How I got selected for GSoC 2022 (with a few tips and my proposal!)

Here's my journey of getting my proposal accepted into the UC Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS) through GSoC 2022!

Asavari Ambavane
6 min readOct 25, 2022
image courtesy: here

What is GSoC?

Since you are reading this article, I’m pretty sure you have a basic idea of what Google Summer of Code or GSoC is. You might want to check out their official site for the perfect explanation if you don't. In brief, GSoC is an open-source program, powered by Google that connects organizations to students to work on their projects over the summer. This is an amazing opportunity for students as they are exposed to real-world code and also get first-hand experience working on production-level projects.

GSoC is less of an internship and more of a learning experience in my opinion. You are, of course, paid decently for your work which is an additional perk. The stipend varies from country to country and is listed on their website. There are two types of projects - medium (~175 hours) and large (~350 hours), categorized based on the time span contributors need to dedicate to that project.

If you want to be a contributor, here are the important events you should look out for on the GSoC website. (dates according to the 2022 program)

  • List of accepted mentoring organizations published (March 7)
  • Potential GSoC contributors discuss application ideas with mentoring organizations (March 7 — April 3)
  • GSoC contributor application period begins (April 4)
  • GSoC contributor application deadline (April 19)
  • Accepted GSoC contributor projects announced (May 20)

Without any further details about the program, let's straight dive into my journey with GSoC!

The Start

I have read many blogs of people sharing their GSoC selection story and most of them mention how they started their preparation in January itself. While that would be the most ideal way to start your journey, you shouldn't lose hope just because you are a little late in the process, because let me tell you, I started my search in late February/early March after the organizations were released. Since I knew I wanted to take up a web development project, there wasn't much I could do until I knew what the projects were. But, you should definitely calculate your start date based on the project type, the competition in the organization, and your ability to communicate with the mentors before you decide to take it slow.

Here are a few pointers on how to get started —

  • If you are sure the organization you want to contribute to will most likely participate in GSoC that year, you can start early and contact their mentors without waiting.
  • Doing thorough research on organizations that offer projects under your domain of interest in advance helps speed up the process once the list is out.

Choosing My Project

With so many options laid out in front of me, honestly, I was confused too. The most important step I followed to help me make the right decision was to make an excel sheet in the format given below.

This is single-handedly the best technique to streamline your thoughts and review them all at once. This is what helped me consider all the parameters and thus make my final choice. And then —

PS: I chose 3 projects because I wanted to do everything that improved my chances of getting selected.

  1. Chromium: Aggregation Jobs Control Plane
  2. Free And Open Source Silicon Foundation: Circuit Visualization
  3. Center For Research In Open Source Software (Cross): Develop a website for PolyPhy

Email! Email! Email!

Once I had decided on my projects, I sat down and wrote emails to the mentors. It gets very hectic handling 3 projects and talking to their mentors at the same time.

For Chromium, I had to complete a whole pre-requisite task for them to even review my proposal. That took 5–6 days to code and deploy.

For FOSSi, even writing emails to the mentor required extensive research as it was a new field I barely knew stuff about.

For UC Cross, I was very close to the deadline when I emailed my mentor. By then, he already had other students applying in and warned me about the competition. I assured him that I was confident about my ideas and he then arranged a Zoom call for us to discuss the project. I made a small prototype (just the homepage) of the website he wanted in 2 days' time and presented it to him in the meeting.

I kept emailing all 3 mentors back and forth, and once I got the hang of the projects, started working on my proposals.

Things to keep in mind —

  • Mentors have a lot on their plate too, so getting a reply from them might take days, so I’d suggest starting as early as you can.
  • Not all mentors prefer email, so read the code of conduct on the GSoC website and contact them accordingly.
  • Make a good first impression, DO NOT contact them without research, state all the relevant work you have done previously, and make them feel that you know the project.

Writing the Proposals

This step is definitely the most crucial step in the application process. To write the perfect proposal —

  • Seek help from former GSoCers and ask them to share their proposals.
  • Use visuals in your proposal.
  • Use a clean and professional template.
  • Add stuff about you apart from your previous experiences. Eg. your time zones, your working hours, your preferred communication medium, etc.
  • Write steps that will convince the mentors and reviewers that you won't slack during the course of the project.
  • Most Important — DELIVERABLES
  • Get your drafts reviewed by your mentors and seniors.

My Proposal Format

  1. Introduction
  2. Biographical Information
  3. Project Objectives and Expected Results
  4. Why < organization name >?
  5. Deliverables and Implementation Plan
  6. Code Affected
  7. Related Pre-Proposal Work
  8. Schedule of Deliverables
    - April 20 — May 20 (Pre-Selection)
    - May 20 — June 12 (Community Bonding Period)
    - June 13 — July 25 (Phase I)
    - July 25 — September 12 (Phase II)
    - September 12 — November 21 (For Extended Timelines)
  9. Post GSoC Plans

After drafting my proposals, I sent them to all the mentors to review. After 3–4 iterations, it was time to submit the proposals.

Link to my proposal that got accepted!

Yes, I was dead tired after all this.

The Wait

(Well, not exactly waiting)

Once the proposals are in, an important part is keep following up to the mentors by working on the project.

  • Pitch in some ideas.
  • Clone the repos and tinker the code.
  • Get familiarised with the project interface.
  • Ask for articles you could read about the project.

All these really cast a good impression on the mentor and the organization and help push you as the best candidate for the job!

I found myself really enjoying my UC CROSS Project and kept receiving positive responses from my mentor during this period.


Finally the results were out and my proposal to the UC CROSS Organization got accepted in GSoC 2022! I had the most productive summer working as a part of GSoC. It was a terrific learning experience overall and I would like to thank my mentors, Oskar Elek and Ezra Huscher for being so supportive and patient throughout. Here is my final project report.

Thank you for reading this blog till the end. I hope it helps you with your GSoC journey in the future!

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