Travis Foundation Statement

Posted on by Travis Foundation Team

The past few months have been a testing time for us all. As the global pandemic led to the cancellation of so many events and created new challenges for nonprofits, we remained steadfast that Rails Girls Summer of Code should go ahead as planned.

Despite this determination and the extra measures put in place to safeguard the program, we have been unable to gather the resources necessary to keep Travis Foundation running. Sadly, it will soon close its doors for good.

Without the team to manage the program, we regret that Rails Girls Summer of Code has also been cancelled.

Many of you will share our disappointment at this turn of events. Thanks to the incredible efforts of this awesome community, fully committed to increasing inclusion and diversity in open source, we have witnessed huge improvements over the past 7 years. While we see this as a genuine success, we know there is still much to do.

It is comforting to know that you - thousands of inspirational coders of all genders and backgrounds - will continue to advocate for diversity, challenge discrimination, and bring about societal change.

While Travis Foundation will no longer be an influential force in this movement, we step aside gracefully in the knowledge that new - and even more groundbreaking - initiatives and opportunities will certainly develop in its place.

Thank you for making the past 7 years so awesome! ❤️💛💚💙

Thank you to our supporters

Our appreciation goes out to all the individuals who have helped make RGSoC such a successful program. This includes all our sponsors and donors over the years who invested in the people who can create a better, more representative tech environment. We thank everyone who dedicated countless hours to assist in organising and planning RGSoC; each one an incredible role model for aspirational programmers, who deserve our genuine recognition and respect. 🙏

The applications received this year were of exceptional quality. We are grateful for the support that mentors have provided student teams over the past few months. With your help, coders new to FOSS have already made many valuable contributions. We hope that your project has genuinely benefitted from this process and that you have gained some life-long contributors along the way.

A special message to applicants

We were overwhelmed by the almost 600 people, from all around the world, who applied to RGSoC this season. That’s incredible! We have been moved by the passion shown by each of you.

It is important to reflect on everything you have achieved by applying to RGSoC. In the process, you’ve honed some super-valuable skills:

  • communication skills utilised in finding a teammate who compliments your technical ability and goals for the program
  • negotiation and decision-making in determining your choices as a team
  • time management, collaboration and learning new tools to write an application to the best of your ability
  • researching and having the guts to reach out to coaches, proposing your ideas to successfully encourage them to participate on your team
  • and of course, everything you have learned while delving into the codebases while contributing to open source projects

Rails Girls Summer of Code may end here, but your journey in tech shouldn’t have to. Please continue making contributions to open source projects. In this way, you will have a profound impact on some of the most pressing real-world problems faced by our generation. We genuinely look forward to seeing the difference you make.

How to keep coding during lockdown

Posted on by RGSoC Team


Regional responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have varied, but one common measure has been an enforced state of quarantine. In recent weeks, some of you have contacted us concerned about the difficulties this causes, particularly for mothers suddenly having to balance coding with childcare.

Here we compile a number of resources we have been sharing on social channels, found with thanks to members of the open source community and our contacts at Travis CI who know a lot about working remotely.

Useful guides

Rebecca Cox from The Mother Edit offers tips for single parents (also good for those sharing responsibilities) including how to create structure, boundaries, and downtime.

RGSoC aims to be family friendly with approaches similar to the policies outlined by Unicef, such as taking measures to avoid burnout and allowing flexibility with time commitments (more on this below).

As Kristen Hare notes, it isn’t always about compartmentalising home and work life or studies. Some kids can actually help by taking care of some household chores. Maybe including them in what you’re doing will keep them quiet or draw understanding and support from team- or workmates.

Take control of the situation with these tips on useful apps, preparing for meetings (or pair-programming), and finding a space where you can feel productive.

When all else fails, being creative may help you focus. From allocating uninterrupted time in the day to spend with the little ones to enlisting family members to act as ‘virtual babysitters’.

