Rails Girls Summer of Code Roles

While the students are, of course, at the core of Rails Girls Summer of Code, there are plenty of different ways to get involved with the program to help bring more diversity into the Open Source world.

Whether you want to learn, teach, offer non-technical support to teams or support the program financially — there is a place for you and your skills in Rails Girls Summer of Code.

So if you’re new to Summer of Code and have no idea where you fit into the program, take a look at our list of roles. This should be a handy starting point to help you understand who does what, and where you might fit in based on your skill set.


Rails Girls Summer of Code centers around teams. A full team consists of a pair of students, two or more coaches and a project mentor.


Students are, of course, the main characters in this program. They work on Open Source projects full-time, from July to September, to expand their skill set and find their footing as coders. Every other role at Rails Girls Summer of Code is dedicated to supporting these students in completing their projects and generally having a great learning experience.

Students are the only people who will be remunerated if accepted into the program.


Coaches are experienced developers who work closely with the students. They help their students learn and accomplish their project tasks on a daily basis.

Ideally, students and coaches share the same office space. Some companies will allow employees to spend a predetermined amount of time on coaching during business hours.

Since coaching can take up a lot of time, coaches often team up and work in a roster to provide students with the best support possible. Coaches can also simultaneously be Mentors.

Coaches do not have to be experts on the team’s Open Source project, but they do need to

  • be able to support their student's learning process,
  • have the skills to understand the project and the mentor’s directions

Should a coach not be available to help with an issue, students can always reach out to a team of Remote Coaches.

Mentor / Project Maintainer

Mentors are experts on the Open Source project the team is working on. Ideally, they are the decision-makers behind the project or work closely with the decision-makers. They should be in a position to set general goals for the student project, give directions and provide feedback.

At the beginning of the program, Mentors help students design a roadmap for the project. They are available throughout the summer to review pull requests, help with concepts and generally support the team.

Since students are supported by coaches in their day-to-day work, the workload for mentors is limited. That said, mentors can also assume the role of a Coach themselves.

Support and Organization

These roles take care of running the program as a whole and make sure the teams progress as planned.

Remote Coach

Remote Coaches are available for help in a central Slack channel, which is open to all students. They assist participants when their team coaches are not available or when they need specific technical help (e.g. help figuring out an error).


Every team of Students, Coaches and Mentors will be assigned a Supervisor. Supervisors regularly touch base with their teams to see how everyone is doing and if there is anything the team needs help with.

Supervisors check up on the team’s work progress via the team log) and generally motivate them through the rough coding patches they will inevitably experience.
In rare cases, there may be a need to escalate issues to the organizer team, e.g. when a team has halted work completely.

A supervisor can be responsible for more than one team.


Organizers are a pretty multi-skilled group of people. They are developers, designers, content writers, community managers and business owners all volunteering their time. They keep the website up-and-running, sponsors rolling in, and keep everything working smoothly.

Organizers are the ones who answer your emails, select applicants, monitor the social feeds, contributing their unique skill set to an aspect of the organizational workload.


Without the financial support of generous donors, Rails Girls Summer of Code simply could not take place each year.


Sponsors make it possible for Rails Girls Summer of Code to create a paid program for participants. Sourced from all over the world, sponsors represent a wide cross-section of the tech industry. Their generous donations allow students to participate in the program and focus on learning — without having to worry about how they should keep paying their bills.

Sponsors receive a great deal of publicity and exposure as a result of the program but are not often directly involved in the projects themselves.

Coaching Companies

A Coaching Company hosts an entire student team for the duration of the program, providing them with office space and a supportive work environment. In addition, they allow their employees to coach the participants on company time. This role can be combined with the Sponsor role.


Our crowdfunding campaign is a vital part of Rails Girls Summer of Code. Your donation goes directly to participants and makes a big difference in regard to how many teams can be accepted into the program.

We have had many donations from individuals but this is also a good option for some companies who want to help out. If, for example, your company cannot sponsor an entire package they can still donate a smaller amount via the campaign. Every and any donation counts!