Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
I started contributing to open source development a few years back starting with WSO2 Charon, an open source library in SCIM standard for identity provisioning. Since then, I totally began to love it. Open source development in my eye is an art. An art, which brings a set of amazing people who share the same interests as you to build something amazing, something great. This summer, I got such an oppotunity to engage with a project to build a compliance test suite for SCIM 2.0 through Google Summer of Code program. In this blog post, I thought of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts on the program.
1. Pull up your socks and take the challenge
GSoC is indeed challenging. From the moment you started thinking of applying to it, till the moment where you finish your work, it’s full of challenges. Facing those challenges and solving them by yourself, gives you self confidence and immense experience.
First, you need to pick a project and an organization. Keep things simple, do not try to outlook everything. Take your interests right and keep searching for a project on them. That way, you will always have the self-motivation throughout your project because you indeed love exploring it.
Your project will have its own challenges. Remember your mentors are always there to guide you with. Do not stay stuck, step up and seek for a solution but this time with the help of your mentors.
2. Engage, I repeat, engage..
One of my favorite part of GSoC is the exposure it can give. But you need to be willing to exploit it in your own way. Simply you could be actively involved with the problems, decisions that are discussed on the organization mailing lists regarding your project domain. Rather not limited to what your project defines, by engaging in other related activities, you are sharing your knowledge, experience with others in a decision making process. This is again a great opportunity to learn as well. Also, you could actively be involved with StackOverflow or any other related forums answering questions that others have posted which you have also experienced and solved or you may think you can help them out with a suggestion. This allows you to build a global level digital footprint in your project domain not limiting to your organization or to the project.
3. See the bigger picture
Seeing the bigger picture is always enthusiastic and motivational. Once you start working on your product or the project, visualize what can be done with your product/project, what will be your outcomes. This will definitely help you in understanding the project more and go beyond the general expectations which will, on the other hand, earn you a value. WSO2’s former CEO Sanjiva Weerawarana used to say this, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. There is no harm in trying big because that’s what which will earn you a name, a brand. So try to see a bigger picture and act upon it.
4. Build the contacts
GSoC is a nice place where you could build up your contact base. Upon been accepted for an organization that you have never worked with, you get to know your mentors and teams that you need to collaboratively work with. Those are valuable contacts which may even come handy when you are looking for a career opportunity later in your life. So build your contact base as much as you can.
5. Earn your community name by blogging
Blogging is a great way to get you a brand name within a community. It just not give you a brand name, once you start blogging, you will love it. Simply just blog about your project, what you faced as problems and how you solved it. Trust me with this, when you have a blog post with many views, the feeling you will get is pretty amazing.
6. Enjoy the game
Unless you enjoy the work you do, you aren’t going to deliver your best. It is as simple as that. You chose to be enrolled with this program because you had a passion, so continue it, enjoy your work, be proud of what you are building.
I just listed a few things which came to my mind after completing my GSoC project and after meeting with fellow GSOCers. One thing I realized that we all share in common is the passion. We all are really fond of what we built and we are proud of it. And in my view, that’s what drives you forward.
Google Summer of Code program is one of the best things happened to me personally. I got many opportunities, exposures and was able to enhance my skills in terms of programming, decision making, and self-learning. Today I am a proud GSoCer who completed his project knowing that I did something valuable to the open source community and that feeling is simply amazing.
One last advice: Do it, Nail it...