Where to Start With Rails Girls Summer of Code

Posted on by Tam

Categories: blog and tips and tricks

The second annual Rails Girls Summer of Code is just around the corner! As a potential applicant, you’re probably wondering what makes a good project, workspace, coach/mentor, as well as how to find all these seemingly elusive necessities. We’ve just published this new, shiny Application guide here but we also had Tam Eastley (former Team Highway to Rails member, and 2014 Organizer) put together this post for you with some successful examples from 2013.


RGSoC 2013 had teams from all around the world working on a number of exciting open source projects, with each team tackling their challenges in different ways. Here a few examples to whet your appetites:

Team Species+ made a beautiful interactive app for displaying CITES protected animals in Poland using the Species+ API. Their recap video was featured in our last blog post, here.

Team Spree contributed to Spree, an e-commerce application. They spent a large portion of their time learning Ruby on Rails, which enabled them to implement their small Spree feature towards the end of the summer.

Team Punchgirls created on an open source job-board from scratch complete with twitter and github integration.

Team Inchworms worked on Sinatra, a library for serving HTTP from your Ruby program. It is simple, flexible, and mature. They worked alongside Sinatra maintainer Konstantin Haase, who also acted as their mentor.

Team Bundler worked on Bundler, one of the community’s most widely used gems. They made the documentation easier to access and to read. As the summer progressed, they also worked on small features and fixes as they popped up.

Team Dysania worked on Discourse, a Rails forum software. They focused on extracting oneboxing, a feature of Discourse, into a gem.

The New Rosies contributed to Conductor, a Web-UI for assisting in the development of Rails apps. They decided upon the project after seeing it on the 2013 Rails Girls Summer of Code project ideas page.

Working Space

The ideal working space has the right number of desks, is close to your coach and/or mentor, has a strong internet connection, and is (in a perfect world) free to use. You’ll be happy to hear that this is not as hard to find as one might think, and many companies are excited about having learners within their midst.

When it came to somewhere to work, Team Species+ simply asked Hackerspace Kraków if they could use their space, and they said “ok”. It’s just that easy!

Team Highway to Rails worked in the offices of Absolventa, where our two coaches and mentor were based. We were supplied with computers and sat within the development team of seven people who were always on hand to help.

The New Rosies worked at their University and met with their coaches and mentor on weekends.

SoundCloud hosted two sponsored teams and one volunteer team in their offices last summer. The teams had desk space, daily access to coaches, and were surrounded by numerous excited programmers who were eager to hold workshops, host book-clubs, and chat over a free lunch. Yeah, we know… Pretty sweet ;)

Team Punchgirls worked from home, and met up with their coaches a few days a week in cafes around Buenos Aires.

As you can see each team found a different solution, dependant upon their needs and location. The main thing they all have in common, is that all were proactive about finding the best solution they could.


For a newbie to the world of programming, approaching someone you look up to and asking them to guide you through three months of intense learning during the summer, can feel like a daunting task. But fear not! There are lots of programmers out there who love teaching and who will jump at the chance to change someone’s life. Go ahead! Ask! We dare you.

Team Species+ found their coach through WebMuses, a women empowered IT community in Poland, of which the team is a part.

Team Inchworms approached the coaches of their local Rails Girls project group.

The New Rosies found their coaches and mentor via their local Ruby community.

Team Spree put out a call on the Spree google group and were met with support, ideas, and enthusiasm from the community.

Team Punchgirls found their coaches from the Rubysur community. They started with a mentor, who suggested a coach, who then brought another on board.

My team-member from Team Highway to Rails approached her co-workers. She found coaches who were excited about teaching, and passionate about helping women succeed in the field of web development.

We hope these examples take away some of the intimidation of getting started on your SoC application process, and highlight how there is no one way to go about sourcing your team, coaches and working space. Now get out there, approach some developers, and find a project you’re excited out! We’re all excited to hear what you come up with.

To see a full list of teams and projects from 2013, check out last years Team App.