Yash Solanki (EP)
Interned at GSoC (Google Summer of Code)
Domain: Improving the ‘Root’ Software for High Energy Physics
I am a current 3rd year EP student from Delhi. I interned in GSoC (Google Summer of Code) - a program by Google that allows students to contribute to open-source projects to help improve software developed by companies. I worked under CERN through GSoC, contributing to 'Root', a software that simulates High Energy Physics.
While using Root to perform simulations myself for a project under a professor, I realised some flaws with the software, which I communicated to the Professor. I went on to contribute to the ROOT and one of the maintainers recommended me to raise and solve these issues as part of GSoC since CERN happened to be one of the companies registered in GSoC. Furthermore, I have extensive development experience in C++, having taken several high-level courses in advanced C++. It helped me understand the codebase with relative ease.
I didn't apply for anything else. I only applied for GSoC since I knew the project I had requested to contribute to was a high-priority project for CERN. I wasn't sure whether I would get through, but I was excited by the opportunity to contribute to software that my department uses in academia. One of the coolest parts of the internship was when CERN invited me to give a small lecture on all the updates and new usage flows of Root to students from different institutions (including IITD) who had gone to CERN for their internships!
The internship experience was very fruitful. It was a 3-month long internship from May to September. The workload wasn't hefty and was manageable enough for an online internship. The deadlines weren't rigid and were mainly based on how much work I could manage in the given timeframe. Even the people conducting the internship were pretty helpful. Whatever issues I had (which mainly consisted of understanding and interpreting the codebase) were resolved swiftly through online communication channels with the mentor assigned to me on the project or through weekly progress/updates/doubt sessions that the company would conduct. Also, the technical proficiency I enjoyed with C++ helped me quickly adjust and adapt to the new codebase.
Advice to Juniors/Prereqs
There are no specific prerequisites for an internship like GSoC. It depends on the project you decide to take. If you would like to do GSoC, you should simply have some intermediate skills in a field of your choice. For example, if you would like to pick up an ML or analytics project, you only need decent technical proficiency in ML or data science. Simply choose one particular skill that interests you and excel at it. Then, choose a project at the intersection of your skill and interest, and you're all set to apply to GSoC!
Would you recommend GSoC to juniors?
Yes! I would recommend it. It's one of the best online internships you can come across. It's cost-effective as you don't need to pay for travel or anything. It helps develop your technical proficiency while still posing a decent challenge. The experience and stipend are very decent, and the workload is manageable. The application process is fairly competitive, but it's pretty manageable if you have technical proficiency and a straightforward project in mind.