How to become a GitHub Campus Expert: Walking through the application process

Arman Moztarzadeh
6 min readJan 3, 2024

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Introduction

What is the GitHub Campus Expert program? It’s essentially a program for students to become leaders of their technical community while sharing skills and creating new opportunities for other students. Applications usually open twice a year (as I’m writing, they open once in February and August). Once accepted into the program, you get to join other GCE members in a vibrant and friendly community where everyone is welcoming and supportive of one another. There are workshops, events, and conferences that are hosted, and you also get to hear exclusive news about releases and additions to the program or GitHub before they’re officially announced!

In this article, I’ll go through my experience applying to the program, how I was initially rejected, the application process, and what you can get out of the program. I’ve been a member since February 2023 and hopefully, this article can help answer questions or provide more info on what to expect when applying.

Pre-Requisites:

Firstly, to be a GitHub Campus Expert, you need to make sure you meet the criteria listed on their website. As of writing this article, this information includes:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Validate your student status through the GitHub Student Developer Pack.
  • Be enrolled in a post-secondary formal education institution.
  • Have more than one year left as a student before graduating.
  • Be a GitHub user for at least six months.
  • Not be enrolled in the GitHub Campus Advisors Program.

If you meet all the criteria, then you’re good to go and apply!

Step 1: Written Application questions

The first step in applying to the program is going through the application questions. These questions are generally meant to understand who you are, why you want to become a GitHub Campus Expert, and what challenges your community currently faces. I remember when I first applied to the program back in early 2022 and filled out the questions. I tried to write just up to the word count so that I could add as much info as possible about myself and my community; however, to my surprise, I was rejected the first time. This made me feel discouraged and disappointed, but I was able to reflect and understand the reason behind my rejection.

One main factor was that I didn’t delve too much into my community. I talked a lot about my experience, skills, and background, but not so much about my community, what makes it special, and the challenges that it faced.

When answering the questions, make sure that you briefly talk about your community and what you plan on doing as a GCE if accepted into the program. Once accepted, you’re expected to be able to introduce workshops, events, and activities that can help uplift your community (whether that’s teaching new skills to students, or creating a hackathon). So, it’s important to talk about what your goals are and what you are hoping to achieve with this program.

Make sure you also include a lot of information for each question. Generally, if a question has a word count of 150, don’t write 50 words or 75 words as that’s too short. You would want to write up to 130–150 as that’s a safer range that makes sure you talked as much as you can for that specific question.

Finally tip: Remember to be yourself! Don’t try to copy someone else’s application or create false expectations. Just talk about who you are, what skills you have, and what you hope you can achieve with the program. Some real people read these applications, so try to make them as authentic as possible.

Step 2: Video Application

If your application is successful, you’ll have the opportunity to submit a 5-minute video where you answer more questions about yourself and your community. The first time I applied, I never made it this far as I was simply rejected for the written application (but luckily I was able to learn from the mistakes).

Similar to the written application, make sure you go into as much detail as possible. Don’t spend so much time on one portion, but instead try to balance it out so that you talk about yourself, your community and what makes it unique, your community challenges, and what you can contribute to the program community if accepted. It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand so that when you’re recording, you know what you’re going to say and the main points you want to talk about.

When I prepared for mine, I also made a Google Doc with bullet points on what I wanted to include in the video. This way when I recorded, I was able to quickly glance at my window to make sure I hit all the points.

My best advice would be to make it sound like you. Try not to make it as if you’re reading off a script and also try to talk more about your community. You don’t wanna spend 4 minutes talking about yourself and your skills, and then leave the last minute only to answer the community questions. When I made my video, some key things they mentioned in the email were these points:

  • The video length should be between 3–5 minutes.
  • Should be recorded in landscape mode
  • Must be in English

Finally, try to find a good location when you’re recording. Make sure you have good lighting, there’s no background noise like traffic or construction, and make sure you’re filming in horizontal/landscape orientation.

Once you submit, you’ll usually receive an update on your application status two weeks after video submissions have closed.

Step 3: Acceptance

If you’re accepted, congratulations! You should receive an email with your congratulations email and what to do with the next steps. Usually, the next steps include:

  1. Accepting the invitation
  2. Attending one of the Campus Experts’ Onboarding calls.
  3. Reviewing the deadlines and getting started with the training

The onboarding call is a great way to meet other Campus Experts who’ve been accepted in the same batch as you and to also make new connections. You also get to meet the program directors, staff, and some community leaders as well. You will also be added to the GitHub Campus Expert repository which will include more instructions and steps for your training.

Step 4: Training

For the training, you’ll be expected to complete the Community Leader Skills training exercises, and then submit your solutions to the exercises to get them approved. There are 7 modules in total. Once you complete all of the exercises, you can submit them and make a pull request.

In my experience, I didn’t find the training to be complicated or confusing. You can most likely complete all the Most of the questions were somewhat building off of what the application questions were, whereas this time it’s more about planning events and logistics, how to create a proper code of conduct, etc…

I believe you’re given six weeks to complete all the modules, but you can most likely finish all of them within a couple of hours in one day (as that’s what I did).

A reviewer will then review your submission. They may leave feedback that will require you to make changes to your submission, so make sure you check back on GitHub to see if you have any new updates.

Conclusion

Once your training is completed and you’ve been approved, that's it! You’re officially a member of the GitHub Campus Expert program and you also receive a badge on your GitHub profile that indicates you are a GitHub Campus Expert for your community. You’ll also receive some amazing swag from GitHub in a couple of weeks, and you get to act as a GitHub Leader for your community!

I hope this article was useful. If you have any questions, you can contact me on LinkedIn, or by email at armanmoztar@outlook.com.

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