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When do I need to fulfill participation requirements by?
The final drafts of the student proposals have to be submitted in early April, then the decision is announced mid April, and the project starts at the beginning of May. Interested students should get in touch with the organization of their choice as early as possible and flesh out ideas for the upcoming summer of code.
A tremendous learning experience. You are thrown into the middle of quite possibly enterprise level codebases, and are literally taught to navigate your way around the fundamental tools and methods that professional programmers use on a day to day basis. Not only are you obtaining new skills, but you are making yourself known in the community, networking with potential employers and if your college accepts such, completing credits for field study.
Mentor does an evaluation on you after having a “conference” with you, and decides how much work you've done, and whether you have met the passing requirements (typically taken straight from the project spec in the proposal you wrote)
Students create a tarball of the code they produced and send it to Google. This is mostly for tax and lawyer purposes, as they (sadly) don't have hundreds of code examining monkies to delve into and evaluate the quality of the students' code.
$4500 cold, hard cash straight from the Googleplex
The feeling, and assurance that you have helped out an open source software community in the best way possible, and learned invaluable concepts, met the best of the best, and really have a footing on career prospects for the future.