Today I’m excited to announce the addition of a third track in the MLH Fellowship that will further help new developers launch their careers by pairing them up with real projects from organizations through Educational Externships. We’ll be running a pilot this Fall with the U.S. Department of Defense and a select group of private companies and scaling the program even more in the Spring batch. Additionally, we’ll be expanding the capacity of our Fall 2020 batch and running a second cohort starting in early October. 

If you have any questions about the MLH Fellowship, any of these new announcements, or Major League Hacking (MLH) in general, I’ll be hosting an AMA on /r/CSCareerQuestions on Tuesday, September 15th from 12pm ET – 6pm ET. Register for a reminder when it goes live.

The missing piece of the puzzle.

We launched the MLH Fellowship to support our community members who lost internships due to COVID-19. After receiving more than 20,000 applications and seeing the positive impact the program had on our initial batch of graduates, it became clear that we had discovered the solution to an even bigger problem that transcends the pandemic. By pairing fun, educational curriculum with practical experience that you can put on your resume right away, we’ve created a program that can scalably help aspiring software engineers worldwide to gain the skills and network they needed to launch their careers.

A few weeks ago we announced that the MLH Fellowship would be coming back this Fall and that we’d be running it as a continuous program with three batches per year. We also announced the addition of the Explorer track, which is designed to help Fellows build out their portfolio of personal projects. Between the Explorer track and our original Open Source track, we could easily help Fellows build a compelling resume with a wide range of examples and production-quality contributions.

Even with these two important pieces of the puzzle, we’re still missing a final step where we help Fellows gain more direct experience collaborating on the types of projects that they’d be responsible for as full-time software engineers. When we met the folks behind the Phoenix Project, a summer program similar to MLH Fellowship in partnership with the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and the Department of Defense, and learned about what they’d accomplished, we knew we’d found the missing piece. So we teamed up to reimagine technical education and launch the MLH Fellowship: Externship.

Fellows in the Externship track will work in 3-4 person Pods on an educational project sponsored by a start-up, enterprise company, or government agency. With open ended questions, Fellows will learn how to go from ideation to launch, developing not only technical skills like JavaScript and Python, but business skills like the customer discovery process.

In addition to the need-based stipends that are already open to all MLH Fellows, all Fellows participating in Externship programs will receive project specific stipends designed to help offset educational and living expenses during the program. With full and part-time options available as well, we hope that the Externship program will be accessible by an even more diverse audience than ever before.

Tour of Duty Pilot

This Fall we’ll be piloting the Externship track with a select group of partners. One of the most exciting is the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). NSIN is a Department of Defense program office that seeks to create builder communities to solve national security problems. Together we’re launching the Tour of Duty, an opportunity for builders to reinvent their government by developing solutions to problems that it is facing right now.

Projects are all focused on helping people, and are either Open Source or the IP will be retained by the fellows creating the work. Examples of past projects include:

  • A medical app prototype that allows patients to log-in, book appointments, view medical records, message providers, renew/refill prescriptions, and sign forms.
  • An app to eliminate paper waste from standardized evaluation forms.

Fellows will work on educational Open Source projects that address real-world problems like jet maintenance scheduling and healthcare. In addition to the mentorship, community, and educational content that the MLH Fellowship is known for, Tour of Duty Fellows will also have direct access to a senior member of a unit within the DoD who will provide technical and professional mentorship.

Fellows who participate in the Tour of Duty Externship will learn valuable skills that they can bring with them into their software engineering careers while nurturing the spirit of innovation inside a traditionally slow organization. We can’t wait to see all the amazing things they are able to accomplish.

Potential Fellows can apply for the Tour of Duty pilot and join the waitlist for the Externship track on the Fellowship website.

Expanding the Fall Batch

It’s no surprise that we received an overwhelming number of amazing applications to participate in the MLH Fellowship this year. In just a few weeks we’ve had more than 10,000 potential Fellows create applications for the Fall alone. While we wish that we could take on every one of them as a Fellow, unfortunately we can’t due to limited capacity. 

Thanks to an amazing group of partners, we’re now able to expand the number of applicants we can accept this Fall. Our friends at Facebook, GitHub, Amazon Web Services, and are back and have committed to supporting Fellows throughout the course of the coming year. While applications for the Fall will still be closing on September 13th, we’ll be launching a second cohort of Explorer and Open Source Fellows running from October 5th – December 28th, 2020.

Inevitably we will still end up filling the class before we can interview everyone who applied. If we do happen to fill the class before we see your application, we will invite you to resubmit it automatically for the next batch for consideration or allow you to withdraw and edit it before resubmitting instead.

The Fall batch of the MLH Fellowship is shaping up to be bigger and more diverse than we could have imagined. We hope you’re as excited by these new announcements as we are. If you have any questions about them or the MLH Fellowship, drop us an email at or come to my /r/CSCareerQuestions AMA on Tuesday, September 15th from 12pm ET – 6pm ET.

Happy Hacking,
Swift & the MLH Fellowship Team