Student Guide

Being Turned Down

You've done your homework, found an exciting project, and you've written the best proposal you could. And you didn't get into GSoC.

Don't despair! The beauty of engaging in the GSoC process is that you're learning about groups of people that extend beyond just GSoC. Making contact with potential mentors and a software community sets the stage for future opportunities for participating in community-developed open source software projects.

What to do now?

First don't take it personally. Just like when you apply for a job, there are reasons why you might not get in, some that have nothing to do with you. Mentors may not be available, the organization may not have enough space for your project or it may just not be the right time for your proposal. 

So, where to go from here? There are several strategies you can consider to go forward positively. 

Ask for feedback on your proposal
Just like in job interviews, gathering information about why your proposal wasn't accepted is a great thing to do to improve your next application. Some example questions to politely ask if your proposal is turned down include: 

  • Was there a mismatch with my skills and the project requirements? If so, what skill areas can I work on to be better qualified next year?
  • Did I engage enough with the community during the application process? 
  • Do you have any suggestions on how to improve my pre-application communication?
  • Was my project plan clear?  Do you have any suggestions on how I can better communicate my ideas via the project plan next year?

Following up and getting more information about what you might be able to do differently next time is a great pathway to success.

Approach an organization about doing the project anyway
For those students with the drive to forge ahead without GSoC financial support, you may find that a community really is interested in your project anyway. Don't be afraid to approach your community, GSoC org admin or mentors you communicated with about future contribution.

Perhaps you can work on a smaller portion of your idea over a longer period of time on your own, or find another project better suited.

Some successful students have even found business sponsorship of their work later on.

"This story is about how after about one year and half I became a Linux Kernel Maintainer [of] the Bluetooth Subsystem. On the 2009's GSoC, I worked in important new feature in the kernel side of the Bluetooth stack. The work was too big and I wasn't able to finish it, then after some months a big company hired the company I worked with to have me finish that work. [Now] all work is merged in the Linux tree."
Gustavo Padovan, BlueZ, GSoC Studnet 2009, 2010 

Stay connected
If you've already invested time and energy getting to know a community, stay involved! Subscribe to relevant mailing lists, participate in IRC or fix small bugs that you have time for.

There are also many non-code ways you can contribute to software. If you're interested in documentation, graphic design, release testing, public relations or marketing, most projects welcome contributions in these areas. Taking on small non-code projects can be a great way to stay connected and build a reputation in a community.

Try a new organization
Maybe that project wasn't the right fit! Part of selecting a project is selecting a community that works with you. (Also see the chapter on "What does community mean")

"I had a look and approached many organizations, and finally decided to hook up with Sakai Foundation. The mentors and the people I interacted with from the community really encouraged me and I felt very comfortable with their coding practices [and] the programming languages."
Ashish Mittal, Sakai Foundation, GSoC Student 2010

Keep trying
Just keep trying. The next proposal just might be accepted...

"*Never* give up. It took me 3 years and 12 proposals to finally get into the program. If none of your proposals gets accepted, sit back and relax. You have a whole year ahead to improve your role with the open-source community by writing more code."
Kamran Khan, Ubuntu, GSoC Student 2010