Application Guide for Students

This guide gives you all the information you need when applying for Rails Girls Summer of Code. Please read this carefully to familiarise yourself with what makes a good and complete application.

When does RGSoC take place?

A RGSoC season runs for a full three months, between the first working weekday in July and the last one in September. In 2020, this is 01 July-30 September.

Who is eligible to participate?

Our goal is to support and encourage underrepresented people in open source.

All people with non-binary gender identities or who identify as female (transgender or cisgender) are welcome to apply.

Further to this, we look for applicants:

  • who are involved with, or have attended one or more workshops organized by communities like Rails Girls, Railsbridge, Black Girls Code, PyLadies, or similar initiatives
  • with at least a year’s experience of continuous learning, i.e. people who have significantly expanded their programming skills in a study group, or independently, by working on a suitable project. We will ask for coding examples
  • who can spend 3 months (July, August and September) working full- or part-time on their Open Source project of choice
  • who are proficient (spoken and written) in English. You will be communicating with several people from different countries, writing daily logs and blog posts, and English is our common language of communication
  • who have never participated in our program as a sponsored team before

You do not have to be a University student or graduate to apply. We expect most applicants will be aged 18 or over but there is no upper age limit.

The definition of full-time is for student teams to work roughly 40 hours on their projects each week. Part-time teams would commit about half that, at 20 hours a week, but would be a little more flexible depending on the jobs involved in the project, their availability and other responsibilities.

How much is the scholarship?

The scholarship will be based on where you live, your set expenses, and any special circumstances you wish to share with us for consideration when you submit your application.

What you need to apply

A teammate

A team requires 2 students working from the same city, so you’ll need to find someone to pair with before submitting your application.

It is important that you can work well together. You will be working very closely for three months, planning team goals together, and the first line of support for one another.

For further information on finding a teammate we have prepared a detailed guide for you.


Coaches are developers who sit down with you, guide you through relevant coding steps and troubleshoot with you at regular intervals. Ideally they are based in the same city as your team.

We recommend 4-8 hours per week of coaching time. This requires a minimum of 2 coaches so they can share the time commitment, and provide you and your teammate with more flexible support.

Our guide for coaches will help to give you insight on what is required of them, and help you to explain this to prospective coaches. For further information on how to find coaches, we have also prepared a a detailed guide.

A place to work

You will need an environment suitable for working on your project for 3 months. This could be your home, a co-working space, your current work office or a coaching company. As long as you are safe and productive, you can choose where you will work.

If you’re not able to find a coaching company or coworking space, universities can also be a good option.

Working at a desk next to your teammate and coaches is beneficial. Having access to a team of coaches who can share the load is ideal.

The ability to self-manage and motivate

This is a very important point. You will have time with your coaches each week but, as the program is self-guided, there will not be someone telling you what to do for the entire duration of the project.

As a team, you will be required to define your goals for the program, and plan together how you will meet these goals. We are always here to help you with this planning, but it’s up to you to stick to your plan and achieve your goals.

A project

You must select a project from the list of those approved for RGSoC 2020. This will be published in February.

Due to the wonderful variety of interesting Open Source projects, it may be tricky to know how to proceed. Why not ask your prospective coaches or any familiar with your coding experience for their input what they feel would be suitable?

When you’ve decided, we recommend you contact the project mentor to introduce yourself. It’s also a chance to see whether they it would be a good fit for you.

Placing your application

Don’t rush your application. Take your time to find your teammate, coaches, and to choose the most suitable project for your team.

At the bottom of this guide you will find a checklist to make sure that you have everything you need to submit a complete application.

Before applying, you need to create a team:

  1. go to the Teams page
  2. click on “New Team”
  3. add your team members (teammate and coaches)
  4. save your team
  5. clicking “Apply now” in the navigation to visit the application form.

For your application to be valid, you need at least 2 confirmed coaches on your team. When you have found coaches, add them to your team as follows:

  • Click "Add a Member" on your team page in the Teams App
  • Add your coach's GitHub handle and choose "coach" for the role
  • Save

The application form is split into three sections, where you will be asked:

  1. questions about yourself, your experience with coding so far, and other information that is relevant to our decision-making process. You and your teammate will fill in this information separately
  2. to select your chosen (and second choice) project from a drop-down menu
  3. about your team setup. Do this together as a team

Second choice of project is not mandatory but useful in case we cannot offer you your first choice.

