Rails Girls Summer of Code

Rails Girls Summer of Code Roles

All the world’s a stage, and here at Rails Girls Summer of Code there are many roles to be played. If you’re new to the Summer of Code, and have no idea where you fit into the program, take a look at this list of roles. We’ve made this a handy starting point to help you understand who does what, and where you might fit based on your skill set.


Rails Girls Summer of Code centers around teams. An ideal team has a pair of students, one or more coaches and a project expert, called a mentor. Here’s what they do:


Students, obviously, are the main characters in this program. They work on Open Source projects full-time, from July-September. Every other role at Rails Girls Summer of Code is dedicated to supporting these students in completing their projects, and generally having a great learning experience.

Students also are the only people who will be remunerated if accepted into the Summer of Code


Coaches are developers who work closely with their students. They help their students to learn and accomplish their project tasks on a daily basis.

Ideally students and coaches share the same office space.

Since coaching can take up a lot of time, coaches will often team up and roster themselves to students. Sometimes companies will allow employees to spend a pre-determined amount of time on coaching during business hours.

Coaches do not have to be experts on the team’s Open Source project, but they need to:

  • be able to support their student's learning process
  • be skilled to understand the project and the mentor's directions

Should a coach not be available to help with an issue, students can also reach out to remote coaches (see below). Coaches can also be mentors, which is explained below.


Mentors are experts on the Open Source project the team is working on. Ideally they are decision makers, or work closely with decision makers, so they can set general goals, give directions and provide feedback.

Since students will be supported by coaches in their day-to-day work, the workload for mentors is limited. This said, mentors can also assume the role of a coach themselves.

Support and Organization

These roles take care of running the program as a whole, as well as on team progress. If Summer of Code is a play, the organizers and support roles are directing, painting sets, sewing costumes, stocking the catering cart, casting the roles, doing up the play bills.

Remote Coach

Remote Coaches are available for help in a central, public chatroom.

Speaker Coach

If you participate in Rails Girls Summer of Code you’ll be asked to give a lightning talk at a conference (we’ll be able to provide some free conference tickets, sometimes even full scholarships), at a Rails Girls workshop or your local developers meetup.

For this we can put you in touch with experienced conference speakers who will review and work with you on your slides, and ideally can meet with you to practice your talk with you.


Every team will be assigned a supervisor. Supervisors touch base with their teams regularly to see how their team is doing, and if there’s anything the team needs help with.

Usually a supervisor’s work means checking up on the team’s work progress (see the Team log), as well as generally motivating them through the rough coding patches they will inevitably experience.

In rare cases there may be the need to escalate issues to the organizers team, e.g. when a team has stopped working.

A supervisor can be responsible for more than one team and is encouraged to ease to organizational workload.


Organizers are a pretty multi-skilled bunch. They are developers, designers, content writers, community manager and business owners all volunteering their time. They keep the website up, sponsors rolling in, and generally keeping everything rolling. Organizers are the ones who answer your emails, select applicants, monitor the social feeds and generally contribute their unique skill set to an aspect of the organizational workload.


Without the financial support of generous (and also incredibly amazing) donors, Rails Girls Summer of Code simply could not take place! Here’s to the bacon-makers!


Sponsors make it possible for Rails Girls Summer of Code to create a paid program for participants. Sponsors are sourced from all over the world, and represent an entire cross section of industry. While Sponsors receive a great deal of publicity and public exposure in return for their generous donations (usually a package) but most of the time not being involved actively sponsors take on a supporting actors role, but quite obviously a very importing one: They essentially pay for students so they are able to participate in this program.

Coaching Companies

This role is a formalization of a very successful concept from last year: Companies that fully host a students team for the duration of their project and allow employees to coach them. You can find out more about this initiative here: Coaching Companies. Sponsors can be coaching companies too, as well as vice versa


Our crowdfunding campaign is vitally important to Summer of Code. Your donation goes directly to participants, and makes a big difference to how many can be accepted. If your company can’t sponsor an entire package, they can still donate via our crowdfunding campaign.