Every open source project has work that needs to be done, and Perl is no exception. There are people currently doing work (the perl5-porters, for example) but in most open source projects (and Perl in particular) this group is not a closed clique. Our doors are wide open--we want and need new people, because of the regular attrition that takes place as the current hackers get bored, get old, or get lives.
If you can do the work, you're welcomed with open arms. It's entirely possible to become The Expert in some area of the internals (just ask Simon about Unicode, or Artur about Threading). Or to write a module that tops all other modules in the field (just ask Matt about XML, or Andy about templating). Or to fill any other need the community has (just ask Casey about the beginners list or Robert about tinderbox and rt).
I'm amazed every time I re-realize that it's possible to go from unknown to guru in a very short period of time. And that the road from anonymity to gurudom is never closed. We're minting new gurus all the time, and there are always more things to do and so more gurus to be minted.
Right now, for instance, Parrot is wide open. We've got a couple of new coders who are blazing trails, but there's so much yet to be done that someone with clue could step up, do the work, and become a household name (well, my household at least
Parrot's not the only place with opportunities for people to make a name for themselves. There are all sorts of projects that people have wanted from Perl 5 that still need implementing: relocatable installs, modules in zipfiles, pure-Perl zip/gzip modules for the core,
But I'll bet that most of the new stars won't make their name doing anything on my list. They'll see an itch that you and I can't see. They'll see a new way of doing things (installing CPAN modules, defining objects, sharing data structures between processes