Application Guide

Applications for Rails Girls Summer of Code will be open for 1 month starting March 13th, 2015!

This guide gives you all the information about what you will need when applying for Summer of Code. Please read this carefully to ensure you know about all the requirements of a good and complete application.

Who Is Eligible to Apply?

Applications to Rails Girls Summer of Code are open to anyone who:

  • Self-identifies as female and/or has experiences being socialized as female. No-one is excluded from applying on the basis of gender, but people who self-identify as female, or have experiences being socialized as female, are given preference during selection.
  • Has attended one or more workshops organized by and is involved in communities like Rails Girls, Railsbridge, Black Girls Code, PyLadies, or similar initiatives.
  • Has about a year (or more) experience of continuous learning, i.e. has significantly expanded their programming skills in a study group, or independently, by working on a suitable project. We will ask for coding examples.
  • Can spend 3 months (July to September 2015) working fulltime on their Open Source project of choice.

You do not have to be a student at a University to apply, and there are certainly no degree or age limitations.

How much is the scholarship?

The scholarship can be up to 1500 USD monthly. This will be based on where you live, how much your rent is, and special cirumstances. We will rely on information of the world bank regarding living costs and the details you give in your applications.

What Do You Need to Apply?

Another Student to Pair With

Finding a pair before lodging your application is required. Finding a pair in your geographic region is also preferable, and will be looked upon favorably during the selection process.

Remote teams will not be excluded, but their applications must be outstanding. If you are working in a remote team, you will need to provide exceptionally good evidence as to why you will make a good team. For example, if a remote team knows each other well and have already trained working remotely on an existing project, their application will be looked on more favorably.

Do not lodge your application until you have found your pair.

Make sure both you and your pair understand the requirements of the project, and could potentially work well together. There is nothing more detrimental to project success than an unhappy or unproductive team mate.

For more advice on finding a team mate and coach, take a look at the “How to Find Coaches and a Team Pair” article at the bottom of this page.


Coaches are developers who sit down with you, guide you through relevant coding steps and troubleshoot with you at regular intervals. Therefore, it is strongly advised that coaches are based in the same city.

From past experiences, we recommend a time of 1-2 hrs/day of coaching time. Therefore, we recommend a minimum of 2 coaches, so they can share their timely involvement and you and your team pair will have more flexible support.

Be specific about the days and hours when your coaches can help you. A roster of which coach will help on which days is favorable for your application. Discuss your project with your coaches and make sure they can support you.

Finding a coach in your geographic location is strongly advised. Better yet, being able to work with them in their office. Having someone to sit down and troubleshoot with will increase your odds of having a successful and enjoyable Summer of Code.

Coaches are volunteers, and cannot expect any financial reimbursement from RGSoC. However, they will find coaching a highly fulfilling practice with many insights into their own coding skills. For further information on coaching a Rails Girls Summer of Code team, please read our guide on coaching. It will help you in explaining the scope of involvement to potential coaches.

A Place to Work

Working at a desk next to your team pair and to your coaches is a great scenario. If you have access to a team of coaches who can share the load it is ideal. You will need an environment beneficial to dedicating yourself to your project for 3 months.

This could be your home, a co-working space, your current work office or a Coaching Company. As long as you are safe and productive, you can choose where you will work.

A Project Plan

In order to prepare a project plan, you will first need to choose an Open Source project to work on. You can find information in the section “How to Find a Project” below. It is vital for a project to have a mentor who is a central contributor/maintainer of that project and will assist in defining the issues to work on.

The mentor acts as an expert to consult on the project and gives general directions and feedback. Mentors are intimately knowledgeable about the open source project you intend to work on, while coaches are working closely with you and your pair. Mentors may even put forward ideas for teams to work on.

Next, make yourself known to the Open Source project and the current issues. A project plan can include anything that helps open source, like bug fixing, implementing small features, improving documentation, design, etc. The project shall allow a student to both apply her current skills and grow with the challenge. The learning target, and goal, of the project is to turn yourself - as an advanced beginner - into a core contributor of your selected Open Source project.

The ideal project should be:

  • considered a valuable, significant contribution to Open Source
  • simple enough that an advanced beginner will be able to complete it in a time frame of three months.

The project plan for the application should contain an end goal along with several subordinate goals and milestones that you and your team pair can use to track your progress against. The core of your project plan, however, shall be a concept of what you want to learn. Pick 2-3 current issues from your preferred project and tell us why you chose them (with regard to your skill level), explain the prospected working steps and what you expect to learn out of working on these issues.

One note on determining issues to work on: Especially in very active Open Source projects it is hardly possible to determine concrete issues that far ahead. Things will change in the time between the application and the actual Summer of Code. Therefore, we are interested in a specific time plan, but even more so in how you approach the aspect of choosing issues.

It is required to contact the mentor of the project as well as meet with your coaches and team pair to discuss what project you are looking to undertake. Meeting with your coaches is a great way to understand if your goals are realistic, and what your project plan will look like.

Together with you and your pair, coaches should be able to:

  • talk to you both about your level of your expertise,
  • make recommendations about Open Source projects that you can contribute to, and
  • help you create as detailed a project plan as possible for your 3-month SoC project.

If you are interested in more than one project, you can state alternative projects in your application. For alternative projects, it is also required to contact the respective mentor, discuss options with your coaches and outline a project plan as stated above.

How to Find Coaches and a Team Pair

The best starting point for finding a pair and coaches is to contact your local Rails Girls chapter, and development communities such as your local Ruby group. This will also be a good starting point for people in need of guidance on their projects.

If you have no luck, or live in an area where there is no Rails Girls chapter, ask on the Rails Girls Summer of Code community mailing list, or via @RailsGirlsSoC on Twitter.

