Students’ proposal submission is on-progress and about 7 days left. As I see submitting a proposal to an organization would be the hardest part in the GsoC program.
Disclaimer : Since I am the administrator and a would-be mentor for the Fedora Project, this post does nt indicate nothing related with the Fedora project proposal selections. This is a general review as a whole.
I didnt participate with the GsoC program as a students therefore I dont have any experience of what students feel through out the period, but with mentoring experience with students for around 2 years, I am sure that they should be excited. Getting selected to a project is relatively easy if and only if you follow the right path. If you are dedicated enough and willing to learn this would be a feasible goal.
The success of your effort highly depends on the period you start working for the program. It is good if you start working for GsoC around month January. It is possible to select an organization based on your skills and keep in touch with the organization, getting familiar with the product, technology and tools they use. However not every organization get the opportunity, therefore even though you start your work earlier, may be you need to switch to another organization if the organization could nt get into the program.
Since a selecting orgnization step has already been passed I am willing to focus on the proposal submission process. The competition is high therefore you should make sure your proposal is on a good standing. There can be instances that more than one student is applying for one project idea. Even though there is one student for one proposal there is a chance you dont get the chance as there is a limit for accepted projects. Therefore it is required to make sure that your application/ proposal go though above situations to the winning post.
How many proposals?
In simple logic, more proposals means for chances to win. Since Google allow 20 applications per student this seems to be a good bet. However having focusing for more proposals is unfortunately not the best solution. Having firm one proposal would make you the winner instead. However going for 2 proposals for the same organization would be fairly enough. Bare mind the quality over the quantity matters.
Content of the Proposal?
Every organization has a template for the students’ applications. Make sure you have answered each and every question on the template. If you feel something to add apart from the questiones please feel free. That would give some extra informations about your idea. Please make sure the answers are comptehensive. Provide reference as much as possible.
Many organizations ask a time line on the proposal. Students are required to provide a rough time line with important dates. If it is not asked it is good to provide one. Make sure you cover every aspects of the idea and deliver what is asked. Bare mind your evaluation could based on the time line. Therefore you should consider your other activities such as examinations in the university and such. Do not promise what you cannot deliver, just to get selected. Promise what you can do depending on your availability and skills. For an example if you are required to lean a new technology or a tool please consider the time required for that activity when planning your time line. Promising something which cannot be delivered would badly effect on your evaluation. Therefore timeline is something critical. Take it serious.
When answering make sure the answers are comprehensive. Try to present the total picture which is in your mind completely. You can use images where every required, hundreds of words can be saved using one sketch. This works most of the time for UIs.
Winning the proposal is not everything. State everything required. If you need a leave for a week due to university exams please note it. So that your mentor is aware about your requirement. Do not believe putting things like that on your proposal will downgrade your proposal. If you promise to cover your tasks later there is no impact at all.
Start work early
Starting working early would be a plus point. Some organizations need students to develop some patches, fix some bugs before the program starts. If not students can start working on their idea as soon the proposal is finished. Keep your mentor informed about things you are doing. Include things you did on the proposal if there is anything.
Submitting the proposal
There is no advantage by submitting the proposal in a hurry. You can always update or modify your application on google-melange till the deadline is met. Therefore submitting as soon as the application period start wont give you any extra advantage. But make sure your application/ proposal has been submitted as the organization instructed. Submission of the proposal to the google-melange is must and further some organizations ask to create the proposal on the wiki as well. Make sure you complete what the organization ask.
Interact with the community
Every organization is a effort of the community behind. Therefore try to be a part of the community. Involve with the discussions in your capacity. If there is a process to become a member of the community start it asap. There is no need to wait till you get accepted.
GsoC is not the everything
Finally, may be your proposal wont be selected even though you follow things and did a great job. But do not disappointed and get disappear. Involving with the organization whether you got selected or not. Not getting selected is not a barrier to work with the organization. Bare mind GsoC is not FOSS, therefore continue contributing towards the Free Software organisations what ever happens. You can keep working and enjoying with the organization and its’ community.