Support for RGSoC students

Remote working is essential to Rails Girls Summer of Code. For example, it is common for project maintainers to mentor teams from a different city or even continent.

In the past, RGSoC teammates have always been required to share a working space to aid their pair-programming experience. This year, we decided to relax this rule to make the program more inclusive to applicants who live in isolated communities, where finding a teammate can be difficult. Many students outlined a plan for remote pairing in their applications, and most teams we chat to during quarantine call us from separate locations - even if they are neighbours!

While the participating teams have yet to be finalised, it is likely some RGSoC students this year will themselves be mothers. So, what can we - and the teams - do to ensure this experience is fulfilling and manageable?


The scholarship enables students to focus on their projects for 3 months. Where possible, RGSoC will support childcare costs. However, we realise this is not an option for locations required to maintain social distancing.

Part-time teams

This year, 52% of applications opted to participate full-time. We will offer shortlisted applicants the chance to choose part-time before the program commences for students who need more time for their families.

Build connections

Networking is a fundamental element of the program. It’s all about building a future in tech, whether a basis for support, finding out about new meetups and conferences, or potential job opportunities.

Who knows what parents are going through better than other parents? This is why we will ensure the teams have opportunities to connect, such as with a dedicated Slack channel for mothers.

Find a schedule that works

With even part-time teams expected to put in 20 hours a week, RGSoC is a big commitment. Cooperation and communication are essential to success. While applying, many teams have already discussed their availability and schedules with their teams. Parents or not, successful applicants should reach out to their coaches and mentors again in June to reassess their work times. Split days, and early morning, evening and weekend participation may be possible, especially where teams span different timezones.

Talk to your supervisor

Okay, it’s a terrible name. But supervisors aren’t there to make sure you’re clocking in on time and pulling your weight. Far from it: as a self-led program, students are responsible for what they put in (and get out) of RGSoC.

Each team is assigned a supervisor to support non-tech issues. This includes asking after team members’ wellbeing, how they’re coping with the workload, etc. At any time, students can connect with their supervisor, who will endeavor to help with ad hoc issues.


We cannot foresee every eventuality. Even the best-laid plans can be derailed. One year ago, no one would have thought the news in 2020 would be filled with reports of a global pandemic.

There is rarely a one-size-fits-all answer. As such, we have consciously refrained from implementing too many measures specifically in response to lockdown. Instead, we will monitor the situation, talk to teams frequently, and determine what support we can possibly tailor to individuals’ needs.

Share your thoughts

Have you found other resources you think would be helpful to the RGSoC and wider open source communities? Maybe advice for parents, useful tools, code teaching materials/courses, or alternative funds to help with childcare costs.

Please post your links on social media and include the @RailsGirlsSoC handle on Twitter or mention us in your Facebook posts and we’ll share them.

If you have any suggestions for how we can support participants on RGSoC 2020, please email us.

Alumni Interview with Taneea Agrawaal

Posted on by RGSoC Team

We are proud to share our interview with RGSoC 2016 alumni Taneea, an Electronics and Communication graduate from IIIT-Delhi who now works as a Technical Analyst at Goldman Sachs in Bengaluru, India.

As a self-confessed geek, hacker, coder, and hardcore Artidote fan, Taneea likes nothing more than whiling away the day solving interesting problems, equipped with just a laptop, snacks and a cup of coffee. Leading local meetups for women in tech, and as a valued member of the 2020 Orga team, Taneea hopes to touch lives and make a difference to the world through her work and expression.

What first inspired you to get involved with programming?

A lot of my college curriculum was programming-heavy, so I had to write code for class assignments. However, I really started to love programming as a freshman; as the coordinator of LitSoc, the literary society at IIIT-Delhi, I wrote a python Facebook post scraper to declare the winners of an online competition. I had lots of fun writing the program and this script was the first one on my GitHub account. Soon, people were forking my script and we were using it for every online competition organized by LitSoc. After that, I started actively taking part in other developer communities and competitions to be a better programmer.

