Google Summer of Code, GSoC has become a premier event in the IT undergraduates calender in Sri Lanka thanks to the effort of those who spread the word around. Due to the attractive advantages it provides, many are interested in taking part of the program. Few contact me as well and ask about the program with the burst of the GSoC this year as well. But I feel most of them do not understand value behind.
As a result, I think of writing and sharing a piece of ideas with the students about GSoC, before the student application period has begun.
According to the GSoC program introduction one of its main goals is to <code>Help open source projects identify and bring in new developers and committers.</code>. Further the program wishes that the students will work with those organizations after the GSoC period is over as well. Many remain but few walk away as well. Because few think this is a program to earn some quick sum of money and reputation. If any thinks that way, very unfortunate, he is going to miss the best part of the cake.
It is right that you can get some money and reputation and qualification, nice piece that can be added to your CV as well. But that is not the everything it offers. If you truly live with the organization you are assigned to work with during the programs’ period, you will realize the opportunities and knowledge that you can gained by contributing to the project after the program concludes. Not only the technical stuff related knowledge but the experience as well. This would be a nice training before entering to the corporate world of coding. As far as the program is concerned this is the most important opportunity students achieve.
However some students suddenly get to know about the program and it’s stipend and try to step in, wondering about the superficial benefits only. May be they are successful with their proposals and complete the project and pass the evaluation as well. What about next then? Walk away from the Free Software project they have worked with and again repeat the same steps in the next year and get the opportunity with another organization. I am not implying that the each and every student behave like this. Many students whom I personally know with in Sri Lanka has created life time connections with the organizations they have worked with.
I see no wrong here, even though such practice is carried out. But if it causes to loose an opportunity of another student who is very keen on Free Software, that would be a serious damage. BUT still those students are correct. Most of the time mentors should have to have a great understanding of students who apply. Before selecting one proposal it is mandatory to investigate the students’ past work with Free Software Organizations and should determine the possibility of the disappearance after the final evaluation. Noting is perfect, but with above practice it will be possible to find the right student, I believe.
Finally, students, before taking this challenge please think twice, there is no need to disappear, try to stay with the organization as much as possible. Try to support it as much as possible. Not only because it gives others something but mostly it gives you many opportunities/ benefits. Make use of this opportunity and concur it. That is the real moral behind the GSoC.
Happy coding with GSoC !