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Over the past two months I have been participating in Google Code-in (GCI) and it has been an amazing experience. Faced with the daunting task selection screen for the first time I researched the organisations involved and chose to work with the Wikimedia Foundation as its tasks best matched my skill set and I am an avid reader of Wikipedia. My first week was an intense learning experience as I set-up Gerrit Code Review and submitted my first patches. I can’t thank my mentors (as well as helpful community members) enough for the support that they gave me both on IRC and via the GCI interface. I would have been helpless without them.
During the competition I had the opportunity to attempt a diverse variety of tasks. I was already familiar with PHP and Java, however I also got the chance to learn some new skills in C#, python and i18n. The latter I thought was a typo when I first saw it 2 months ago.
In the past most of my programming experience has been solo or in a small group where we would see each other daily. Working as part of a global community has opened my eyes to the importance of clear documentation and unified coding conventions. It has also allowed me to learn how bugs are reported, assigned, worked on, code reviewed and then a fix being released. During the course of the event I also had the opportunity to write a unit test. I found this particularly insightful as I had little idea what this entailed and after writing I then got to see the increased code coverage.
Looking into the future I have made connections with both mentors and fellow participants and look forward to making further contributions to the project. I hope to help one of my Kiwix mentors implement an in app ZIM library at the Wikimedia Hackathon 2016, however I also enjoyed my time working on MediaWiki extensions so I will continue working at Phabricator bug reports.
Overall I found the experience near perfect and hope that I can continue contributing, learning and maybe even become a mentor next year.