Back in March 2022, I was searching for some remote internships with a focus on opportunities in open source. In my research, I came across this Youtube video about paid opportunities in open source and discovered the MLH Fellowship.
The MLH Fellowship is a remote 12-week internship where participants earn a stipend and learn to collaborate on real open source projects with peers and engineers from top companies.
After applying a couple of times and participating in the MLH Prep program, I finally got into the Fellowship program! Below is an overview of my experience in the program with tons of application and interviewing tips for aspiring fellows.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Accepted
I got rejected 3 times for the main fellowship but reached the final interview 2 times. It wasn’t until I participated in the MLH Prep program that I finally got into the main program.
The MLH Fellowship Prep Program is a 3-week preparation program for aspiring technologists who are interested in experiencing the fellowship before committing to the full 12-weeks. You build out your portfolio of personal projects & experiment with new technologies by collaborating in small groups through a short hackathon sprint.
If you’re interested in applying to the MLH Prep or Fellowship program, below are some tips to help you increase your chances of getting accepted!
- Attend an Information Session. MLH advertises these in their newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.
- Review your application feedback. With every rejection, MLH will include a reason as to why you were rejected and how you can improve for the next time you apply. I noted the feedback and worked on them! Many students also post their rejection emails on Twitter and LinkedIn. I used this feedback to better understand what mistakes I could avoid from their applications.
- Leverage your network for feedback. I got my samples reviewed by past fellows, which helped me identify opportunities to strengthen my application.
- Take notes if you want to re-apply. After every interview, I noted down the questions and prepared them well for the next interview. This helped me do better in the next batch of interviews!
How to Ace Your Interview
There are two types of interviews and several rounds of interviews for the MLH Fellowship. The first is a behavioral interview where the questions are generally the same as the ones in the application. The second is a technical interview where you will be asked to take the lead and share your screen to do a code walkthrough of the project or code sample you submitted in your application.
Below is some advice to help you best prepare for those conversations!
- Be honest in the application form. Share your story, experiences, and why you are passionate about the program. Avoid copying.
- Save a copy of the application form before submitting it.
- Make sure you have a good internet connection.
- Practice well if you are not fluent in English. Since it is a global program and also remote, they expect you to have good communication skills.
- Highlight your achievements in the interview and why you are passionate about it.
- Review the MLH Fellowship website before. Make sure you go through it properly to fully understand what the program is all about.
- Review MLH’s community values. This will help in giving better answers.
- Come prepared to explain and talk about your project / code sample.
- Prepare questions for the interviewer in advance.
My Experience in the MLH Prep Program
The MLH Prep program is an incredible 3-week experience full of fun and learning! I made some amazing friends from all around the world.
I collaborated with my peers in the program on tackling problems and implementing new features. Each of us shared our ideas and approaches to problem-solving and we learned from each other! We also had a pod leader who guided us at every step. Below is an overview of some of the things I did in the program!
- Daily stand-ups where we shared our progress so far and discussed if we were facing any blockers!
- Every Friday we played some cool games, and every Wednesday fellows gave lightning talks!
All of these activities not only improved our development skills but also helped us in improving other soft skills like presentation and communication. By the end of the program, I had built a weather app and a portfolio website!
My Experience in the MLH Fellowship
I applied to the MLH Fellowship after completing the MLH Prep program, and was accepted! Anyone who completes the MLH Prep program gets their application fast-tracked and I landed an immediate technical interview.
I was one among the 94 fellows selected for the MLH Fellowship Fall cohort from 4000 applicants – this is something I could have never imagined before partaking in the MLH Prep program!
I got accepted to the Software Engineering track and collaborated with Solana labs for 12 weeks. I had no idea about Blockchain when the program started! When I looked at the repository for the first time and the tasks that we were supposed to do, I doubted whether I would be able to complete them or not. However, with the support from the MLH team, we were able to build a Python SDK for the decentralized finance platform Zeta from scratch by the end of the program!
This was only possible because of the amazing support that MLH gives to the fellows. We had live sessions where we got introduced to Solana Blockchain as well as access to mentors and pod leaders who guided us at every step. In the program, I did a lot of pair programming, brainstorming, and learning from my peers.
MLH Fellowship and the MLH Prep program were amazing experiences. I made some amazing friends while working on real-world projects under the guidance of experienced mentors. It gave me the guidance to get hands-on experience and improve my skills while building connections and networking with other developers from different parts of the world.
The sense of community is what I appreciate the most about the MLH Fellowship. Despite being a remote program, I felt connected to my peers and mentors through regular meetings and discussions. The community was supportive and inclusive, and I felt comfortable sharing my ideas and seeking feedback.
Overall, I would highly recommend the MLH Fellowship and the MLH Prep program to anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding experience in software development. The program’s focus on mentorship, learning, and community-building makes it an excellent choice for anyone seeking to build their skills and launch their career in tech.