“Well begun is half done” — Aristotle.
After a super lazy first week of summer vacations, I realized I should probably do something productive. I had always been interested in contributing to Open Source projects. Google Summer of Code (GSoC) was something that I wanted to participate in, but I was always apprehensive about applying for it since I thought I didn’t have enough programming experience or knowledge to go through with it.
I stumbled across GirlScript Summer of Code. Abbreviated as GSSoC, merely an ‘s’ away from GSoC, that ‘s’ figuratively being ‘selection’. There was no selection criteria for GSSoC. Anyone passionate and enthusiastic enough could participate, and I think people like me needed this little push for trying out their hands on Open Source.
It started off with a drawing competition hosted in partnership with GitHub Education. Since I love drawing, this was quite an engaging and intriguing starting event for me. This is my design for the popular OctoCat. The organizing team was extremely helpful and friendly during the interaction period, as were the participants. Next, we were given a list of projects to choose from. It was very difficult to choose just one or two of these, since all of them were very interesting. Anyway, after a lot of pondering, I decided to contribute to ‘Competitive Coding’, a collection of various data structures and algorithms in C++, as well as ‘Sangita’, a natural language processing toolkit for Indian languages.
I opted to contribute to Competitive Coding because I thought that it would help me with on-campus internship recruitment, and it did! I recently got selected as a Summer Intern at Western Digital, Bangalore. I only have the respective mentors to thank, as they kept encouraging me to practice and to keep pushing more and more commits into the repository.
Secondly and most importantly, Sangita. By far the most interesting project I’ve worked on, and the best mentor I’ve ever had. I was a mere beginner in the field of Machine Learning itself, but I learnt uncountable things about Neural Networks and Natural Language Processing within these numbered days. I did my bit on the Hindi Language Stemmer, i.e. finding the stem of a given word using Neural Networks. My mentor, Samriddhi Sinha, an IITKGP student, was very helpful and patient with me and my doubts at any time, be it 3pm or 3am.
My only complaint GirlScript was that they should have shifted the program such that it ended before the new academic semester started, so we would’ve had the opportunity to spend more time on projects and learn even more. Other than that, it has been a wonderful experience, and I’ll always be grateful to GirlScript for providing this chance to work and interact with such brilliant minds.