Saturday, April 20, 2013

Google Summer of Code 2013 info session @ UGent

About 45 interested students showed up for the Google Summer of Code 2013 info session that was organised at Ghent University on Monday, April 15th 2013 in the Faculty of Engineering in the Plateau building.

First there was an general introduction on what Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is, explaining the goal of the program, the benefits for the students and an overview of the timeline. This was followed by a few Open Source organisations that will participate in this year's GSoC, presenting themselves and potential projects to work on, and a few students who took part in past versions of GSoC, sharing their experiences with the audience. This turned out to be a nice mix of information and different experiences that gave a good view for the attending students on what to expect from applying for and participating in GSoC.

Some useful advice that was spread :

  • Put enough time in the preparation of your project proposal. Your future mentors will review this and will base their decision on accepting you mostly on this proposal. Make sure you explain well what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and how much time you will spend on each part. Be as detailed as possible.
  • Be active in the community of the organisation you want to work with. This shows the mentors that you are really interested. Don't be afraid to ask questions, or to participate in a discussion on the IRC channel or mailing list. It helps when your name rings a bell when the mentors are going through all the project proposals.
    The sooner you start with this, the better. Follow the mailing list and try submitting a few patches. It was suggested that you choose an org for next year already and contribute to it, as a preparation for GSoC 2014 (if there would be one).
  • Choose a project you like. If you get accepted you'll spend almost 3 months working full time on it, so it helps if the programming language, developing environment, code base and your project are something you are comfortable with. This does not mean that you should choose a too easy project, there can be some challenge. That will keep it interesting for you. Just find something you can chew but is challenging enough to keep you going.
    It was mentioned that having some proficiency with the programming language you will be working with is usually a good point, but one of the organisations (ESUG) mentioned that learning a new language (SmallTalk in their case) can be a nice experience as well.
  • It is an interesting experience, that will give you some real world development experience, will get you introduced in the Open Source community and looks nice on your CV.
The evening was closed by a reception with room for the students to talk to the speakers and ask questions.

Thanks to the Google Open Source Programs Office for the promotional material, the Open Source organisations (phpMyAdmin, SAGE, ESUG, MuseScore, Debian and Samba) and previous GSoC students (Jasper Van der Jeugt (worked on Haskell) and Sander Bogaert (worked on K9 mail)) for their talks and sharing their experience, and to the student associations (VTK, Zeus WPI, Ceneka) and UGent for their help in organising the event.

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