Hey, hackers! My name is Quan. I’m a career changer and a computer science student in the MCIT program at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to finding software engineering, I worked primarily in a strategic finance role at startups, building financial forecasting models, assisting with strategic planning, and engaging in corporate development. 

I am passionate about making positive change in the world through my work and made the switch to a career in software engineering in order to better effect change on a large scale.

I first learned about the Major League Hacking (MLH) Fellowship while I was researching apprenticeship and internship alternative programs for folks with non-traditional backgrounds like myself. The MLH Fellowship had a tremendous impact on my career development, and I’m excited to share with you all my experience!

Building Connections in a New Industry

One of the biggest benefits of the MLH Fellowship was its collaborative nature, which allowed me to connect with industry professionals and grow my network. While I remained in New York City during my two semesters in the MLH Fellowship, I met and collaborated with people from all over the world.

For instance, my pod leader was in Europe, several of my pod-mates were in Canada , and some of the project managers were in California . It was a delightful experience interacting with and learning from folks with such diverse backgrounds and personalities. One of my virtual pod-mates has even become a close friend of mine and a mentor in the time since the MLH Fellowship.

Growing in a Community of Innovators and Collaborators

The MLH Fellowship provides an amazing community with an emphasis on learning and collaboration through contributing to real-world projects. You are encouraged to step out of your comfort zone to learn new technologies and make meaningful contributions. Moreover, there are mentors and peers who will help guide and support you every step of the way.

Plus, it’s never just about work. There are also tons of fun social activities and chances to make friends with fellows in other pods. Overall, the MLH Fellowship was a highly rewarding experience and one which I will never forget.

Jumping in Head-First With Real-World Experiences

When I started the Open Source Track of the MLH Fellowship in the Fall of 2022, I got right to it! I started the program by contributing to BentoML, a platform for building, deploying, and managing machine learning models. During my first semester of the MLH Fellowship, I got to assist with integrating BentoML with Apache Spark, an analytical tool for big data. As a result of the integration project, Apache Spark was able to offer batch processing to their 2,000+ community members for the first time.

The second time, I participated in the Open Source Track of the MLH Fellowship in Spring 2023, I worked on the SMILE project at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. My experience included implementing the editing feature for SMILE’s real-time collaboration dashboard.

I’m thankful for the MLH Fellowship and its impact on my career development. On the technical side, I have strengthened my understanding of Git, GitHub, Zsh, Python, Apache Spark, JavaScript, TypeScript, React, and GraphQL (did I mention we learned a lot?). I learned what it’s like to work as a software engineer in the real world, engaging in processes such as Scrum, and participating in activities such as pairing and submitting pull requests on GitHub. On the non-technical side, I learned to ask questions, search for answers, and manage my stakeholders more proficiently.

Launching a New Career

Currently, I am working as a Software Engineer with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – the same company I contributed to during my second semester in the MLH Fellowship!

In large part, I landed this position thanks to the MLH Fellowship. Not only did the program connect me with the company, but it also provided me with workshops, mentorship, and resources that improved my performance throughout the MLH Fellowship, and ultimately led to a full-time return offer at the conclusion of the semester.

Interested in the MLH Fellowship?

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