Did you always plan a career in tech?

I'm an electronics and communication engineer, so I always planned to have a career as a hardware engineer. However, during my time at IIIT Delhi, I realized I had a penchant for software programming and I was good at it. Throughout my undergrad, I took part in summer internships (RGSoC being the first) and took courses which helped me hone those skills and eventually land a technical role at a global firm.

What was your RGSoC project all about?

OpenFarm is a free and open database for farming and gardening knowledge. They provide a platform for expert and beginner farmers and gardeners to share their knowledge in the form of growing guides - structured, community-generated, single-author documents that describe how to grow a crop based on specific environmental conditions and growing practices.

Which skills did you find most useful during RGSoC?

The most important thing that RGSoC teaches you is the sense of community.

It is wonderful to be a part of something bigger than yourself and to interact with people with backgrounds different than your own. I had the opportunity to meet and work with mentors, coaches, supervisors, fellow scholars from across the globe; an experience that is unparalleled.

Because it is common to work with people in different timezones, you also learn the importance of teamwork, which is an extremely useful skill when working in an organization. Taking part in RGSoC, you grow not only as a programmer but as a person.

What challenges did you encounter during the program?

During our summer of code, one of our coaches told us that he couldn't coach us anymore because of his job. Since he was one of the two of our local coaches, we had to find a replacement for him to keep our place in the program. We immediately told our supervisor, Ramon, about the problem; he was very supportive, and even offered to help in finding a new coach for us. We reached out to our local network at the same time and found two new coaches, so all was hunky-dory!

What do you do in your current job role?

I am an analyst in the engineering division at Goldman Sachs in Bengaluru. Our team is responsible for maintaining, supporting and uplifting the firm's proprietary global Securities Database (SecDb).

My typical day involves designing and implementing features that are required to enhance the database, in addition to helping in the day-to-day operations. I am also involved with the firm's affinity networks - India Women in Engineering and Women's India Network - to drive further awareness through engagement and events.

How did your participation in RGSoC help you get to where you are today?

I knew I wanted to be a programmer before I took part in RGSoC but I wasn't confident about my programming skills. RGSoC helped transform me into the programmer I am today because of the different opportunities that were offered to me during and after the program - interaction with a global tech community, open source contribution, doing my bit to help improve diversity in tech. I not only became a better programmer but also gained a plethora of interpersonal skills that even benefit me in my current role at GS.

Do you still do any programming?

My current role is programming-heavy so I code in C++/Java almost every day.

Do you have any advice for new RGSoC students and for women and non-binary people who wish to work in tech?

A quote I've always lived by:

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” - Max DePree

I would want to tell anyone wanting to work in tech to believe in themselves and to just do it. Tech is a mixed bag with a lot of niche fields, which has something for everyone, so it's really not hard to get in at all. Be confident, and take the leap!

Supporting RGSoC students

More than 200 students have participated in Rails Girls Summer of Code so far. Please donate to the crowdfunding campaign and create more chances for coders like Taneea to get started in tech.

Breaking Down Barriers to Open Source Contributions

Posted on by Taneea Agrawaal

Hands up anyone reading this who has ever felt a pang of apprehension over contributing to an open source project. Quite a few of us. Despite the community being so welcoming and supportive, it can be daunting to get started with your first few pull requests.

Today, guest blogger and RGSoC Alumni Taneea shares the benefit of first-hand experience. Here, she provides encouraging nuggets of inspiration for anyone needing to put the doubts aside and explains how RGSoC can help you get started in FOSS.

If coding wasn’t your first choice, it’s okay to change

I first heard of RGSoC when a few of my college seniors participated in the program. I was a second-year Electronics and Communications engineering undergrad at the time, who was not very keen on designing circuit boards or wireless channels. However, some experimental dabbling in code for college assignments had sparked my interest in programming. So, when I heard about this program for open-source software, it piqued my interest.

