Google Code-in is a contest to introduce pre-university students (ages 13–17) to open source software development. Since 2010, 8,108 students from 107 countries have completed over 40,100 open source tasks!
The contest is often the first experience many students have with open source, hence it is designed to make it easy for students to jump right in.
Drupal is one of the 25 organizations that takes part in GCI. Being a Google Summer of Code student in 2017, I got the opportunity to mentor these amazing students as a part of GCI ’17. The enthusiasm with which these students claim and submit tasks is commendable.
After the contest concludes in January, every organization selects two lucky grand prize winners and three finalists. The grand prize winners are awarded a trip to Google San Francisco with a parent! Also, one mentor from each organization gets to attend the trip.
This year the lucky winners were Kifah Meeran(MaskyS) and Tanvish Jha(tanvish-jha) and I got to accompany Kifah as the mentor representing Drupal. We discovered Kifah, his dad and I had the same connecting flight from Paris to San Francisco after Kifah spotted me in the queue while we were boarding for the same flight! It was a long flight to San Francisco (11ish hours!)
The moment we went up the BART escalators at the Embarcadero, the splendid views of city of San Francisco awestruck us. That moment on, it only got better as we proceeded into the Hyatt Regency San Francisco where Google had booked for our stay during the trip.
Day 1 : 25th June 2018 : Welcome Reception
After a while, our wonderful hosts Stephanie, Mary and Josh from the Open Source Programs Office, Google. We walked to the Google San Francisco office a couple blocks away and were welcomed there by the rest of the team at Google.
After a brief introduction on the 7th Floor of the Google San Francisco office, a lot of goodies were distributed and we went to have dinner(at 5:30!) in the hall during which most of the students were busy competing in the ice-breaker human scavenger hunt, while I had a super early dinner and a great conversations with Mentors and students from other organizations, particularly OpenMRS. The views from the balcony on the 7th floor where we were having dinner were astonishing!
It was a great evening, most of us networked well and got to know a lot of other people in the open-source community across organizations and the different amazing things they were up to.
The program that day wasn’t very long as most people were jet-lagged and tired so we returned to the hotel walking along the Embarcadero, which is a really scenic path to walk by.
Day 2: 26th June 2018 : Google Mountain View Campus
The following day started early, we had to meet in the lobby at around 8:45. We were going to visit the Google Headquarters in Mountain View that day! 😁 It was a long ride to the Google campus in Mountain View from the Embarcadero after we hopped onto the shuttle that was waiting for us.
As we reached, we all fetched breakfast and settled down in the hall where the Awards ceremony was about to begin. The awards ceremony was brief where the director for Open-Source at Google: Chris DiBona presented the winners with trophies and a photo opportunity.
The event was followed by a bunch of exciting talks by Googlers in the same room. We later had a break for lunch and the students were grouped with Googlers from their home country while mentors had the freedom to hang around with any group. Kifah and his dad went with a Googler from Mauritius while I joined the group from India. The lunch that evening was from Google’s cafeteria. With all the choices they gave us, it was really hard to make a decision! It was a great afternoon with good food and great conversations with the Googlers, GCI students and their parents!
After the Lunch we had a tour of a part of the huge Google campus. We took a lot of group pictures and posed with the android statues.
After a couple more talks, we went to the Google merchandise store (Wohoo!)
and bought some merchandise to take back home for friends and family using the $75 gift card they gave us mentors ($150 for the students.)
After a few more pictures with the Android statues at the visitor center, we returned back to the auditorium and some of the mentors and students presented talks about their experience with Google Code-In.
We later had dinner at the Googleplex and wrapped up for the day, returning to the Hyatt.
Day 3: 27th June 2018 : San Francisco Fun Day!
This was the only day we didn’t visit any Google office! (lol)
There were two options to start off the day, we could either go for a Segway tour or a cable car tour. Me, Kifah and most people I knew went for the Segway ride. The day started with Stephanie accompanying us in the shuttle and guiding us along the way to Ghirardelli Square.
The Segway tour was amazing and the instructors were great too. We got to explore the northern part of the city better. It was a bit too undesirably chilly and windy that day than we anticipated.
After the tour, we had lunch at this amazing restaurant in Ghirardelli Square. They had printed a special menu for the GCI folks!
We later got on the bus and visited the Golden Gate Bridge. Kifah, Yusuf (Mentor from OpenMRS) and I went along with Stephanie as she showed us around the place and later walked along the bridge. It got windier as time went by and many people didn’t stay out for long, hence they had to cancel the group photos as people were feeling very cold. :(
Now that we had explored the bridge from over it, it was time to explore it from the beneath. So we headed to the pier to get aboard the cruise. It was a stunning boat. It had a bar and a kitchen on the lower deck! The open end at the rear of upper deck made for some great pictures! 😄
We had dinner aboard the cruise, although me and Yusuf weren’t really hungry from all the Mac and cheese we had for lunch. Google doesn’t leave any stone unturned to stuff you with food! The cruise went close to the stadium and there was a baseball match scheduled for the SF Giants later that day in the AT&T park.
From all the activities and extreme weather, we were really exhausted and crashed as soon as we reached the hotel after the cruise.
Day 4: 28th June 2018 : Wrapping it up
Everyone was upset as this was all going to get over in a couple of hours. We gathered in the lobby like every other morning and headed over to the SF Google office and had breakfast by this view:
We had a couple more talks by Googlers and students after the breakfast, followed by lunch, a couple more talks and more Google swag! It concluded around 2 in the afternoon as we bid our last goodbyes to all the people we had met and all the amazing friends we had made in the past couple days. By this point most of us knew each other and we had made a great network of cool people in the open source community! The mentors formed a Telegram group having all conversations ranging from social conversations to discussions and strategies on how they could help GCI run better in the following editions.
All in all, Google Code-In was a really amazing experience, seeing pre University students mingling with open source at an early age, with all the enthusiasm they come with, it’s amazing to look at the contest leader-board and how dynamically it keeps changing during the competition. The trip in itself was a wonderful experience and I would like to thank our organization admin Matthew Lechleider, our hosts at Google: Stephanie, Mary, Josh, Kat for making this possible!