About Author: Koushik Kumar, a 3rd year B.Tech (Information Technology) in the College of Engineering, Anna University was an intern in the Goggle Summer of Code program. He interned with Abiword Inc. in the Computer Science and Engineering profile.
Hello there! Last summer, I was a student participant in the Google Summer of Code program. It was perhaps the best interning experience a second year engineering student can get, without going through a lot of hassles like working environment and place of work.
Brand: Though the programme is called “Google” Summer of Code, the actual organization you get to work with is of your choice. You can choose your own Open Source organization and the one I chose was “Abiword”. Abiword is both the name of the organization and the application they develop. Abiword is a light weight text processor, and it is currently the word processor that is shipped with the laptops issued by the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project. Now here comes the brand. You will be working with an organization that is supplying an important application to a huge, worldwide project.
Actual Work: With Google Summer of Code, you have to work on a real-time project, which might be shipped with the next version of the application. So whatever code you write, it is going to be used by every child benefited by the OLPC project. So the stakes are high, and this gives you the impulse to go the extra mile and make your work really awesome.
Stipend: It’s always a great pleasure to get paid for the work you love doing. And one important aspect of Google Summer of Code is getting paid for working on what you love. The stipend is 5000 USD. This is more than what you can call as “good enough”.
Mentoring and guidance: Nothing is better than a good mentor who can guide you through the program. This is where Google has done some really good work. It makes mandatory for the Open Source organization that every student must have an individual mentor from the organization itself. Having a mentor like this really helps. I for one would not have even come near enough to completing the project had I not got a mentor to guide me.
Work Culture: You need not worry about work at all here. It’s all “work from home”. I am serious! You can work during the time and place you prefer, but it is required that you produce the necessary code in the specified time and submit (commit) it to the repository you are allocated. So let me come to my experience.
I was initially intimidated and even afraid to participate in the program. But I had a really good peer group at #Chennai -hackers on irc.freenode.net that helped me all along the way. The first step in Google Summer of Code is getting selected. For getting selected, you first have to contact the Open Source organization. This was the most awkward part for me. Sometimes nobody replies to your queries and doubts over the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel. But overall, the organization I worked with (Abiword) consists of one of most hospitable group of people you can ever get. After you are selected, it’s all about contacting the mentors through emails and IRC.
Even after getting selected, I struggled for a month or even more, for getting a feel of the codebase. My mentor was really helpful, kind and patient. He was always there to help me. He answered every single question of mine, be it simple or difficult. But once I got the hang of it, it all worked well for the result I wanted to achieve. I had to sit up nights at a stretch (since I had college in the morning in the months of July and August) to complete my project. But I loved it. Overall, Google Summer of Code is one internship program that every Open Source and programming evangelist should participate in.
Did you find this interesting? You too can participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2012 and win prizes worth Rs. 50,000. Hurry! The competition ends on 31st August, 2012.