How GSoC Works
Google Summer of Code moves in phases after you are accepted. The first phase is the Community Bonding Period in which you get to know your community and get familiar with their code base and work style. The Google Summer of Code administrators take this time to get payment cards printed and then make up packages to ship to you. The next phase is the initial phase of coding which is evaluated with a midterm evaluation a little more than halfway through the Google Summer of Code term. The final phase is your time to complete your project. There will be a second evaluation at the end of the term; you will also need to submit a sample of the code you produced. This is posted on code.google.com and associated with your mentoring organization.
Your introductory package will include some goodies for you as well as your payment card for the year. You will need to activate the card in order to get the money from it throughout the term. The packages are individually shipped around the world and should arrive right around the start of coding for the term.
Evaluations are not as daunting as they may sound. This is an opportunity for you to evaluate your mentor and your mentor to evaluate you, not a quiz on your coding abilities. Some mentors even choose to review their evaluations afterward with the student in order to integrate the feedback into the coding process for the rest of the term. Be honest about your experiences with the program. This helps GSoC improve in future years.
Payment is in three pieces, comprising 10% of the overall stipend, 45% of the stipend, and 45% of the stipend. The first payment of approximately 10% of the overall stipend is a "welcome to the program" payment that comes when your payment card is first activated. The second and final payments are sent to your card after Google has received a notification that you have passed your evaluation for that cycle. All of these payments take a few business days to become active on your card.
T-shirt and Certificate
You get a t-shirt and a certificate of completion at the end of the year. The program administrators again have to ship each individual package to your house, so please be patient. Mail systems are particularly hard to navigate if you live in a place like India or Brazil. Most of these packages arrive about 1 month after the end of coding.
The rest of your experience with the program will be determined by your interactions with the community within your mentoring organization. Most students consider the interactions with their mentor and the rest of the open source community they're involved with to be the most important part of the Google Summer of Code experience.
There are four roles in the Google Summer of Code program:
This is you! A student participant in GSoC is typically a college or university student; the only academic requirement is that the accepted applicants be enrolled in an accredited academic institution. Students must be at least 18 years of age to participate. Students come from a variety of academic backgrounds, and though most students are enrolled in a Computer Science program there is no requirement that they be studying CS. Past students have come from disciplines as varied as Ecology, Medicine, and Music.
Org admins are the "cat herders" for GSoC open source projects. Some org admins also mentor students during GSoC. Org admins are the final authority about matters such as which student projects will be accepted and who will mentor whom. If you're having difficulties communicating with your mentor or making progress, an org admin can help.
Mentors are people from the community who volunteer to work with a student. Mentors provide guidance such as pointers to useful documentation, code reviews, etc. In addition to providing students with feedback and pointers, a mentor acts as an ambassador to help student contributors integrate into their project's community.
Program administrators are employees of Google's Open Source Programs Office who run the program. These folks do a variety of tasks: select the participating open source projects each year, create and analyze the program evaluations, administer the program mailing lists, ensure that participants are paid, and send out the all-important program t-shirt. Program administrators do not select which student proposals are accepted into Google Summer of Code.
It is a goal of Google Summer of Code that the student participants stick around long after the program has ended and continue contributing to their project communities. Great mentors continue working with their students and encourage them to do so. In the end, mentors and students take a well-deserved break before the GSoC cycle starts again.