Flow of GSoC Selection Process

An article for those who have less or no idea about Google Summer of Code program, and are willing to participate in it.

I will try to keep this article short and straight to the point. First make sure you read the official GSoC student guide.

Step 1. Pick (an) organization(s).

Any organization(s) of your choice.

If you choose an organization that has been participating in the program for years and has a large community, e.g., The Linux Foundation, FOSSASIA, Mozilla and LibreOffice, are some of the names I can think of right now:

  • Pros:
    - one can be assured that the org will most likely participate again next year
    - large orgs have annual conferences, so if one is contributing significantly, they may get a chance to travel overseas
    - an opportunity to create a strong network, the extent of which lies all across the world
    - you may get gifts like goodies and swag— if you’re into such things (I, for one, am not (well, maybe a little..))
  • Cons:
    - one may find more competition in such organizations
    - it means that one might have to start contributing to the organization very early (October-December)

If you choose an organization that has been participating for not-so-many years and it is relatively small, e.g., radare, SynFig and 3DTK:

  • Pros:
    - easier to communicate and get in touch with the org admin
    - easier for one to get involved and start contributing
    - the org members are likely to give you more attention if they know you’re serious about contributing to the org
    - less competition and more amount of workload
    - more workload means greater learning curve
  • Cons:
    - you do not know if the org will participate/will be selected in next year’s program
    - the org will get relatively lower number of slots, so maybe small number of people will get accepted.

If you want, you can work for more than one organization. Some students create a combination of choosing one org that belongs to the former category, the other belonging to the latter. Do this only if you can make enough time out of your day. Burnout risk advisory is implied. It’s not necessary to be a nerd to get into GSoC. I encourage the reader to have fun and maintain a good work-life balance.

Step 2. Introduce yourself and get going.

Now that you know which org you’re going to contribute to, better get in touch with the members. A good practice would be to introduce yourself on the mailing list/common IRC channel. Read their documentation on how to contribute.

“RTFM.”

If you cannot find such docs, ask them in your introductory message itself. Let them know that you want to know how to start contributing and that you’re looking to solve easy bugs/enhancements to submit. You may or may not get a response. If you don’t, ask them again in a few days, in a more kind and formal manner. If you still don’t get a response, I would suggest you to pick another org. However, if you do get a positive response(which is likely the case), start contributing. Keep in touch with the members, and ask for any help if and when you need.

Step 3. Select a project.

Most of the organizations will have a GSoC Project List where they mention their potential projects that are needed to be completed during the next summer. Each project is associated with (a) mentor(s). If you find a project intriguing and do-able, contact the mentor and ask more about the project. Ask your mentor what you need to do to know more about the project, any bug fixes revolving around the project, or anything that you can do before writing proposal.

If your mentor is not responsive, try asking them again politely. If they still do not respond, maybe look for a different project under the same org.

Always communicate with mentor. Good communication with the org will help you in ways you cannot imagine.

You can always come up with your own project idea and discuss with the org members. If someone finds it interesting enough, they might agree to mentor you.

Step 4. Start drafting proposal.

Now that you have selected a project, you need to write in detail how are you planning to accomplish it and work towards it in the following summer. Use your mentor’s help as much as you can to know about the technical aspects of the project.

No idea how to start writing the proposal? A good idea would be to contact previous GSoC-ers of the same org and they will let you know. Otherwise, ask the mentor. I repeat, communicate.

Step 5. Submit your proposal.

Submit your draft proposal and ask your mentor for feedback — basically communicate with your mentor about everything. Make the changes they ask you to. Submit the proposal.

Step 6. A pause…or is it?

There is a month long wait between the time when you submit the proposal and the results are announced. A lot of students stop working after submitting the proposal and they wait for the results. I did make this mistake the first time I applied for the program.
This is the golden opportunity; this is the time when you prove yourself to your mentor so that they know that you’re serious about it and they can consider selecting you. Use this month well. I would recommend to start working for your project during this month itself.

Results are announced

If you do not get selected, try again next time. If you keep working for the org, chances are more that you will be selected this time. This way, you have a head start for the next GSoC. If you’re really sad, this will help you.

If you do get selected, and this article was a reason behind it, make sure to hit the clap 20 times.

Break a leg!

Innovator.