Google has always been on the lookout for exceptional talent. They begin this search early with their Google Summer of Code GSoC programme. TopTalent had the chance to interact with a GSoCer, Janani Padmanabhan, who just completed her 2nd year of CS Engineering. Here’s what she has to say about her experience.
TopTalent: What can you tell us about GSoC?
Janani: Google Summer of Code, more popular as GSoC, is an annual summer program hosted by Google. It provides an amazing opportunity for student developers to code their summer away with great mentoring and a nice stipend. Every year, hundreds of open-source organizations register with this program. A GSoC aspirant is to submit a proposal to these organizations. If the proposal is selected, he/she contributes to the organization under the guidance of an active member of the organization who acts as his mentor.
TopTalent: Can you briefly state your background?
Janani: I was born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, but had the awesome opportunity of a tryst with a variety of cultures, being always on move. Now I am in BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus, having completed my Second Year of BE (Hons.), Computer Science. The areas of Computer Science that constantly attract my awe and passion are theoretical computer science and scientific computing and my chosen projects have been related to these fields. I have worked on approximation algorithms and mainly Genetic Algorithms.
Apart from this I am interested in Finance and Creative Writing, duly being nourished by the college which has given me the opportunity to be one of the directors of the finance club of the college and also the editor in chief of the official Editorial Board of the college.
TopTalent: Can you describe the complete selection process?
Janani: The selection process for Google Summer of Code is a pretty straight-forward one. Once the list of participating open source organizations is out, we have to shortlist the organizations whose purpose best matches with our interests, look into their functions and source-codes, contact their active members and most importantly come up with a project that is in line with their aim and of interest to the active contributors. We then submit a detailed proposal which the organization reviews and then proceeds to select the projects that are of use to it. My detailed proposal can be viewed here.
TopTalent: What project are you working on currently?
Janani: My project is with SciPy, a Python package commonly used for mathematical aspects of scientific computing applications. I aim to improve the speed of spherical harmonic function, develop ellipsoidal harmonic functions and to debug hyper-geometric function.
TopTalent: How much preparation did you put into this opportunity?
Janani: I took my own time to get acquainted with the mailing culture and the code base of SciPy. It took 2 months to get acquainted with the organizations, to understand the direction of its development and also to learn and familiarize myself with version control systems like git. Then my focus was to develop the proposal and refine it based on the inputs from the prospective mentors and other active members.
TopTalent: What is your advice to other students looking for a similar opportunity?
Janani: Basically, we need interest and perseverance to make it through. Open source coding, documentation and mailing etiquette is not something we have in our formal curriculum but it is definitely a window to the actual coding world out there. It also allows us to meet some amazing people across the globe. So, GSoC or not, I would advise all the Computer Science students to give it a try.
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