"Curiosity. That's the word"
(I have written this post from a third person perspective.)
As Wikipedia states - The Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is an annual program, first held from May to August 2005, in which Google awards stipends (of USD 5,500 i.e. approx. INR 3,30,000) to all students who successfully complete a requested free and open-source software coding project during the summer.
Over a thousand students get selected in GSoc every year from around the world to work on projects and code their summer with free and open source software organizations. And quite a lot of Indian students get selected. Upon being asked about his achievement and getting a chance to work with awesome developers Shashank replies with alacrity, "Its a relatively simple mix of curiousity, learning and hardwork."
Getting selected into GSoC is simple and difficult at the same time. One needs to have a sound knowledge and understanding of technologies, programming concepts and languages. "The beauty of being able to talk with a machine is fascinating. And for that you need to know how to program."
"Inspired by great developers and gadgets I knew how to program when I entered college but not until I started taking computer courses did I get serious about learning more about computers. While the curriculum covered only one computer course per semester this was certainly not enough. So I on my own digged deeper and started polishing my existing knowledge about making web applications."
"And It was during the first semester itself (in 2011) that the world's first MOOC (read: Massive Open Online Class) was kicked off by Stanford's Professor Sebastian Thrun on Artificial Intelligence. I was a part of that class. That is what I consider a changing point in my life.", he says.
What made the difference?
Marking his excerpt he elegantly tells, "Its like there's a red pill and a blue pill. And you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and continue to learn what's part of the curriculum, get good marks and pass with a degree. But I took the red pill and I've seen curiosity, knowledge and logic flowing all over. That's what makes great people. I learn everyday. I continue to take several online courses from both coursera and udacity. And it has expanded my mind about learning and helped me get better in programming too."
"Another pioneering event that motivated me to work harder was when I attended the 'Python Conference India 2013'(read: Pycon) during August '13 in Bangalore. And I got a chance to meet numerous awesome people who were working on creating even amazing products. It is by meeting all these smart people that I realized that life is all about building stuff which can bring a change in world and people's life."
"Thus I worked a little more and finally when GSoC came I applied and got in. And now that I am in, I have so much more to learn which is good. So a tip to others who want to excel: Don't just stick to your curriculum, Learn more."
And finally Shashank concludes his thoughts by notifying that here are only 3 things important in life:
Finding opportunuities - they look a lot like hardwork
Being smart - be really smart, and thoughful and generous
Building a life - Steve jobs said, 'Everything around us that we call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you. You can build your life where other people can live in. So build a life.' So getting to GSoC is fairly simple. Its about committing to learn and grow everyday that matters.
That's all Folks!