Becoming a Project Mentor

Project Mentors are vital at Rails Girls Summer of Code, as they are the experts on the Open Source project the team is working on and generally the ones to suggest a project for the program.

Ideally, they are the decision-makers for the project or work closely with the decision-makers. The Project Mentor designs the roadmap for the project, gives directions and provides feedback throughout the program. In their day-to-day work students will be supported by coaches, so the workload for project mentors is limited.

Do you work on OSS and would like to support women and non-binary people as they work on your open source project for three months? RGSoC is a remote and distributed program, so you can get involved from anywhere, as long as you have access to the internet. We welcome project submissions in any programming language.

If you want to submit your project, please have a look at the following guidelines for Project Mentors and project submissions.

Note: This year’s program will look a little different as we focus on our rebranding. For this reason, we will not have any sponsored teams, but we’re still committed to connecting volunteers who want to work on open source through our network and social media. If you’re interested in submitting your project, you can do so here. You can also spread the word by mentioning us on Twitter (@RailsGirlsSoC); we’ll retweet and help you connect with prospective students. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us by email if you have any questions!

What is a good project?

A good Open Source project to propose for RGSoC:

  • has at least one open-source license (dual, OS/commercial licenses are usually ok but will be looked at on a case-by-case basis),
  • is established enough to allow collaboration (beyond the set-up phase),
  • has a dedicated contact person/maintainer,
  • is beginner/junior-friendly (open to newcomers; maintains an inviting, helpful and understanding communication and a non-discriminating environment; etc.),
  • can abide by the rules of our Code of Conduct (having your own Code of Conduct or similar guidelines for your project is highly encouraged),
  • has to provide a mentor who will act as an expert in the project’s domain.

What does a good mentor do?

A mentor is a maintainer of the proposed project (or a core-contributor) and is the dedicated contact person for the team throughout the program.

Mentors are patient, tolerant and open people. You care about diversity and making Open Source projects more accessible to newcomers. Ideally, you are already familiar with the Rails Girls movement or other newcomer initiatives.

RGSoC teams are varied, but in general, a good mentor is one that is approachable and stays on top of the students’ progress. Some student teams will reach out to their mentor often, others will do so only when truly stuck. It’s important to get a feel for when it is time to check in with the students and see if there is a way you can help.

Being a mentor entails:

  • Providing guidance and feedback concerning your project throughout the program
  • Helping prospective students apply for the program by suggesting and discussing issues or features for them to work on
  • Being in contact with the student team throughout the program
  • following the rules of our Code of Conduct

How much time does being a project mentor take?

Every team and project is different with regard to the hours of work put in. But in general you can expect the following:

  • It’ll take some time for you to to get acquainted with the program, the organizers and the core team (onboarding).
  • You’ll invest some time at the beginning of the project to help your team get set up. Especially for more challenging projects, this can take quite a bit of time.
  • You should be available via email and chat from July 1st to September 30th (or for the period the team decides to participate).
  • Over the course of the program, you’ll spend about 1–3 hours per week answering student questions and emails.
  • Twice a month you will be expected to participate in a call which takes approximately 1h.

Why should I submit my project?

By submitting your project for Rails Girls Summer of Code you are allowing your project to become part of a worldwide movement that encourages more diversity in Open Source.
Furthermore, you will get:

  • Diverse feedback, e.g. suggestions on important/missing features, documentation improvements, a fresh outlook on your project
  • The possibility to tackle time-consuming issues that you usually don’t get around to, e.g. implementation of new features
  • More visibility within the community
  • New contributors who might want to stick around after the program
  • All in all: the chance to develop a sustainable Open Source project

How do I submit my project?

Project mentors can submit their projects using our Teams App. We’ve set the deadline for this year’s program to April 22nd, 2019 (23:59:00 UTC) to give us some time to look at the submissions and publish a comprehensive list of projects.

  • Sign up for the Teams App;
  • you will need to authenticate with GitHub.
  • Click on “Submit your project” under “Summer of Code” in the navigation bar.
  • By default, we assume the submitter is also the primary mentor. If that isn’t the case, enter the name of the primary Mentor, as well as their email address and GitHub handle.
  • Add the project’s name, website, repo and a description: what the project is about, what stage it’s at, and a few words about the team behind it. If your project has additional project coaches to help the students during the program, the project description is where you can add their information.
  • For the purpose of this year’s program and to make sure prospective participants can get in touch with you, please add your preferred contact information (e.g. an email address) to the project’s description.
  • Add features and tasks: outline how you image the students to contribute, features you’re planning to work on, issues that need help.
  • Add requirements: describe skills and experience students should bring to work on the project, e.g.
    • Provide a small example or coding challenge for students to solve up front.
    • Add links to online courses or katas students should be confident with.
    • Frame possible features students could work on.
    • Or just ask the students to contact you for more information about requirements.
  • Add keywords: this can mean a language, like “Python”, a framework like “React”, but also specific technologies or concepts.
  • Add the name of your license in the “license” field.
  • You can flag your project as “suitable for beginners” by using the available checkbox.
  • Click Submit!

On the “All Projects” page, you can view all submitted projects and their status (proposed, accepted, rejected) as well as edit or delete your own submission. After submitting your project, it’s likely that one of the organizers will offer feedback or ask questions. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these!

I'd like to submit my project, but what if I have no time to be a mentor?

For a project to be considered for the program, the students must have someone they can rely on to answer their project-specific questions. As such, we feel that a core contributor of the project fits this role of “project mentor” best.

However, we understand that the maintainers of some established projects have busy schedules; which is why we encourage you to ask the community for help. If there are other regular and motivated contributors to your project who you think fit the profile of a good mentor and whom you trust to be experts on the subject, please ask them if they would be interested in being project mentors.

If that doesn’t work, do get in touch with us directly — maybe we can find a solution together.

If you have any further questions, drop us a line at