If you are a GSOC aspirant and wondering what to do, then you are at the right place. GSOC is something every coder out there dreams of. It’s a great experience that you will carry for the rest of your life. And, it’s something that you can boast about (*wink*). Being a student of GSOC ‘16, I can say that it’s been a great journey. I’ve learnt a lot and there’s no doubt, it’s going to be a noteworthy add to my resume. I’ve been approached by many GSOC aspirants for advice. So, here’s an article to help you get started.
There have been myths about GSOC being a back-breaker. Trust me, it’s not an impossible task but not a cake walk either. All it requires is determination and hard-work. First things first though, don’t panic or get confused by any of the rumours you’ve been listening to in the college or forums. I’ll walk you through a simple procedure that will get the ball rolling. Thank me later!
You may have heard about GSOC from many sources and are still unsure of what GSOC really is, right? Well, don’t be perplexed, it’s simply a platform where you can contribute to open-source projects of various organizations throughout summer and get paid for it.
When do you start?
Drawing on my experience, I would say you can start off 5-6 months before the GSOC program begins. Usually, the program begins in March so, it’s best if you start in October of the previous year. That’ll give you sufficient time to prepare.
Always keep track of two timelines. First, your own timeline and second, the typical GSOC timeline. I’m going to guide you to create your timeline here. You can check out the official timeline of GSOC on their website.
Your Timeline – The mantra
The program is officially announced by Google!
Be aware! You must have a thorough knowledge of what the program is and how it works. Read about it on the main website, go through the blogs of previous students, talk to your GSOC seniors and your professors. Gather all the possible intricate details.
Now that you are aware, select an organization. There are various organizations which come under the umbrella of GSOC to engage students in developing their projects. Go through the previous year organizations on the website and select an organization of your choice.
How to select the right organization?
- Make sure that the organization has been an active member of GSOC for a long time. Do not choose an org which has been unstable, it might not turn up at all sometimes.
- Again, talk to your seniors and professors. They will definitely help you out to make a right choice.
- Choose an org which works on the technologies that you are familiar with. You may not be aware of any sometimes but, given 2-3 months of time you must be able to learn it and implement a project using it.
Now that you have selected the org, learn more about it, get in touch with it using email, IRC or any other source. Learn about their open-source projects and the technologies they use for developing them.
Time to be spent daily: 1 hour
Use this whole month to get a grip on the technologies that are required and start creating simple projects using them.
Time to be spent daily: 1 hour
Continue developing personal projects. Now is the time to start contributing to the org’s projects. This will help you get familiar with their projects and they might notice your potential beforehand.
How do you contribute to the open source projects?
- First, create an account on Github (It is a platform where people share their code)
- Learn how to use Github (basics at least)
- Go to your selected org’s projects on Github and choose the ones that you want to contribute to
- Run those projects on your PC
- Now dig deeper into the projects, solve their issues and propose new ideas to improve them
Time to be spent daily: 2-3 hours
Keep contributing, keep solving issues and don’t lose your touch with the org. Also, continue developing as many projects as you can. The more, the better. But don’t compromise on quality for quantity.
Time to be spent daily: 2-3 hours
This is when the organizations start applying. Many orgs apply each year and either get rejected or accepted. Now is the time to keep a close eye on the timeline of GSOC. At the end of February the results of the orgs will be out. Check if your org has been selected.
By this time your personal projects must be ready to run. Upload them on Github. Increase the time you dedicate for contributing to the projects.
Time to be spent daily: 3-4 hours
Mid- March is when the proposal application period starts. So from the first day itself you must focus on writing a good proposal. You can select five projects and create one proposal for each. This is the most important phase. Your chances of getting into GSOC will be high if your proposal is good.
What does a good proposal have?
- It should have a lot of great ideas to improve the project
- A detailed description of implementation. Use mock-ups, designs etc. to make it appealing
- A detailed timeline on how you are going to divide the work during the program (you must include a weekly timeline starting from Mid-May to Mid-August which is the development period of GSOC)
- Include links to the contributions of Github, personal projects. Provide the other details which the org demands for.
The most important part of a proposal is the timeline and its implementation. Look through sample proposals and create yours using the template that the org provides. Generally, you will need to modify your proposal according to what they need. Some org’s ask for a really detailed plan whereas others ask for a brief one.
Do not forget to keep track of the important dates such as, opening of application period, deadlines etc.
Till the end of March you are pretty much done and it’s time to wait for the results. It generally takes a month for the results, during this period you can relax but, do not lose contact with the org.
Time to be spent daily: 5-6 hours
So, this should be your mantra to crack GSOC. You must be strong and firm and not lose interest. It takes lot of hard-work and dedication to crack GSOC, be it any organization. You must not shy away from working day and night, especially in the last month of the process. Plan out properly and prioritize your tasks.
All the best guys!
- GSOC website : https://www.google-melange.com/archive/gsoc
- GSOC 16 Timeline : https://developers.google.com/open-source/gsoc/timeline
- GSOC 16 Organizations : https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/organizations/
- GSOC 16 Projects : https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/projects/
- Join Github: https://github.com/join
- Learn Github: http://rogerdudler.github.io/git-guide/