Google Code-in (GCI) is an annual programming competition hosted by Google that allows pre-university students to complete tasks specified by various, partnering open source organizations.**Wikipedia says so** but it’s way more than that, what I am going to share today is probably a different aspect of this competition.
I started off as me being completely unaware of what this thing is and trying hard to make a position in my organization to crack the coming GSOC to ultimately ending up being in the Google’s Mountain View office.Okay, let me slow down a bit 😛 It happened in November-16 when forms for applying to Google Code-In as a mentor came out in my organization-Systers.Out of curiosity I wanted to know more and hence pinged my senior who suggested me to go ahead with this opportunity which would nevertheless help in increasing my community involvement.The different aspect I mentioned before is that of being a mentor.
Many people don’t know about these opportunities where they can learn and give so much.The competition was yet to start but each assigned mentor for different projects was working really hard to prepare the tasks for the students.Finally the competition began and the queries/submissions started rolling in.The enthusiasm was absolutely a treat for everyone.Solving one’s query and making them comfortable with the tasks was my favourite part.The tricky part was to make these kids fall in love with what they were doing, constant encouragement and slight tricks here and there did wonders.
The whole phase was filled with stream of submissions with each kid trying to make as many submissions as possible.The competition finally came to an end with an embarking success.The only part left was deciding the winners.Every mentor who guided the tasks was asked for feedback and we finally came to the conclusion .Yeahhhh we got the winners and we all were super proud of everyone.
As a retreat, the grand prize winners along with one mentor from each organization got the opportunity to visit San Francisco.I hope this blog justifies to convey the efforts which Google infuses to encourage talent.
The day finally arrived when I was boarding my first international flight and was soon on-board.The feeling of being at Google headquarters in the next few hours was something very similar to conquering a dream you always dreamt of.
I was soon in the clouds of Bay area and managed to survive those 17 hours of travel.As I pen down, all those memories just bring a smile to my face.The very first day I managed to get away with my jet lag by sleeping for almost half a day and re-energizing myself for the official retreat starting the following day.The other part of day went in visiting all the nearby places in the Bay area along with a friend from another organization.
The idea of sunset at around 9 gave me more time to explore nearby places and the place looked no less than a heaven.
The following day I was going to meet all the other mentors and the awesome kids.The event was scheduled in the later part of the day which gave me some time to sneak around.Ed Cable from Mifos came to our rescue and took the responsibility of being a good host. He took us to the Fb and LinkedIn office where we met his friend Connie Yang and saw the awesome rooftop that Fb had. These offices and their culture was a treat to the eyes. More than the location I was glad to meet the people who were full of enthusiasm and passion for the work they do.
THE FIRST MEET
We wrapped up quickly and rushed straight to the Google San Francisco office which was the place of the event. I finally got to meet so many people including many whom I admired as well. The parents were super proud of their children and the enthusiasm in the air was commendable.It was the first time I was meeting so many people I knew virtually, in person. The rest of the day went in connecting dots on meeting people who knew another mutual friend and went like that. We got many goodies and an insight to Google advancements in various fields by several Googlers. We got a pool of stickers and were glad to have made to this point to be able to meet so awesome people.
MOUNTAIN VIEW HERE I COME
The next day was the most special day of my life as today I was living my dream, yeah I know it may sound cliche but who doesn’t want to end up at Google headquarters 😛 Their campus is undefined, for visitors like me visiting all of it in a day is next to impossible. The very first thing that caught my attention were the Google bicycles and the Noogler caps :xD
The rest of the day was filled with Google insights by the engineers along with their pretty cool internship experiences. They unravelled their stories of how they got into Google, for some it was quick but for others it did take some time. The idea that was conveyed after hearing so many inspiring folks was just this that focus on your work, try to find the area of your interest and you will end up in these tech giants one day or the other. We had experts from various fields who managed to create interest in almost every field they talked about. We had the prize distribution ceremony as well headed by Chris DiBona, Director of Open Source & Science Outreach.
FUN DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO
The trip had lots to add by each passing day. Each day turned out to be a memorable one.The next day was planned for our outing in San Francisco, we were heads up for roaming around the city. The group was given a choice of two fun activities, one was the Segway tour and the rest to Alcatraz Island, I picked up the island tour but heard that the segway was awesome too. It was difficult to keep track of time as both the activities were so engaging. The other part of the day was kept for the famous Golden gate bridge. This day bonded all of us more and we got to know pretty amazing facts about this place as well.
The trip finally came to an end with all of us taking so many experiences and making some awesome friends. The closing reception was another treat in terms of the Google insights along with the food as well (though nothing new, they were serving us so much food already). I managed to win an awesome book “Team Geek” along with several Google T-Shirts. The final session was kept for all the students and mentors to share their experiences,I too had so much to thank Google for, which I hope I managed with my short speech. I gained so much from this, watching closely the talented folks, realizing that everyone has the potential to make the best out of themselves and life is ultimately a journey, enjoy it while travelling.