Journey from Besut Kode Student to Google Code-in Mentor

It all began in 2016 when my friend told me about Besut Kode. That year, I thought Besut Kode was a competitive programming contest in Indonesia that involves skills in algorithms and mathematics. I'm not really interested in that kind of competition, so I didn't care about it. Yeah, ignorance is bliss here. Besut Kode was, in fact not like that, read on.

In the same year, I have participated in Lomba Kompetensi Siswa (LKS; translate: Students Skill Competition) on Web Design and Development field, It's a national scale hackathon. I failed on province level, but I felt very close on getting to the national. So, I planned to participate in next year (2017) hoping I would make it to national. My mind was only focused on that at that point.

Along the way, I saw @yuki_is_bored posted some updates on his Facebook about some of his activity in Besut Kode. I already knew him from 2-3 years ago from Minecraft, although our interaction is very minimal to be considered "a friend". After seeing some of his post, I still didn't have any interest in Besut Kode or the need to seek more information about it.

Early 2017, I saw @scottms (already knew him; same as Yuki), @yuki_is_bored and @raefaldhia (didn't know him at that time) won Grand Prize on Google Code-in. There's also other participants from Indonesia that made it into finalist. Then, I discovered that all of them are Besut Kode students (except @scottms). Before that, I didn't know what Google Code-in was and that Besut Kode had any connection to it .

I checked back the Besut Kode's website, read it thoroughly this time. Then, I realized it was all about open source, not competitive programming. Although the wording is a bit misleading there and it did contain some tasks that are close to what competitive programming has, but not quite (Besut Kode 2017 is on point).

The fact is, Besut Kode is not a competition, it's a mentoring and training program to prepare for Google Code-in and also open source software in general, even though it said "Competition" in the website. At the end of Besut Kode, the mentors will choose potential participants (not one) to participate in Google Code-in and Besut Kode mentors will help them along the way. The rest of the participants can join Google Code-in on their own, no problem whatsoever.

Next, I checked what Google Code-in is all about. It's a contest, that introduces pre-university students to open source. I'm immediately interested. Until it said it's only for age 13-17, and I'm already 17 years old on 2016.

I slowly began doubting myself whether or not I could participate in Google Code-in 2017. I might still have a chance to be able to participate since my birthday is in November, that's what I was thinking back then. Anyway, I didn't think too much about it, since LKS 2017 is near (spoiler: I still didn't get to national).

August 2017, Besut Kode started their campaign of their 2017 program, I'm also interested in participating, I already lose my interest in LKS at that point. I saw @scottms shared it in his Facebook profile and saw him as a mentor as well. I asked him whether or not I could participate while mentioning my birthday is November 1999, and he replied no.

But, I did try to register anyway. That's when I met @jayvdb, the lead of Besut Kode program. I asked him about my age condition. He said yes, I could participate in Besut Kode, with warning that Google Code-in is very strict on age. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.

September-October, I was busy doing Besut Kode tasks (tasks are here; written in Bahasa, if anyone's interested). I met some interesting people in Besut Kode that has the same interests in open source software as me. The tasks is not very hard, but I think it was challenging enough and I think that's the important part of getting the participants excited.

Then came the end of the road. Google announced that the contest will start on 29th November, with a rule that on the date of registration, the participants must be 17 years old or less. Yes, I saw it coming and I pushed my luck too far here. I can't believe it's only 21 days after my birthday.

When I chatted about it in Besut Kode's chatroom, @jayvdb sent me a private message

How about becoming a mentor for GCI?
Instead of being a participant, be a mentor.

That message, makes me a bit better after seeing that Google Code-in start date. All the effort that I do to make for Google Code-in by participating in Besut Kode didn't go to waste after all.

@jayvdb is one of coala's administrator, so he told me to do coala's newcomer process and make sure to finish it before 29th November so I could be a developer at coala and then mentor in Google Code-in.

So, I did the newcomer process successfully and without too much trouble. Thanks to @jayvdb, he helped me a lot through the process.

I know being a mentor is not always a good thing. I might get more tasks to do (reviewing) and hold a greater responsibility compared to participants. Mentors are volunteers and they only get a t-shirt after the competition ends as a thank you.

But, personally I was more interested in the learning experience and a chance of being acknowledged by the open source community, which I was both lacking in the first place. Besides, what can I do? Graduate as a Besut Kode student and do nothing after that? Being a mentor is my only choice here.

So here I am, a Google Code-in mentor for coala organization. What mentors do is to create tasks and review the work done by the participants, mainly doing code review. Here at coala, I do mentoring on JavaScript related tasks.

We already made 2 new things:

Although, @jayvdb was the one that made 80% of the tasks and he did some mentoring as well, I still have my part.

Aside from the new stuff, we have many improvements and bug fixes done by Google Code-in students in many existing coala's projects.

So there you have it, here's a quote from @jayvdb to sum it up.

The boy who missed his dream by 21 days and got a lot more work instead.

If you're a high school student age 13-17, don't hesitate to check out Google Code-in and if you're Indonesian please participate in Besut Kode, they have a program for university students too. Also, don't make the same mistake that I do 😋