I, along with my friend, applied for the program the next year (2016) and got selected! Needless to say, it has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

However, even today, when I interact with people about the program, I realize that there is a lot of inertia when people are asked to contribute to open source. The following are some tips to help you get started!

Where to start?

Possibly, the hardest problem to overcome is finding a project to contribute to. A lot of people I’ve spoken to have told me that they’ve never really been able to find projects that interest them, and when they do it’s hard to pick an issue to work on.

This is where RGSoC makes it super easy for you. They have a plethora of projects in a variety of programming languages and frameworks; the project pool has something for everyone - from front-end heavy projects to data analytic projects to full stack projects.

As RGSoC aspirants, me and my teammate opted for projects in programming languages and frameworks that we were familiar with or wanted to learn - Ruby on Rails, Javascript - and we were lucky to find a combination of both!

This diverse mix of open source projects is a deliberate attempt by the organizers so that the program can have maximum participation, and this year is no different! You can check out the various projects on RGSoC’s website.

Identify what’s holding you back...

Just finding a project you like might not be enough. Many people reach this stage but still never contribute. But why?

Possible reasons include but are not limited to code complexity in the project; a lot of my friends gave up because they couldn’t understand the code and couldn’t figure out which issues to start with. Other reasons might be lack of support and mentorship - who to reach out to in case you had doubts.

... and start coding anyway!

The easiest way to pick an issue is to familiarize yourself with the software you’re interested in contributing to, if you aren’t already familiar with it. Use the app, play around with it, know your software. This will give you functional knowledge about the application, and provide you with a region of interest - a starting point to dive into.

You can even start looking for low-hanging fruit in terms of open issues in the repository. Even if you think a button should be repositioned, or a particular UI aspect isn’t intuitive, or if certain functionality can be made better - raise an issue, talk to the maintainers of the repository through the appropriate channels.

Your first contribution might not be big but it’s a start, which is all you need. This will prove a catalyst for all your further interactions with the open source community and will help you push through the I-can’t-do-it barrier.

My very first PR was adding a button to the web interface of my project and that made all the difference. It was like breaking through an invisible wall and I was a more confident programmer after that experience.

More ways to get coding (and never want to stop)

Programs like RGSoC provide an excellent opportunity for you to:

  • code for three months
  • contribute to open source
  • be a part of a worldwide community
  • meet a new diverse group of people who share the same liking for code in different parts of the world
  • and get recognition for it
  • 💪🏼

RGSoC even allows you to blog about your experience.

No matter your background, tech or non-tech, everyone has something to offer to the OSS community. The Rails Girls Summer of Code program offers you a unique environment to foster growth and I’d like to conclude this article with a simple thought - Don’t hold back, and take the leap!

Taneea Agrawaal is a former RGSoC student (2016 edition) who has since gone on to work as a Technical Analyst at Goldman Sachs in Bengaluru, India and lead local meetups for women in tech.

Alumni Interview with Jessica Greene

Posted on by RGSoC Team

“My claim to fame is making coffee for the late Christopher Lee!”

Jessica Greene has been living in Berlin for 10 years. After five years in the film & television industry and a career in specialty coffee as a barista & roaster, she took the leap into coding and has since gone on to work as a backend-focused software engineer at Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees.

Even if making hot beverages for Saruman himself doesn’t impress you, the following interview detailing Jessica’s time working on the Nextcloud project during our last edition of RGSoC in 2018 is bound to.

What first inspired you to get involved with programming?

I consider myself a self-taught/community taught developer. After leaving my job at Barn Coffee Roasters in 2017 (and having some much needed time off!) I decided to start my path to becoming a programmer. I had done a very small amount of HTML and worked with flash animations during my art foundation at Leeds art college and my partner works in games and he was very supportive in encouraging me to try programming. I started with online courses, mainly focusing on web technology and then started to explore a couple of other languages such as Python and GO.

Did you always plan a career in tech?