During your application, you will have the option to select whether you are applying as a full- or part-time student, or both. Both are subject to the same selection process and adhere to the same guidelines. If selected, part-time teams receive the same support and opportunities but the monthly stipend reflects the difference in project working hours.

It is possible to save drafts of your application and continue with it later. However, once your application is submitted, it won’t be possible to edit or delete it.

We’d recommend team members not to fill out the application form at the same time, as this can result in loss of data.

If you have any queries about the application process, please send us an email.

Please note, applications sent after the deadline cannot be considered for judging.

Contributions before July

RGSoC is all about community. Students develop as coders with the support of a network (mentor, coaches, supervisor, etc.). As such, you do not need to start contributing before July. In fact, many RGSoC applicants will only have the opportunity to contribute during the planned 3 month period (July-September) when awarded a scholarship.

Some project mentors may give you a chance to contribute early to get a sense of the codebase. However, this is not a requirement. Many RGSoC mentors actually prefer to wait until a team is assigned to their project before making a roadmap, assigning tasks, and starting contributions.

Before asking a mentor about contributing early, please check if they have already given details or answered a question about it in the project details or comments in the Teams App.

Selection and judging

Successful applications are judged on how well they fulfill eligibility criteria.

Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by a group of people in the coding community. We aim to celebrate diversity by selecting teams consisting of different countries, projects, backgrounds and skill levels.

The following factors can also strengthen your application:

  • Community involvement - this is important. The more you are involved, the better.
  • Experience - show us you have a background in programming and working in a team. We don’t expect you to be an expert, but knowledge of some basic concepts and practices is an advantage.
  • Concise code examples - the best-case scenario is linking to a completed coding challenge provided by your mentor (if provided). Links to good and somewhat laconic examples of code written by you are a good option, too.
  • Prior accomplishments - ever built something cool? Proud of your achievements? Made something small but functioning for fun? Tell us. Your ability to work and achieve matters.
  • Strong local support - while we don’t require you to have local coaches, having support on-hand makes your team stronger and your 3 months more productive. However, we understand that not all locations make it easy to find local coaches. If this is the case for you, please tell us as we’ll take this into account in the reviewing stage.
  • Choice of project - we can often only assign one team to each project. The more teams that choose the same project, the stiffer the competition may be. You can see how many teams applied to which projects here and we recommend you select a second choice.

Requirements during the program

RGSoC focuses on students learning to code but is also a community event. Along with this application guide, please also read about what will be asked of you during the program.

Students have to agree with the following requirements and, in case of being selected, must sign a written agreement:

  • Participate full-time (40 hours per week) or part-time (roughly 20 hours per week) from 01 July to 30 September 2020
  • Continuously work on the chosen and approved Open Source project
  • Keep track of your work with a short, daily summary
  • Keep regular contact with your supervisor and mentor
  • Abide by rules for reaction times for communication
  • Provide an email address and Twitter account (handle) for social and promotional events
  • Participate in non-coding related RGSoC community events (e.g. the all-team chat)
  • Agree to team information being published on the RGSoC website, blog and social media channels (e.g. team introduction, team blog posts, project updates)
  • Provide and allow publication of a form of visual representation (photograph) of yourself
  • In case of participation in a conference where tickets are provided by RGSoC: Hold a lightning talk about your project and/or write a blog post about the conference.

Where possible, Rails Girls Summer of Code will assist and support you with any of these requirements.

For further insight on this or for setting up a good working environment, please read “What to expect”, where we gathered suggestions and recommendations for students. We strongly advise you to get acquainted with these requirements before making an application. We will make sure they are complied with and will take steps in case of breaches.

If you have any questions about the above list, please send us an email.

Before you apply: the checklist

Here is a basic checklist for your application:

  • Have you read, and fully understood, this guide?
  • Can you commit to working on your project full- or part-time for 3 months (July-Sept)?
  • Have you found a teammate?
  • Has your team selected a project?
  • Have you gotten in touch with the mentor of the project you have selected?
  • Has your team found at least two coaches who will commit to helping you?
  • Has your team found a suitable workspace for the duration of the program?
  • Do you agree with and meet all of the requirements listed above?

If you can answer “yes” to all these questions, you’re ready to apply.

Submit your application

Create your application at

If you need help setting up your application, go to the “Help” Section on our Teams page.

Still got questions?

That’s okay. Just send us an email.