GSoC is basically an open source apprenticeship: students will be paid by Google to work under the guidance of mentors from an open source community. It's a really great opportunity to build new skills, make connections in your community, get experience working with a larger and often distributed team, learn, and, of course, get paid.
Students are expected to work around 30+ hours a week on their GSoC project, over the course of the 3 month program. This is essentially a full-time job. Ideally, you should not attempt to do another internship, job, or full-time schooling while you're doing GSoC.
To apply, you need to take a look at the mentoring organizations and the ideas that they are willing to sponsor. Typically, you'll choose one of their ideas and work with a mentor to create a project proposal that's good for both you and your chosen open source community. Sometimes, projects are open to new ideas from students, but if you propose something new make especially sure that you work with a mentor to make sure it's a good fit for your community. Unsolicited, undiscussed ideas are less likely to get accepted.
Note that Python is an "umbrella organization" which means that our team is actually a group of python projects that work together to do Google Summer of Code. If you're going to apply with us, you'll need to choose from one of those teams, because that defines which mentors will be helping you with your applications. Applications without any sub-org and mentor to evaluate them will be rejected. You can work with more than one sub-org while you're figuring out what you want to do.
Once you've narrowed it down to a project idea or two, use the application checklist to prepare your project proposal. (You can submit up to three proposals, but will only be offered one position if accepted.)
All applications are must be sent through the Google system.
Google intends this to be a way for new contributors to join the world of open source. The students most likely to be selected are those who are engaged with the community and hoping to continue their involvement for more than just a few months. It's more important to be a good community member than it is to be a good coder, for most projects!
Read the instructions. A large number of students don't read the instructions when submitting proposals, and their applications get rejected. For example, every year we reject a number of students who submitted a resume, scientific paper, presentation or other file that doesn't contain any information about the project they would like to complete. Sometimes we get dozens of nearly identical form letters from a single university that wind up marked as spam. Don't do this!
Listen and use feedback from others. Every year, we reject a few students who simply wouldn't listen to their mentors. Remember: the mentors are using their interactions with you to figure out if it's worth their volunteer time to work with you. No one wants to have an intern who doesn't listen, and students who don't listen also don't produce code that the open source project can use, so students who don't listen don't get hired. Nor do students who are arrogant jerks, or who violate the Code of Conduct. Be professional and show that you will take the mentoring relationship seriously.
Here's some resources so you can read up more on how to be an awesome student:
- The GSoC student Guide -- This is a guide written by mentors and former students. It covers many questions that most students ask us. Please read it before asking any questions on the mailing list or IRC if you can! New students in particular might want to read the section Am I Good Enough?
- Google's list of resources -- Note especially the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) which does in fact answer 99% of the questions we get on the main GSoC IRC channel.