Why students in college should participate in Google Summer of Code (GSoC)

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Hi everyone,

Today’s post is targeting students in college. The main idea is to sell you the idea of participating in the Google Summer of Code program that Google host every year since 2005. Oh and by the way, this is just free publicity, the program does not provide any money to me in order to get a post out of me! I love the program, after all, I’m an alumni!

What is Google Summer of Code (GSoC)

For starters, as a student, you must ask yourself, why would I want to participate in something I’m not even aware of, right ? Well indeed, that’s a good question. So, in a few words, it is an open source program hosted by Google during the summer break to provide the chance for students to truly experience software development and get a few bucks of out it.

A vast number of open source organizations are providing one (1) to many project ideas that a student could pick up, develop it during the summer and deliver before the end of the program. When you’re assigned to a project, you’re given a mentor who shall be there for you. By being there for you, I mean they will review the code you will deliver through a pull request and answer your questions whenever you have some. Usually, organizations will have a way to communicate instantly with the core maintainer such as a Slack channel.

Finally, it’s a remote position. When you given a project, you’re going to work in your home country and chances are that your mentor is located in an other one. In this day and age, this kind of situation isn’t problematic. I mean, a lot of companies out there have distributed team members where they aren’t even on the same time zone, but they still make it work!

Why participate? Is this a real job experience?

Again, very good questions coming from students! So, no, this isn’t a real job experience. Albeit it isn’t a real job experience, you gain so much from the program that it doesn’t matter. You get the chance to work with something that will either be completely new and thus, gain experience and new skills at the end of the program or, you can pick up a project in a technology stack that you’re accustomed with and simply add an original project to your portfolio.

Oh, and also, you get a referral to apply at Google, if you manage to complete your summer project successfully! It only works once, but you can use that referral up to 3 different positions within the company!

How does one apply to the program?

You don’t have to be in computer science or in software engineering to participate, although, it helps to have experience in software development. You need to demonstrate that you able to complete the project and also, that you’re passionate by software development.

Each organization can have their own personal pipeline to assess the individual skills of the people applying to their summer projects, and that’s necessary due to the sheer number of students applying every year and that number since to grow exponentially every summer! Some organization could ask to interview you online when the competition is fierce for top notch projects, some could ask for a basic code fix in their code, it all depends on the context! It basically comes to select a project and writing a presentation of yourself to showcase

  • Who you are
  • Why you’re interested by the project
  • Why would you be the perfect individual to take on this project
  • A brief summary of your industry experience related to the project
  • What you expect to be able to do in the summer
  • Your summer timeline for the project
  • How much can I expect to make through the summer?

Closing words

So, I hope this little incentive piqued your interest and pushes you to apply this year! By the way, you do not have to take on the most difficult project, take one that resonates with you because that’s where you’ll be able to shine. Oh and before I forget to mention it, students can expect to get up to 5500$ US during their summer!

Learn more on their website.

P.S If you want to learn more about the project I did while I was a student, I welcome you to go on my blog post on the topic and my Github repository where the code is located.

Kevin