GSoC FAQ

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This is the page for some of the frequently asked questions by the prospective participants of the Google Summer of Code.

General Questions

Am I required to be local?

Q: If someone is selected as a student coder through the Summer of Code, will they need to be in the Boston area over the summer?

A: No, we are not asking anyone to move to Boston for the summer. While you are most welcome to come and work at the Berkman Klein Center if you are selected for an internship, we will not force anyone accepting an internship to move. We have worked with students from around the world.

Do I need to keep regular business hours?

Q: If I'm selected, can I work any time of the day that I want?

A: We are going to favor coders that are available for a significant amount of time Monday to Friday during [EST] business hours. We have found that synchronous communication is key to working together effectively. Consider this a requirement.

Can I have other jobs/internships/consulting gigs?

Q: I've got a consulting gig, an internship or another job lined up. Cool?

A: No. We want your full attention for the summer - it's a real job, with a real commitment from both sides.

Do I have to be Harvard-affiliated already?

Q: Is this limited to Harvard and/or Berkman Klein coders?

A: No. This is open to any and all that would like to apply and we warmly welcome new folks to our community. In fact we very much look foroward to contributors joining from out side the Harvard community as it gives us a fresh perspective.

Will applying to a certain project give me an advantage?

Q: Are some projects a higher priority than others? If so, what are they?

A: No. Our selection depends on the strength of the applicants and the strength of the applications. We are most interested in finding the right candidates.

Are there any preferred languages/frameworks?

Q: What are they?

A: We prefer that the language and framework for a proposal match the language or framework an existing project is written in. For projects that are orthogonal to an existing code base, we prefer Ruby, JavaScript, Python, or PHP. We prefer MVC frameworks or micro-frameworks: Rails or Sinatra for Ruby, Django for Python, et cetera. Our PHP work mostly extends Drupal or WordPress. There is some flexibility in frameworks but less in languages. We are not interested in proprietary languages at all, nor in .NET.

These preferences are based on the skill set of the Berkman Klein geek team and our long-term ability to maintain and host a limited set of languages.

Do you accept late applications?

Q: I'm really late to this. Can I still apply after the deadline?

A: No. April 9, 2019 at 13:00 (EDT) / 18:00 (UTC) is a hard deadline. Google's policies do not permit us to consider late applications.

Where can I get more information?

Q: I'm still confused. Where can I find out more about GSoC program specifics?

A: No fear! The GSoC homepage has some great general resources for interested students. We also suggest checking out:

How will the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society be evaluating students?

Q: How can I show that I am interested, energized, knowledgeable and likeable? I really want to work on one of the projects that is listed on your ideas page and I’m unsure of where to show my interest.

A: We are looking for a student that is technically skilled, has good communication skills, is a hard worker, and has set enough time aside to allow them to succeed. Student applicants can show technical skill and knowledge by sharing code for projects they have written previously or are currently working on. We appreciate previous experience in free/open source projects (e.g. contributions visible in GitHub), in projects related to the one applying, or in previous GSoCs. Student applicants can also check out the codebase, if one for the projects exists, and become familiar with the underlying languages and technologies.

Student applicants can show their communication skills by having thoughtful discussions with the project mentors and responding to communications in a timely fashion. We would love for our student applicants to be able to ask good questions. By this, we mean having taken the diligence to check out the FAQs, documentation, taken time to check out the code, and tried to install and/or run the app.

We’d love you to be able to be familiar with the project itself so that you know you would be excited to work on it over the course of the summer. We want to provide you with the information you need to be excited about the project and know it is a fit for you.

Can I start contributing now?!

Q: Can I start submitting pull requests? What can I do to get ahead in the application process? I want to get started!

A: We appreciate the excitement, but we'd prefer applicants hold off. We trust you can fix the small bugs, but we're more interested in your approach to solving larger problems. The bigger things are more interesting to you and to us. Think about how you would spend your time this summer. What would you do to improve the project besides the small fixes? We are interested both in your technical skill, but also your holistic understanding of the project. Ultimately, we will judge your application by the thoughtfulness of your proposal.

What does “loosely defined” mean?

Q: I want a specific list of issues to tackle. Why don’t you provide any of that for the “loosely defined” projects?

A: For some projects, part of the exercise for you this summer will be figuring out your own path forward. For spme projects we’re in the very early stages--we haven’t even figured out schema yet. We want you to be creative, define your own methods, and identify areas you think are worth exploring. While we welcome fresh and new ideas this blue sky approach can be very difficult. If one of these "loosely defined" projects is something you want to pursue we highly recommend taking the time to think very thoroughly through the project and be in contact with the mentor to discuss the project in more detail.

How many projects can I apply to?

Q: Wow there are a lot of very interesting projects that The Berkman Klein Center has and I want to apply to work on a few of them. What should I do?

A: We will certainly accept applications to multiple projects and applying to more then one doesn't mean that a candidate will be rejected. That said we encourage students to focus on one project as it often yields better and more thought out responses to the challenges posed by each of the projects. If you are accepted you will only be working on one project.


What should I include in my application?

Q: I don't know what to include in my application?

A: We have provided an application template that you can use. This includes some basic information for us to get to know you and a section to see what your proposal is. In your proposal we would love to see well thought out approaches to how you plan to implement the features you wish to take on for the summe. A well thought out application will include a timeline with milestones for your work throughout the summer.