Mentoring in GSoC 2021

This year is the first time I'm mentoring in GSoC. Here's why I decided to mentor, the progress until now and what's up next.

# GSoC

I’m now a mentor for Postman in Google Summer of Code 2021! I’ve participated as a student before with Neovim in 2018, but this year is the first time that I’m mentoring in GSoC. I will be mentoring 2 projects for Newman, the “All-weather CLI Companion for Postman.”

What is GSoC?

Google Summer of Code, or GSoC, is an annual program organised by Google during the summer to introduce students to open source projects and become a part of the community. In their own words:

Google Summer of Code

Google Summer of Code is a global program focused on introducing students to open source software development. Students work on a 10 week programming project with an open source organisation during their break from a post secondary academic program.

How does it work?

The program is divided into several segments:

  1. Organisation apply – Organisations wishing to participate submit applications.
  2. Students discuss ideas with orgs – The students reach out to orgs and propose ideas and discuss what they wish to work on.
  3. Students submit applications – Students draft proposals and get reviews from potential mentors.
  4. Community bonding – Selected students prepare for the coding period. They also begin interacting with the community and get a taste of open source.
  5. Coding and evaluations – The students code through the summer with their mentors.

What’re the benefits?

For the students, the obvious benefit is the exposure to development in an open source organisation. They become a part of the community all the while doing what they like best – coding. Another benefit is the stipend that Google provides for the students so that they “flip bits, not burgers.”

For the organisation, they get a new contributor and a community member who provides value to the project as well as the community.

Why did I decide to mentor?

There are so many reasons!

The biggest reason for me to want to mentor was because I was a student participant in GSoC. I remember 2 years back when I was a student and knew nothing about development in a big project. I had only worked on small-scale projects with 2-3 people. The kind of challenges I tackled and work experience I got from working in Neovim made me fall in love with development all over again.

Another reason is that it’s open source! I have always been in love with open source software because of what it represents – freedom. The freedom to share your work, the freedom to collaborate and create something which benefits everyone and not just a few.

Being able to give back is another reason. I have gained so much because of my mentors at my college, at Neovim and at Postman. They have literally made me who I am. Mentoring in GSoC is an opportunity for me to be that for others like me.

Until now…

The selection period

The selection period is probably the most important period in the GSoC timeline. The decisions made during this period result in successful or failed projects.

We got many proposals and selecting among those was a difficult call to make. We had to turn down a lot of talented students simply because we could not select all of them. It is never easy to decide who to take because everyone brings so many different things to the table!

After the selection period, Postman selected nine projects and I get to mentor two of them!

  1. Newman Dashboard – I’m the primary mentor for this project. The aim is to create a dashboard for the Newman CLI application which enables users to view and control the different collection runs of Newman.
  2. Newman Request – I’m the secondary mentor for this project. This will allow sending single requests (as opposed to running whole collections) with Newman and view the results using various Newman reporters.

Community bonding period

The community bonding period is almost at its end. We started off with a group call where all the students and mentors got to know each other. The students also started interacting with the community on GitHub and researching and finalising the details for their projects.

Another thing important for this period is meeting with the student 1:1. This helps setup the expectations straight for both the sides. We met and decided on a communication channel that suits us best and figured out the cadence of updates on work, blockers, etc. We also decided to publish somewhat regular blog posts where we would post any important decisions, discussions, announcements, etc.

What’s next?

The coding period is about to begin and there’s lots to work on. I will be spending the next couple of months with the amazing students working on Open Source software! Could it be more awesome?!

Cover image stolen from Postman blog.