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How to get into Google Summer of Code (GSoC)

What is Google Summer of Code?

GSoC is an annual Google coding program to encourage student engagement and contribution to open source software development.

Students are assigned open source projects by submitting proposals to the participating open source organizations. If accepted, you will write codes for an open source project under an assigned mentor and Google will PAY each student for completing their project as scheduled and provided no terms and conditions were breached.

Isn’t that fantastic? Getting paid to contribute to open source? Sounds like the dream, right?

Hold on, ‘speedy Gonzales’, although contributing to open source does not necessarily mean writing one million lines of code, GSoC is highly competitive, thousands of other wicked smart (and motivated) students (like you) also saw this opportunity, making it even harder to get in.

What is the Duration of Program?

It usually runs for about 3 months (12 weeks)

How much are students Paid?

The pay ranges from 2400 – 6000 USD depending on where you live and the economic GDP.

GSoC Requirements

You must be :

  • enrolled in a post secondary/high institution as of the GSoC student acceptance date.
  • admitted into a recognized or accredited institution.
  • at least 18 years old at the time of registration.
  • a resident of a country not currently embargoed by the United States.
  • eligible to work your country of residence during duration of program.
  • know at least a relevant programming language and be proficient enough to contribute to open source.
  • understand git and version control.

Benefits of GSoC

  1. You get the opportunity to contribute to a major open source project.
  2. Completing a GSoC Project will get highlighted in your CV in a job interview.
  3. You’ll get paid between $2400 – $6000 depending on where you live. Check out Student Stipends by country

How Does GSoC Work?

Each year open source organisations register in order to attract student talent to work on their open source projects.

Students, can send proposal to five (5) different organisations but will only be accepted into ONE.

When you get in, you will be working for three (3) months on completing that particular project stated in the proposal. Upon completion, Google will pay a nice stipend for your contribution. Yay!

How to Apply and Get In!

  1. Select a programming Language you are comfortable with. It is advantageous to have prior programming experience.
  2. Head over to SummerofCode.withgoogle.com/organizations to find an organization to submit proposals to. You can filter out organisations of your choice either by considering the programming language or you can use the search bar to look for the areas you are interested in.
    search gsoc mentor organanisations
    Search for GSoC mentor Organisations
  3. Carefully read about the project. What technologies are used, the topics. Also don’t forget to click ‘Learn More’ to read extensively about the project.
    GSoC learn-more
    GSoC learn-more
  4. Shortlist five (5) projects from step 3.
  5. Again, carefully and extensively read about what the projects are all about, one after the other!
  6. If any project in step 6, is unclear, do not hesitate to discuss the project details with the mentoring organisation via IRC chat. Having a clear understanding of the project is paramount writing a good proposal.
    gsoc irc chat
    GSoC IRC Chat
  7. Students who contact with their organisation earlier are more likely to have strong proposals and therefore have a higher chance of getting accepted!
  8. Write your proposals in separate Google Documents and let your prospective mentoring organisations review it before (officially) submitting to GSoC. Check out past proposals.  Go over several iterations of your proposals before you submit, there is no need to submit your application too early. Remember, you can submit 5 proposals but can only be accepted into one.
  9. If  accepted you will need to work hard for the next 3 months to actualize what you have proposed. There will be middle and final review.When your mentoring organisation accepts your work, only then will Google reward you. However, if you were not accepted, do not get frustrated, prepare harder and try again next year.Never forget, “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.”
  10. Look over the organisation bug tracker (if they use github check under issues). Killing those bugs and resolving issues will gradually take you ahead. Once your solve one issue move on to more challenging ones.
  11. Get Familiar with version control system and start Contributing to Open Source!
  12. Every organization listed on the organisation tab on the official website has a section in their website to guide new developers, utilize it to get familiar with the organisation
  13. Get PAID ($$$$$).

Characteristics of a Good Proposal

A good proposal is :

  • Thoughful
  • Well documented
  • Easy to read
  • Long enough but not a book – mentors have a lot to read you should grasp them quickly! Add necessary information. Don’t beat around the bush.

You should :

  • send your proposal draft early which gives them time to offer feedback and for you to address the feedback in your next proposal iteration
  • include previous experience and interest that will help support your work on the project
  • set realistic milestone for yourself about what you can accomplish during the 12 weeks
  • communicate early and often – it is the most important part of GSoC. If you’re confused about something, don’t be timid, ask the community
  • Always communicate publicly except for private matters
  • Ask your mentor, Ask the community, Ask other students, Ask google. JUST ASK!

Tips :

  • Apply early, don’t wait until the last minute
  • Draft your timeline to perfectly match that of GSoC
  • You can keep editing your draft proposal until the end
  • Read instructions on your dashboard on the site and submit your final pdf and the required proof of enrollment in your institution

What should a project proposal contain?

according to Samriddhi Sinha a former Student Developer at Google Summer of Code,  a good proposal should contain : 

  • An About Me Section:
    • Name
    • University Details
    • Contact Information
    • Time Zone
    • GitHub or BitBucket ID
    • A Paragraph describing you, your work background, and your past experiences in the field.
  • Abstract
    • This section basically describes the project in about 50 words. Avoid directly copying the description from the organisation’s project description page.
  • Project Proposal
    • Describe how you would go about the project. This will form the core of your project proposal. Ideally should be between 1700 to 2000 words. Describe sequentially what you would do. How you came to know that which decisions are the best for the project. Which packages you will use and why. Split it into sections and points. Make it attractive.
  • Project Timeline
    • This is the second most important section. Describe how you will distribute your work right from the Community Bonding Period right to the Final Submission date. Split it up into smaller time periods and describe what you would do in each periods. You can also split the project up into smaller segment and allot a time frame for each segment. I did the former. I split the time up into two week periods and described what I would do in each those periods.
  • Future Deliverables
    • The organisation would like to have students who would stick around after GSoC and help the organisation grow. They would prefer not to waste slots on folks who would be gone after GSoC ends. This is just a means of making the organisation believe that you would stick around post-GSoC *wink wink* . Tell them what you would do more in the project after GSoC gets over. Try to finish this section in under a 100 words.
  • Concurrent Commitments in Summer
    • What are you doing this Summer other than GSoC? Do you have an intern? Do you have classes? Do you have any commitments? How many hours a day will those commitments take?
      GSoC requires 5–7 hours of work a day just like any other internship. This information is required by the organisation to ensure that you can be fully committed to the project they are wasting a funded slot for.
  • You and The Project
    • Describe how you and the project are a match made in heaven. Why you are a perfect candidate for the project. If you have any prior experience with a similar or related project and how those experience blend in to the framework of this project. Generally people list all the bug fixes they made for the organisation here. Name the issue, attach link to the issue, quote the issue number, describe briefly how you solved the issue and how it impacted the codebase.

–>>Sample Proposal<<–

Congratulations for reading through!

By only reading this guide you’re ahead of the pack.

I wish you good luck in the upcoming Google Summer of Code!

Don’t be stingy share this guide with your friends too!

About Edge Developer

Hello there, my name is Opeyemi Olorunleke. I am a Software Developer (majorly Android, GitHub Profile), Digital Marketer, Udemy Instructor, Technical Writer, Blogger & Webmaster.

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