How I Got Selected For Google Summer Of Code

5 minute read



Google Summer of Code

This year, I got my proposal selected for Google Summer of Code 2019. (You can find some details about my proposal here). Since I got the news that my proposal has been selected and I shared this info with people, I started getting three questions:

  • What is Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and is it an internship?
  • What do I need to know to get selected for GSoC?
  • Will you help me with my proposal when I apply for the next year?

In this article, I’ll be addressing these questions one by one followed by some stuff to keep in mind when applying for GSoC.

What is Google Summer of Code?

I am really shocked that many students (at least from my university) are unaware of this program. So, here is the gist of GSoC.

Google Summer of Code is a program (exclusively for students) by Google that aims at introducing students to the world of Opensource software and contributing to it. Selected students will work (from home) on their projects for three months (Usually end of May to end of August). Students will be guided by mentors assigned for their projects by the organization they’ve been selected to work for. To motivate students to get the job done, Google provides students with a stipend (amount varies based on the country of the student’s university) that is paid in parts after evaluations that happen at the end of each month.

Also, GSoC is not an internship program. Selected students will take the role of “Student Developer” in their organization and not an “Intern”.

Note: Getting yourself selected for GSoC does not mean you’re an employee of Google.

What do I need to know to get selected for GSoC?

Each organization expects to know and/or have working knowledge in a few areas or concepts. These can be found in the organization’s page here.

There are a few things one can do to increase his chances of getting selected.

  1. Be able to prove you have working knowledge in the necessary areas — This can be achieved by showcasing your work in those areas online, preferably GitHub or GitLab. Some organizations reach out to the applicants with a small test to judge their skills. Make sure you give them the right answers and the reason you came up with those answers.
  2. Propose a solution for a problem that the organization needs to solve — Most organizations have their own list of projects they expect to get done through Google Summer of Code. Choose one of these projects and propose solutions for these. If you are willing to propose something new and that is not among the list of projects provided, then the next point is for you.
  3. Keep your idea realistic — Make sure that you will be able to complete the project you propose and in the given time. Sometimes the project you propose might not fit in the 3 months time. Consider these when you draft your proposal.
  4. Plan your time — Plan the 3 months time you have and attach the timeline you’ve planned in the proposal. Include everything in it. If you have tests that might take up a few days, mention those factors and explain how you plan to compensate that time.

Will you help me with my proposal when I apply for GSoC next year?

The best help in drafting a proposal can the given by the community of the organization you’re applying for. Every organization’s community has an online communication medium. Usually, they are IRC, mailing lists, slack, etc. These communities usually have a channel dedicated for discussions on GSoC. Be active in the channel and find out how they expect your proposal to be. Generally, the mentors selected by the organization will be active in these channels. Identify the potential mentor for your project and interact with them. Discuss your proposal with them as they can provide really useful insights and help you with your proposal. They can also help you understand the problems better. Send them drafts of your proposal and correct it based on the feedback they provide.

A few tips

Once the timeline is release by GSoC, keep reminders for every step in the timeline. Google will send you emails for every step (except everything before student registration) but it is better it keep reminders in your personal devices.

Planning your work for writing the proposal. You can do this in 2 ways:

  1. The Normal way (how I wanted to do things): Plan well ahead and make preparing the proposal a part of your daily agenda
  2. How I ended up doing things: Spend the last 2 weeks completely focusing on GSoC and nothing else. From my experience, I say choose the first way.

What if Gmail is not the email you regularly check? I personally use outlook for all my email purposes. but GSoC requires you to sign up using a Gmail account and all the info is sent to Gmail. You can either check that email regularly or you can set up email forwarding that will forward all emails to an email ID of your choice.

You have more than a month from the day the organizations are announced to the Deadline for proposal submission. Use most of this time to interact with the organization and its community. This will help a lot when drafting the proposal. Using the product of the organization that you plan to work for also helps.