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Yesterday, Google announced who the mentoring organizations will be for this year's Google Summer of Code, "a global program focused on bringing more student developers into open source software development. Students work with an open source organization on a 3 month programming project during their break from school." This is a paid internship program open to students 18 years or older who are admitted to or enrolled (part-time or full-time) at an accredited higher education institution, in most countries. (So, community colleges are fine, and grad students are fine. Full eligibility requirements here.) No previous software industry experience or CS classes are required -- novice programmers are welcome and we particularly want people who have little or no experience contributing to open source projects.

If you're eligible, and you want a 3-month paid, mentored internship where you write code that real people will use and that you can share in your portfolio later, this is a pretty great opportunity. Here's more about how it works.

Several mentoring organizations are asking for people who know some Python. I'm currently doing some contract work with one: Zulip got accepted as a mentoring organization for GSoC for the second year in a row. I've been contracting as a community coordinator for Zulip for about a year, and I love that it's a project where we nurture new contributors inclusively and have high standards of engineering rigor. (I profiled the maintainer, Tim Abbott, in this post about kind negative code review, and I posted about it in this community last year.) Zulip is a group chat web app with desktop and mobile clients; you can try out our chat if you want to feel it out.

Apply: Here's the getting-started page. We encourage applicants to get started on their applications right away, since getting familiar with our development workflow is part of the application process -- we'll help you through that. Application deadline: April 3, 2017.

Outreach: If you want to tell other students and professors about this, the GSoC site has flyers you could put up and a presentation template. And feel free to introduce me to students you know who might want to know more.

Volunteer: Zulip and other mentoring organizations can use as much help as you can offer, from big commitments to small. Some options:

  • co-mentoring a student for several months: several hours per week and 1- or 2-day email turnaround time

  • hanging out on mailing lists and in chat rooms to help newer programmers figure things out, maybe offering light code review: a few hours' initial investment getting the hang of the project, then as much or as little time as you can offer

  • Try setting up our developer environment and write up a short discovery report to tell us what went smoothly and what tripped you up, so we can fix problems facing GSoC applicants: maybe 4 hours

  • English tutoring: 90 minutes


Reach out to me if you want help getting matched up with a mentoring org that could use your help; I'll default to Zulip but also consider other projects.

What about non-students and non-code contributions? Outreachy is a similar paid 3-month internship program helping new people get into contributing to open source. Programming, documentation, marketing, design, release management, and all sorts of other internships are available. Eligibility: people from several groups underrepresented in the industry:

Currently, internships are open internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Additionally, they are open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. We are planning to expand the program to more participants from underrepresented backgrounds in the future.

You can spread the word with flyers and pre-written emails/posts.

The deadline for applying to Outreachy is March 30th, 2017. Zulip is not participating in the coming round, but there are great projects that are, and I'm familiar with some of them!

I'm very familiar with GSoC and Outreachy, as I've helped organizations work with them since 2011. Feel free to ask questions here in comments and I'll do my best to answer!
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