Sapan Diwakar

Software developer

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Why I like GSoC and why I don't like!

I know the title seems confusing but I have got several arguments for both. Why will someone not like it? I mean everyone loves it, be it a student, an organization, a mentor or any other watcher outside the community. Students get the opportunity to contribute to open source community, chance to get exposure to real world outside of their academics, get to know about working in a large team with skilled people in their interested field. Organizations get to host new students, new talent and are able to achieve some wonderful projects during the summer and get another contributor to their open source project for the future. Thanks to Google and Carol for this.

But to me it has been a bitter experience. It didn't go well for me second time in a row as I didn't get accepted this year too. I'm sure there would have been better proposals and skilled students for the organizations and it's a tough task for them to choose between several proposals. BUT this is not what my blog post is all about. I am basically trying to reach out to those organizations which don't think of the students the way they should, they don't think about the time a student spends for writing proposals, time they spend in getting to know about their framework/documentation before submitting the proposal, their willingness to contribute to open source etc. It is necessary for organizations to assess the student's ability and interest before they accept him for the highly competitive program. But sometimes organizations forget that the students are applying for the summer and it might be possible that they don't have enough time during the application period to contribute as much as they expect (Really! Some organizations expect students to work on their proposals like they are working full time for the organizations during that time).

Similar to last year I was excited about GSoC when Google announced SoC early this year. Out of several organizations I decided to go with 4 organizations which were related to my area of interest. I was also interested in applying 1-2 more organizations but due to lack of time and my inclination towards concentrating more on writing better proposals, I decided not to go with others. First organization I decided to go with requires good knowledge of HTML5 and jQuery (which I have a good experience with). I looked a bit about similar projects, looked in the community discussions and then after 4-5days x 4-5 hours I came up with an initial draft of my proposal and sent it to the mentors for feedback and went with other organizations in the same way I wrote few others and send them to respective mentors.

Later I received mails from only 2-3 organizations. I was curious about that so I again sent mails to the organizations that I didn't hear from. No offence meant, but the organizations expect students to contribute full time (even during the application phase) honestly but is it only about student? Aren't the students also like them, with plenty things to do (exams, assignments, part time work, lectures etc.) during the time when students have to submit proposals. Later (after I made several repeated attempts to reach out to them) I received responses from the remaining organizations apologizing that my mails got missed and mixed up with others. Are they kidding? Is it not the responsibility of organization and program administrators to give equal value to each proposal?

Later on when Google announced the result, I didn't get selected. I tried to contact those mentors with whom I had a good conversation. I think it should be made mandatory by Google that each organization should give feedback to each students whey didn't they accept his/her proposal so that they can improve it later on.

I received a mail from one mentor saying that he was not able to see my proposal now but didn't he know me after communicating 4-5 times in last 20 days? My most frustration comes with this organization (Sorry, I am not taking names here) as I exchanged a series of mails with them and I can't tell you how lengthy they were. My communication was like the communication which happens in community bonding period. After the result without asking they mailed me saying that my proposal was excellent but my mentor was very busy this summer and they didn't have any back up mentor for the project. After reading this mail I was like woo! is it so simple to say like this? A mentor's availability wouldn't have changed in a few days of evaluation. If they knew that the mentor wasn't going to be free during the summer, they should have at least gave me some hint during the initial discussions about the project.