Advice to potential students from Google's Cat Allman

Advice for Students interested in Google Summer of Code…

This is the time of year when a lot of questions coming to the discuss list are about “How do I get started?”". Here is some step by step advice that should help.

  1. Read the entire site; the whole site and the linked materials. We spend a lot of time making sure all the information you need available there and at the main program site. Remember, a big part of open source is self-reliance. We expect you to look for answers before you come to us for help.
  1. From there go to the main program site: Read the timeline and the instructions. This will tell you when the student application period opens and when it closes so you know how much time you have to prepare.
  1. Now think about you. What computer science subject area or specific issue or problem interests you? What are your skills? What languages do you know? What tools are you familiar with? Make a list.
  1. It’s time to look through the mentoring orgs on the program site, using tags and your list to narrow down what can be an intimidating list. Pick 3-5 orgs to research in depth.
  1. Visit their site and repos. Look at the code. Review the mailing lists and IRC logs to see if you’re comfortable with the style of the communication each community uses. Think about what you see versus what you want to work on.
  1. Narrow your list down to 1 or 2 orgs and get involved with the Org. File a bug. Better yet, file a patch. Orgs want to see that you are genuinely interested in them.
  1. Write your application, one or two at most. This isn’t a lottery. Doing a bunch of weak applications hurts your chances of being accepted.
  1. Make sure your application includes the specific information and format the org asks for as well as what is required by the GSoC app. Double check your work before submitting the application: misspelling in writing has a similar result as does misspelling in code :slight_smile:
  1. Lastly - but importantly - DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO APPLY. Every year we get students asking for extensions to the application deadline. We do not give extensions, even if your internet is down, you were in exams, your computer was stolen, the Internet Cafe was unexpectedly closed, you misunderstood the timezone, you were on a plane, or in the hospital, or a riot or a remote place tagging endangered species*. We can’t give exceptions so please apply at least one day before the deadline, if not more.

Plus, the longer the org has to review your application the better the chances of acceptance for you. I hope this helps! Good luck!


*Actual examples of reasons given.

– Cat Allman Open Source Programs Office Google