Being a mentor for Google Code-In 2019 by Kishan Takoordyal

Google Code-in is a contest designed to introduce pre-university students (ages 13-17) to open-source software development. Google selects various open-source organizations to participate in, each of which provides a list of tasks for students to choose from. These tasks range from making a simple pull request to change a line of code, designing a new banner image, improving documentation, or even building a new feature.

Students can work with multiple organizations but can only work on one task at a time. Once a task is approved or if a student fails to submit the required work, they can select a new task. The contest lasts about one and a half months, and at the end, organization admins (core members) designate the most significant contributors as finalists or winners. In the last edition of Google Code-in, each organization had four finalists and two winners. Students who complete at least three tasks receive a t-shirt, finalists get additional merchandise like hoodies or backpacks, and winners earn a trip to Google HQ in Mountain View, California, along with more merchandise.

Mentors are volunteers who review students’ tasks, leave comments, request additional work, and approve submissions. To be a mentor, one must be knowledgeable about the organization’s tools and values.

This time around, Kishan Takoordyal, Bagha Charuduth, and Kifah Meeran were three mentors from Mauritius. All three were past Google Code-in participants and had been finalists, with Kifah having been a winner. I mentored for OpenWISP, while the other two mentored for Drupal.

Personally, my experience as a Google Code-in mentor was fantastic! Despite other commitments, I managed to review tasks at least twice a day. Many submissions were impressive, showcasing the knowledge and skills of students much younger than me. I often smiled while reviewing tasks, either due to the high quality of work or the students’ politeness. There were instances of cheating or improper behavior, such as students getting angry when asked for more work, even after detailed explanations. Nevertheless, we maintained our composure, which was challenging at times.

Being a mentor and guiding students is a source of pride. Watching them learn, dedicate themselves to tasks, and achieve new heights is incredibly rewarding. Who knows? A student you mentor might become a future winner, mentor, or someone significant in the industry. Seeing our students succeed and knowing that we contributed to their journey and our organization’s progress brings a deep sense of accomplishment. I have no regrets about becoming a mentor and would gladly do it again if given the chance.

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