GSoC Mentor Expectations
GSoC is primarialy a mentorship program, and we take the responsibilities implied by that seriously. Towards that end, here are some of the expectations we have of our mentors. If you would like to work with us in GSoC as a mentor, you should be comfortable with these. We've had very good experiences here for the past two years, and this is mostly in the interest of making things a bit more formal (in the sense of "official", not "stuffy").
- Qualifications: Generally speaking, mentors are expected to be known members of the community who've demonstrated an ability to work colaboratively with others, as well as a good command of the ideas and technology involved. Note that mentors sign up for a general "pool" at first, but will only be assigned to specific projects they're interested in (you are not expected to be a master of everything in computer science!).
- Mentors are expected to be in regular contact with their students. In this context "regular" should probably mean every other workday or so, but this contact needn't be particularly involved. The objective here is simply to ensure the student's actively engaged on an ongoing basis, and a set of diffs or such would be plenty. The mentor should feel free to determine the form of this communication, as long as it's sufficient to ensure the student's actively engaged.
- Mentors may roll that communication up into regular, public updates by their students. If students are posting code to a public repository (with notifications) as often as they'd otherwise be mailing diffs to their mentor, that's probably sufficient.
- Mentors should acknowledge such communication, each time, even if it's just along the lines of "got it, thanks". It may well not be appropriate to do a detailed review of each day's work (actually, most likely that won't be appropriate in most cases), but mentors should be giving at least that level of positive reinforcement to their students.
- While those actual reviews needn't happen daily, they must happen, probably weekly or better. It's important that the mentors ensure their students aren't headed off into the weeds, even if the student doesn't _think_ they have any questions.
- Mentors should, of course, be prepared to respond quickly to actual questions from their students. In some sense this is the main job of the mentor, and I don't believe we've had any problems here in our past three years participating, but it's worth stating explicitly.
- Mentors should inform the project admins (Anthony and Devon) of any problems communicating with the student, or indication that they're not actively engaged, as soon as they come up. We should never get to a point where an admin hears "I haven't seen any work from my student in two weeks...". In many cases, just getting other people involved can help the student correct any lapses before things become a crisis.
- We will be requiring regular status reports from the students to the mailing list again this year, sent on a weekly basis. Mentors should make sure these happen on time, and contact students who miss any scheduled reports right away.
- Mentors will complete their midterm and final evaluation forms on time, and will remind their students to do the same. Any problems getting their own forms completed, or reported or observed problems from their students, should be reported to the organization admins as soon as possible.
Students will also be assigned a backup mentor for each project. The qualifications are about the same, but the expectations are a different.
- Backup mentors are not expected to have the same level of day to day interaction with their students (although they're certainly welcome to do so). They are expected to follow along well enough that they can pick up the role in a relatively short amount of time, with minimal disruption to the student, in the even that the primary mentor gets hit by the proverbial mentor-hunting bus.
- If the backup mentor notices a lapse in communication, they should get in touch with both the primary mentor and the org admins to discuss the problem immediately.