If you already have a good project plan, and are looking for a coach, a team member, and/or a work space for you project, don’t lodge your application before you have found them. If you need help finding them, contact us before you apply, otherwise we will consider your application as it stands. Take a look at this blog post outlining some creative ways past teams have found coaches, mentors, and workplaces for the summer.

Finding a good pair to work with throughout the Summer of Code requires some thought as well. Rails Girls asks of supporters to be patient, tolerant and open people. We expect the same from our students.

In the process of teaming up, keep in mind that you will be working very closely during application time and during the 3 months of the program. There will be situations of stress and conflict. This is nothing bad, it happens. We strongly recommend though, to prepare for these situations by being open about yourself and offering self-reflective, constructive ways of communication - and to expect the same from your pair. We also recommend to establish regular and dedicated team reflection times where you can talk about how you work together, what went good and what went bad.

It might also be that your future pair has different skills. Talk about your skill levels and how to handle possible disparities. Or you or your pair might be in a personal condition or life situation which could have an impact on your work as a team. We strongly recommend to mention these to the extent you feel comfortable about it, so your pair can react considerately. Also, be aware that other people work differently or handle moments of stress in a different way than you do.

The same applies to your coaches. Already during application time, talk to them about how they communicate and how you can handle possible situations of stress and/or conflict as a team.

How to Find a Project

Don’t know where to start? We are collecting project proposals for 2015 in this repository.

Talk to your coaches and other people of your local Rails Girls community - they will have good ideas. You also can ask on the Rails Girls Summer of Code community mailing list, or via @RailsGirlsSoC on Twitter.

Also, here are last year’s teams and their projects, and some of last year’s project ideas. Here you find this year’s projects you can apply for.

If you know an Open Source project you might want to apply for, but has not yet been submitted by their mentor: Please reach out to the mentor and suggest they submit their project to us via the Projects Repository.

Lodging Your Application

Applications for Rails Girls Summer of Code will be open starting March 13th, 2015. Applications will close on April 14th, 2015, 23:59hrs UTC.

We will accept one application per team. You can apply for one project. In case you wish to apply for another, alternative project, you can do so within your application.

The application requires information on all the aspects mentioned in this Application Guide as well as information about yourself and your past learning experiences. Both you and your pair will enter these information separately.

It is now possible to save drafts of your application. Hence, you can start lodging your application and keep track of the state of your application in a central place.

Additionally, we require statements by your coaches and the mentor of your chosen project. These statements will be placed by the coaches and mentors themselves.

From your coaches, we will ask how much time they have to support you and a general assessment on why they think your team will be successful in working on your chosen project. The sign-off by the coaches can happen during draft-mode. That means, you are able to make further changes afterwards. However, be aware that the coaches’ statement needs to be done before you submit your application. We also strongly advise you to have your core project plan settled when your coaches will add their statements so they can make a realistic statement.

The sign-off by your mentor will happen after you have submitted your application. The mentor will automatically be notified. The RGSoC organizing team will then take care that all applications are signed-off by the respective mentors.

If you have any queries about this, please contact us.

Selection and Judging

Applications will be judged on a case-by-case basis by a group of real human beings in the coding community, on an impartial but realistic basis. We aim for a diverse group of teams for 2015 that consist of different countries, projects, backgrounds and skill levels (we have some seats reserved for more experienced teams this year).

Remember: Successful applications are not “first in best dressed”, but are judged on how well they fulfill eligibility criteria. Take your time to find your pair, coaches, a project and workspace or coaching company as well as create a detailed project plan.

Applications lodged after the deadline cannot be considered for judging.

Requirements During the Program

Along with this application guide, please also read about what will be asked of you to do over the summer next to diving into code. The Rails Girls Summer of Code focusses on students learning to code, but is also a community event.

During the Summer of Code we have the following requirements which students have to agree with and, in case of being selected, will sign for in a written agreement.

  • Participate full-time from July 1st to September 30th 2015.
  • Continuously work on the chosen and approved Open Source project.
  • Keep daily logs in the form of a todo list.
  • Use a Github repo for the team work (a private repo will be provided).
  • Keep regular contact to your supervisor and your mentor and abide to reaction times for communication.
  • Provide a Gmail and Twitter account for social and promotional events
  • Participate in non-coding related community events (e.g. the all-team chat, RGSoC social events).
  • Agree to have published team information on our website and blog (e.g. team introduction, team blog posts). This includes some form of visual material of yourself.
  • In case of participation in a conference where tickets are provided by RGSoC: Hold a lightning talk about your project work or write a blog post about the conference participation.

Rails Girls Summer of Code will assist and support you with any of these requirements. As a further insight on how to meet these requirements and setting up a good working environment, please read our article on “What to expect”, where we gathered suggestions and recommendations for students.

We strongly advise you to get acquainted with these requirements before and during application time. We will make sure the requirements are complied with and will take steps in case of breaches.

If you have any questions about the requirements, please contact us.

A Note on Volunteer Teams

As well as the funded teams, every year the Rails Girls Summer of Code also had a few selected volunteer teams. Volunteer teams are teams that participate in the program without monthly stipend. We expect them to adhere to the same guidelines as funded teams, but other than the stipend, they get the same amount of support from us and are involved in all the other social activities. Because of that, volunteer teams also have to be selected in order to participate; when you fill out your application, you have the possibility to select whether you want to participate as a funded team, a volunteer team, or both.

Before You Apply: The Checklist

Here is the basic checklist for your application:

  • Read this Application Guide carefully
  • Find a Pair
  • Find a Project
  • Find Coaches
  • Find a Workspace or Coaching Company
  • Agree with Requirements for Participating in the Program

All set? Then go! Start your application here: