You don’t need to be a nerd with glasses and kickass coding skills spending 18 hours daily on your GHz machine to do GSOC. Only spirit to contribute, strong will, determination and interest in coding is needed.
The time of year comes again, when every college coder wants to be part of Google Summer of Code. I did my GSOC last year (2013), it was a great experience with lots of cash and a t shirt which is double my size (Such mistakes happen when you forget that XL in USA is not XL in India ). If you have the coding bug in you then GSOC should be in your bucket list.
Random strangers have been buzzing me on Facebook seeking help, poor souls, they have no idea that I’m not right the guy to ask for advice. Still, I thought why not write a blog post, after all, it’s better than those storm of same questions in Facebook chat.
Why should you do GSOC?
You already know about the goodies, cash and a certificate from Google. Apart from this, it’s a great experience to be mentored by people who are working on something real, something which is really bringing a change and best part is you get a chance to contribute to it. Imagine coordinating with someone who is usually in a different timezone and then dedicating nearly three months of your time to one real project, it does not happens everyday to college students. So I advice, look at this opportunity beyond the cash, goodies and certificate.
What should you do right now?
I am assuming you have looked through every nook and corner of this website. Nearly three days are left when the final organization list will be announced. Till then google up “GSOC 2014″. From the third result on google search, you will start seeing links named “Idea Page”/”Idea List”/”Ideas” of different organizations. Go through them. Go through the mailing archives of previous year of different organizations. Get a fair idea how to properly introduce yourself and your proposal. Also learn how to push and pull code from git repositories and introduce yourself to other git tools.
Once when the organization list is out, shortlist at least 5 which you would love working for. Join their mailing lists. Introduce yourselves and your relevant skills. Also when you contact someone about a particular project, I strongly suggest send in a link to some relevant work you have previously done. If you don’t have any, write some piece of code for the project, it won’t take more than a day or two. After all, actions are stronger than words. Ask for their feedback, improve it and send in again. Prove to the mentors that you are the best one for this project. Also, be very responsive, whenever you get a reply, try replying asap. Don’t waste time. In case the organization has a very big code-base, like Wikimedia, WordPress, phpmyadmin, they will ask you to solve bugs or to push in patches. DO IT. Find a bug which matches your skills and solve it. Don’t wait or don’t get confused whether to do it or not, because thousands of others are already doing it, while you wait in confusion. It’s a race, it’s a competition, and the best will get selected.
Gear up, put your nerdy geeky brain to best use, and go for it.
Some additional irrelevant tips:
1. GSOC is serious shit. To get selected you have to dedicate your time. Simply mailing and replying won’t get you in. They want you to be serious about it.
2. Don’t mix any intern with GSOC. You may be able to complete GSOC but you won’t be able to learn, you won’t develop as a coder, and believe me 5k$ for a coder is actually not a lot of money, the experience you get is priceless. So don’t work only for cash.
3. Write good mails. Don’t commit grammatical mistakes or typos. Doesn’t looks good. Even mine is bad, you must have noticed it in this post (corrections are welcome in comments section :p ), I usually take help from my friends.
4. Don’t ask stupid trivial questions. Google up well before asking. Such questions puts your seriousness in question. Don’t let that happen.
Getting selected for GSOC is not very difficult, but not easy too. So best of luck, hope this post helped you. Any questions you have, fill the comments section with them.