Hey there, I’m Gabrielle – a Computer Science student studying at Western University in Canada! I initially began my undergraduate studies in Political Science but re-discovered my passion for programming after the pandemic and ended up switching majors. 

I first learned about the Major League Hacking (MLH) Fellowship from a friend who was an alumnus of the Software Engineering Fellowship. Their glowing account of their experience piqued my interest, and I decided to do some research and apply for the program. I’ve since participated in the MLH Fellowship twice in the Software Engineering track, working with an amazing team at G-Research.

Beyond my technical pursuits, I’m committed to sharing my knowledge and advice with aspiring software developers. As a mentor, I aspire to inspire and guide others as they embark on their journey into the tech industry. I firmly believe that mentorship is essential for personal and professional growth, and I’m thrilled at the prospect of giving back to communities like MLH by sharing my own experiences in this program.

Contributing to Alerta with G-Research 

During my time in the MLH Fellowship, I worked on various front-end development projects. Using Vue.js, I created new software features for Alerta, an internal dashboard tool that provides developers with system error information. Additionally, I deployed back-end services in the cloud using Docker and AWS.

My typical week involved meeting with my G-Research maintainer once a week, sharing important updates, and asking questions through Slack. I also spent my time independently implementing software features. During my second batch in the program, I had the chance to pair program with another Fellow, which allowed us to tackle challenging tasks together. This mixed work model enabled me to effectively contribute to Alerta while receiving valuable feedback and support from my G-Research maintainer.

My Average Day as an MLH Fellow

As a full-time university student participating in the MLH Fellowship, I often worked on my assigned tasks in the evenings after class. The program’s flexibility allowed me to balance my academic obligations with my responsibilities as a Fellow.

A typical day in the program involved a morning stand-up meeting with my pod, where we discussed progress and any blockers we were facing. I also had weekly meetings with my G-Research maintainer, who provided feedback and guidance on my software tickets.

Day-to-day, my work involved coding, reading documentation, and communicating with my teammates via Slack and Discord. I worked extensively with technologies like Vue.js, Git, GitHub, npm, and Docker.

The MLH Fellowship provided me with significant autonomy and flexibility in terms of deadlines and schedules, which was crucial for my success as a full-time student. However, it also held me accountable for the progress I made. The program achieved a perfect balance between independence and support, which was an effective way for me to learn and grow as a software engineer.

Launching my Tech Career

The MLH Fellowship provided me with valuable experience in front-end development using Vue.js and working with deployment and containerization tools like AWS and Docker. I also gained a deeper understanding of key developer tools such as GitHub and GitHub Actions for continuous integration and deployment pipelines. Collaborating with my team, I learned the importance of communication and collaboration in software development, particularly when working asynchronously.

My time with the MLH Fellowship was instrumental in enhancing both my technical and soft skills. The experience has prepared me better for a career in software engineering through the hands-on mentorship and training I received.

Inside Look into the MLH Fellowship Culture

The environment and culture of the MLH Fellowship program were incredibly positive and supportive. The MLH staff were readily available to provide updates and guidance throughout the application process, and they were transparent in their communication about the program and its expectations.

Once I began the program, I found that the supportive culture continued with my mentor from G-Research. He encouraged me and provided valuable feedback on my work, giving me the autonomy to take ownership of my projects while also being available for guidance and assistance when needed.

The combination of my G-Research mentor and the MLH Fellowship pod proved to be an amazing source of support and encouragement. Our frequent weekly meetings helped me to stay on task and motivated, and the hardworking and upbeat attitudes of those I worked with positively influenced my attitude throughout the program.

Application Advice for Aspiring Fellows

In a previous blog post, I shared some tips for those applying to the MLH Fellowship! Two key tips I recommended were:

  1.  Apply early. You should ideally apply two months before the program’s start date, as the application process involves three stages: resume review, behavioural, and technical calls, which can collectively take a long time to get through. 
  2. Submit a high-quality code sample. This includes a project that is sufficiently complex, deployed, has detailed documentation and informative commit history, and a well-written readme. 

These tips were based on frequently asked questions from applicants, and I encourage prospective Fellows to do their best to create a high-quality project that showcases their skills and impresses the MLH admissions team.

Life after the MLH Fellowship

The MLH Fellowship has been incredibly helpful in my job search. It’s listed on my resume as an internship experience, and it has helped me land interviews with several large companies including some unicorn startups. My experience as a software engineer intern with G-Research in particular has given me an edge in my applications for internships and has made my application more competitive.

During interviews, I often talk about my experience in troubleshooting and debugging during my onboarding process at the MLH Fellowship, in addition to my persistence and accountability in solving problems throughout the program. The MLH Fellowship has allowed me to grow and improve as a software engineer, and I’m thankful for the opportunities it has presented to me in my job search.

Interested in the MLH Fellowship?

As a two-time participant in the MLH Fellowship, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with outstanding individuals and honing my technical skills in ways I never thought possible through traditional academic channels. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in orientation hackathons with other Fellows, earning amazing prizes along the way. I’ve attended educational sessions led by accomplished software engineers, which have taught me how to effectively contribute to Open Source projects. Additionally, I’ve engaged in pair programming with other Fellows to complete various tickets.

For more information about the MLH Fellowship and to apply for the program, visit our website here. Stay connected with Gabrielle on LinkedIn here!