to read the Developer's Maintainer Guide on "getting started the right way"!
The social dynamics of Debian is to use IRC and mailing lists (sign up to one, like google debian-mentors) to communicate with developers, and everyone interested in volunteering for the open source community start out as contributors. Once one has shown large contributions to the community in reporting bugs, packaging, writing up documentation, and so on, he or she can apply for membership as a maintainer, and ultimately a developer, the one who has complete upload rights to the universal repository of packages.
Think of packages as your typical shipment. When you order something from, say Amazon, it comes to you wrapped in a package. Inside is the content that you've been waiting for. The same way, in the software community, applications - and developer tools - are wrapped into packages. The developers' job is to package these things and maintaining them as they upgrade or downgrade in versions.
Package sections - main, contrib, nonfreeI bet Amazon has an ultra-huge repository of items and contents in their warehouses. The same virtual warehouse exists in the developer world, what we call the Universe. The universe is the world where packages all sit. During the early days of Linux, there weren't many packages. Now we have over 15000, a large number that requires creating sections. They come in 3 sections: main, contrib, and nonfree.
In the main repository, all packages have dependencies on the essential tools already pre-installed in the system. In the contrib repository, the packages have dependencies on supplemental tools that may not be from the system. In the nonfree repository, the makers obviously have the key to manage the files to be installed themselves, not the community.