In this post Paras shares his journey of Google Summer of Code, tips on getting in, benefits & much more .

So, recently I got a chance to connect with Paras Chadha, a member of the AirCTO Connect community to know about his GSoC (Google Summer of Code) journey.

Google Summer of Code is an international annual program for university students where Google awards stipends to the students. For India the stipend is 3000$, you can get more details here.

So, let’s get into the answers of the questions we asked Paras.

#1. Can you introduce yourself?

Paras -

Hey guys, I am Paras Chadha. I graduated in 2018 from Chandigarh College of Engineering  as a Computer Science Engineer. I am currently working as a software engineer for Smarter.Codes .

The company is build on the principles of Natural Language Understanding and utilizes Thought Vectors / Language vectors to understand context of the language.

How did you develop an interest for coding ?

Paras -

In my 8th standard I got a chance to learn basic HTML & CSS. I also created few web pages. Maths is my favourite subject so when I joined college, I would solve few maths problems using Python. I found this website online - Project Euler and fell in love with coding.

Later I started practicing on CodeChef and gradually developed a strong interest in coding.

How did you get to know about GSoC ?

Paras -

I knew about GSoC before college itself. My brother is also a GSoCer. Also, it’s a very popular competition run by Google for the past 15 years.

You can learn more - https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/

How did you approach and plan to crack this?

Paras -

I read a lot of articles written by other GSoCers. This really helped to execute my plan well. One common advice I got from everyone was to start early and not to wait for the last date of submissions.

I started working after the company list was finalised and posted on the GSoC website. I was looking for projects which used C/C++ only because I knew only that well.

Luckily I found an open source project by FFmpeg.

Did you have any strategy in mind before applying?  Any tips for the candidates who are thinking to apply?

Paras -

I didn't have any specific strategy. But here are few tips that I want to give other applicants.

1. As I told earlier, try to start as early as possible.

2. I would recommend you to start with small contributions (to the company you’re interested in). This can be a great way to show the company your skills. Most of the companies are repeated so you can be sure that they’ll be listed again as well.

3. Feel free to contact the mentor for any help. All evaluations are done by the mentor.

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How did it go? How was your experience ?

Paras -

My overall experience was great. I was able to learn a lot which is normally not taught in any college.

Things like -

- Writing clean code (a proper code design)
- Writing code with proper documentation
- I’d never worked in a live project so it was quite challenging to work on a actual process.
- Good coding practices

Paras Chadha 

What was your project and its objective? (elaborate on this) And how did you think of this project?

The goal of the project was to implement the FITS image encoder and decoder in FFmpeg codebase.

Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) is an open standard defining a digital file format useful for storage, transmission and processing of scientific and other images. FITS is the most commonly used digital file format in astronomy. It is designed specifically for scientific data and hence includes many provisions for describing photometric and spatial calibration information, together with image origin metadata.

Whereas, FFmpeg is the universal multimedia toolkit that offers a complete, cross-platform solution to record, convert, filter, and stream audio and video. It is used by a number of media players (including VLC and MXPlayer), video websites (including YouTube and Vimeo), web browsers (including Google Chrome/Chromium and Firefox), social media (including Facebook and Twitter) and countless other software projects in the multimedia field and beyond.

The main objectives of the project were:

  • To study the FITS file format thoroughly.
  • Implement the FITS image encoder and decoder in C so that FITS files can be read and written easily
  • To merge the encoder and decoder with FFmpeg codebase so that it can be used by people all over the world.

Languages & tools you used for this project?

Language - C

Tools - I remember I used fv FITS File Editor, to study fits files, see samples etc and GNU Image Manipulation Program to open RGB fits images.

Are you satisfied with the final outcome and how did you see the way you code ? Would you recommend to other developers?

I was very happy with the final outcome of the program. I think all college students should try to apply for the program. The experience helped me to code better professionally after college.  I was also able to learn about some coding practices that I wouldn’t learn otherwise.

I was fortunate to have been selected in the first attempt but I’d recommend students to try multiple times if they don’t go through the first time.

GSoC process 

What’s your advice to freshers who are interested in pursuing a career in development?

I would recommend the following -

- Try different programming languages to see which one interests you
- Internships is a great way to start learning professional coding
- Try to build problem solving skills, it's more important than being able to code
- Learn one programming language well before learning another one

Your future goals & aspirations

My main goal is to work on projects that impacts an individual’s life.

Conclusion

Hope you liked Paras’s journey of Google Summer of Code. There are a lot of takeaways from his interview.

If you want to connect with Paras, feel free to ping him on LinkedIn. Want to meet similar developers, feel free to join AirCTO Developer Community.

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