Winning Google Code-in 2018 Experience

Alex Marginean
5 min readJan 26, 2019


✏️ How I found out about it

It was the Spring of 2018 when I participated in a contest and met lots of new people that were programmers or technology enthusiasts the same as myself. We talked about different things and a friend told me that I should participate in Google Code-in contest because a friend of his won the Grand Prize and he got a T-Shirt by solving only 3 easy tasks. For some reason, I thought Google Code-in was only for University students but immediately after he told me that I was eligible I looked it up and saved it as a bookmark. Funny right?

⚙️ What is Google Code-in?

Google Code-in is a contest to introduce pre-university students (ages 13–17) to open source software development. Since 2010, over 8100 students from 107 countries have completed work in the contest.

Because Google Code-in is often the first experience many students have with open source, the contest is designed to make it easy for students to jump right in. Open source organizations chosen by Google provide a list of tasks for students to work on during the seven-week contest period. A unique part of the contest is that each task has mentors from the organization assigned should students have questions or need help along the way.

Students choose tasks they wish to work on from the following categories: coding, documentation, training, outreach, research, quality assurance, and design. Students earn prizes for their successful completion of the tasks.

After school started in September every couple of days I was checking the Google Code-in website to see if the 2018 contest was announced.

📣 Organizations announced (September 18)

The organizations were announced and so I was looking for the best one. I checked what different orgs have to offer and I decided to pick Fedora Project because it had the most tasks types I was already familiar with. (eg. UI Design, Web design, python, IoT, Linux, Git, etc.) and I felt a good vibe about it so I wanted to focus mostly on Fedora org.

What is Fedora Project?

The Fedora Project is a community of people working together to build a free and open source software platform and to collaborate on and share user-focused solutions built on that platform. Or, in plain English, we make an operating system and we make it easy for you to do useful stuff with it.

🏁 Contest opens (October 23)

Yaaayyy! After waiting for so long I registered on the website, had my parent submit a Parental consent Form and I took my first task. I was looking through the tasks and my first two were basic beginner tasks. I finished them so fast and I was already thinking about the T-shirt (Btw the experience matters more than the T-shirt for me but the fact that I was so close to getting a T-shirt from Google was awesome).

After I finished the first two tasks, the third one wasn’t that easy and so it took me like 2/3 days but then guess what? I was eligible for the T-shirt 👕.

After my 3rd task, I really started to focus and work more and more on the tasks and to connect with the Fedora community so I can be a Finalist or a Grand Prize Winner. By the end of the contest I was able to complete 25 tasks some took me 2–5 days, others took me a lot. The longest time before completing a task was 15 days. I know 15 days sounds like a lot of time but it felt good working on it because I got to learn how to contribute and other new stuff.

Remember I said that I picked Fedora org because there were some familiar types of tasks? Well, there was also ansible and I wasn’t familiar with it at all. I tried to first take the tasks I was a bit familiar with but although it was intimidating I thought about taking ansible tasks so I can diversify them and learn something new. It was hard for me to learn to figure it out but I got help from a mentor and the great fedora GCI community. He guided me through ansible and he clarified every misunderstanding I had. Every time I encountered a problem there were either the mentors or the other participants that would help me. I also tried my best to help other participants if I already knew how to solve a problem.

I am so happy I chose Fedora because I got to learn different stuff from experienced people, how to communicate better, how to contribute, made connections and new friends. Now, my resumé is full of stuff and I already started to work on my own Open Source Projects and contributing to others.

You can check my work here.

Completed 25 tasks from the Fedora Project organization

🏆 Winners and Finalists announced (7 January)

It was morning — 28th of December for me when I woke up and, checked my email and saw the title “You are a Google Code-in 2018 Grand Prize Winner!”. I jumped out of bed and told my parents. I worked so hard for it and I was so happy about this achievement. I tried my best to make good work so I can be selected as a Grand Prize Winner but I never thought that I could actually be the one.

Grand Prize Winner Certificate

My biggest dream is to work and move to Silicon Valley. Thanks to Google for helping me to take a big step in this direction and to everyone that supported me: Mentors from Fedora org, parents, other participants and my Romanian teacher that told me I don’t even succeed with any Computer Science contest I’m participating at. Hope this is just the start. I can’t wait until June 2019 to go to the USA 🇺🇸 and visit the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA.



Alex Marginean

I’m a Romanian🇷🇴 Computer Science student who likes programming and design. Here you can read about either my life experiences or different tutorials.