Absolutely not! This is my third professional career and I have had a number of other work experiences. Changing careers is incredibly nerve-racking. I was fortunate to have a supportive partner and family as well as being able to gain support from the German government. At first, I thought it would be starting from scratch and that I had nothing to take with me from my past work but that couldn't be further from the truth!

Both my previous careers have fed into my current position, some in obvious ways such as time management/organisation, to the more abstract like documentation structure and production workflows.

What was your RGSoC project all about?

Nextcloud is an open source productivity platform, similar to Dropbox or Google Suite. It can be self-hosted and is focused on providing a private and secure platform where the user has control of who can access their files and where they are stored. It also has a number of apps such as a call app, calendar app, and documents app. We chose to work with the developer responsible for the contacts app which was being ported from Angular js and rebuilt using VUE.js.

Which skills did you find most useful during RGSoC?

The big difference between doing RGSoC over working on my own projects was the collaboration aspect, not only with my teammate Arati but also our coaches. We tried to implement some agile practices into our workflow such as stand-ups and review sessions. I found skills from my previous job as head of production at the Barn helped. Time management and self-organisation were key and luckily these were skills I could bring with me. Patience is also a big virtue for working as a programmer, perhaps especially as a junior.

What challenges did you encounter during the program?

There were a lot of things that had to be set up on our machines and working with different operating systems could be tricky at times!

At first, I did not have a partner for the RGSoC so I put a message in one of my local meetup groups. You have to work really closely with your partner during RGSoC and I was nervous about how this would be with someone I did not know previously.

In the end, I got on extremely well with my partner, Arati. We managed to strike a friendly and professional balance that supported both our individual personalities. We have remained close friends since the scholarship. Pairing with another programmer can be scary, you have to be prepared to be in a vulnerable place which can feel uncomfortable. However, the learning curve of when you work through a problem with another person is increased. Having to explain to each other what we had understood really helped cement our knowledge and we kept each other motivated. We didn't always pair but we had lots of check-ins with each other.

What do you do in your current job role?

At Ecosia I work in a team called Engagement, who focus on ways we can connect users to the impact their searches are having. This past year I have been building a service to allow users to sync their personal counter value across devices. The server is built in GO using GRPC to transfer information. It's been a great opportunity to learn more about the technology while building a brand new service. I really enjoy working with the team here, especially the other junior developer.

Having support within the company really motivates me to keep improving my skill set and I love hearing about the tree planting projects we are partnering with.

How did your participation in RGSoC help you get to where you are today?

Straight after the scholarship I started an internship at Ecosia (where I now work). Having the scholarship on my CV definitely helped prove I was capable of collaborative development work. Additionally, Ecosia was just moving their front end code over to VUE.js which I had spent the scholarship working in. Having built a support network via the scholarship through our coaches and my teammate Arati, I felt really confident and ready to start my first job.

Do you still do any programming?

Outside of programing at work I am involved in a couple of local community groups including PyLadies, Women Who GO and Open Source Diversity. I also have a couple of side projects for my personal learning. It’s definitely important to have a balance and I try to make sure I also have offline time where I can. Then I love to read, go to the sauna and go for walks.

Do you have any advice for new RGSoC students and for women and non-binary people who wish to work in tech?

Persevere! It is nerve-racking to get into any new industry and it is different for everyone. I recognise I have been extremely fortunate and privileged to live somewhere where there is a vivid tech industry with many companies looking to employ developers and many meetup groups to support underrepresented and marginalised groups. Community has been core to my success, not only the shared learning experience but also the power to stay motivated and keep going. I really recommend, be it online or in person, finding people in a similar place to you with whom you can share successes and frustrations.

Supporting RGSoC students

If you’ve been inspired by Jessica’s story and would like to help more beginner coders get started and bring more diversity to open source, you can donate to the RGSoC crowdfunding campaign. Every cent goes towards funding RGSoC student scholarships. And it’ll make you feel good, we promise.

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