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Google Summer of Code 2012 Mentor Summit #1
Group Photo by Robin Smidsrød

Three hundred open source enthusiasts, the San Francisco sun, Android statues and loads of idea sharing. That's the mixture which made the Google Summer of Code Summit 2012 such an amazing event. As a participating organization in the preceding open source internship programme, SilverStripe was invited to join the two day conference. Ingo Schommer represented the org admins and Philipp Krenn this year's mentors. 

Once you get over the amazing playground that is the Google campus, the first thing to notice is the huge and humbling variety of projects. Radiation simulations at CERN, fluid dynamics in JavaScript, open source role playing games, Linux packages, all the way to our beloved content management system. In terms of our PHP neighbourhood, the summit was also attended by Drupal, Joomla!, phpBB, MoinMoin, Mediawiki and phpMyAdmin (see full attendee list).

Apart from a lot of tech talk in the breaks, the focus of the event was to make the next GSoC even more awesome. We learned how to better deal with disappearing students (get phone numbers!), and how larger umbrella organizations deal with integrating their students into the community. Not an easy task, given the size of a project like Gnome or Debian, which had over two dozen students each. Given the timezone and location challenges, we've heard lots of good things about keeping students engaged on IRC, as well as bridging the async communication gap via tools like Google Hangout, where its easy to leave messages, but also switch to video calls when required.

One crucial theme throughout sessions was the student selection process. Realistically vetting students for the tasks at hand, as well as pairing them with the right mentors can be daunting, but is also one of the most rewarding experiences once ideas start flying around, and stuff gets done. One tip we took from more experienced organizations was to require students to post their proposals publically, which ensures they are willing to engage with the community (and ask for help), as well as having the right communication skills which is particularly important for remote workers. If you're interested, check out the full session notes.

All in all, the event helped SilverStripe to become a better citizen in the GSoC universe, and will benefit us should we have the fortune to be part of it again.