FOSDEM: an explosion of Google Summer of Code support

Monday, March 3, 2014

Earlier this month, as part of the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 10th year celebration, three of us from the Google Open Source Programs Office (Cat Allman, Jeremy Allison and Stephanie Taylor) traveled to Brussels, Belgium to attend the FOSDEM open source conference. We joined over 5,000 other FOSS enthusiasts to talk about GSoC and highlight the work of some of our students and mentors. 

We were honored to have a table dedicated to all things Google Summer of Code this year.  Twelve past students and mentors from 10 projects were kind enough to join us and talk to attendees about their organizations and projects. We even had a robot walking along the conference floor thanks to our friends at The Italian Mars Society!

During the two day conference Cat, Jeremy and I had the opportunity to meet and chat with hundreds of people. It was such a rewarding experience for all of us to have a chance to meet  many of the former students and mentors who have been part of the GSoC success story. We also talked to many members of open source projects interested in learning more about how to apply to this year’s GSoC program. The timing couldn’t have been better -- the GSoC organization application opened the next day! 

Interested students came to the table and inquired about a variety of topics including the skills needed for the program, the time required to participate, best practices for writing a student proposal and the types of orgs that have participated. A list of all 440 mentoring organizations from the past nine years was available for folks to peruse. 

It was great to see so many students and mentors sporting GSoC t-shirts from many years ago, some of which could almost be considered vintage! There were also some Google Code-in shirts mixed in the bunch too.

Something we often hear from prospective students is that they don’t think they are “good enough” to be accepted as a GSoC student so they are leery of applying. We stress that the program is about hard work, dedication, and an interest in learning more about open source software development. You don’t have to be the most amazing coder the world has ever seen, but you do need to be hardworking and excited about the organization and project you are working on to be truly successful.

We’ve just recently announced the 190 open source projects that will act as mentoring organizations for 2014.  These two weeks before the student application period are a KEY time for students to research the organizations, find two or three of interest and learn more about how they work. This includes reaching out to organizations directly (before proposals begin on March 10), discussing the project’s proposed ideas list and really getting a feel for what organizations are looking for from a student proposal. 

Thanks to all of the students, mentors and open source friends who stopped by at FOSDEM. We hope to see you again next year!

By Stephanie Taylor, Google Open Source Programs