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Ayush Jain
Ayush Jain

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MLH Fellowship: My story

If you're related to the tech industry, you've probably heard about the talk of the town, the MLH Fellowship. Even if you haven't, this article contains everything that you might wanna know about the program. After all, who wants to be that one person in a group who doesn't get a reference and smiles when their friends talk about cool things. So without any further ado, let's get started.

Purpose of this blog

This is my first blog post ever. Yes, you heard it right, let's see how this goes. This blog serves various purposes depending on what you expect out of it.

  • If you're thinking about applying to MLH fellowship, this blog would provide a detailed insight into the whole program including the selection process.
  • If you're interested to learn about my fellowship experience and how it made a difference for me, I've got you covered.
  • If you were a part of MLH Fellowship, it's a journey back in time and my side of the story.
  • For others, I'd encourage you to read this article and let me know what you made out of it.

But what the heck is MLH Fellowship?

MLH Fellowship is an internship alternative by Major League Hacking where students contribute to open source projects that are used by millions of developers worldwide. The program came into existence to support the students who lost their internships due to the Covid-19 pandemic and created an impact on the whole industry. It was such a huge success that MLH has announced the next 3 iterations of the program.

MLH Fellowship in a nutshell

I've compiled the series of events onto a timeline that led me upto this point.

MLH Fellowship timeline

The selection process

MLH fellowship was announced on 4th May 2020, the day Google Summer of Code's results were published(coincidence🤔?). I applied to the program by filling up the application the very next day. A few days later I received a mail for the screening round (non-tech). The interview began with an introduction and the interviewer verified some of the details that I filled in my application form. I remember the interviewer asking about the college Data Science Club that I am a part of(that I've mentioned in my LinkedIn profile) and also about the internship that I lost due to COVID.

Tip: Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date.

I cleared the screening round and received an invitation for the technical round. I booked a slot for the next week. The technical round was different from any other technical interview(the scary whiteboards). The applicants had to submit a personal project a few days before the technical round and the interview is based on the project that they submit(can you believe that?). The interviewer asked me to walk him through my code and explain some parts of the code. The technical questions were based on the code I wrote. I submitted a MERN project and I remember a few interview questions:

  • Explain the role of super(props) in React.
  • What are functions like componentDidMount() and componentWillUnmount() called?

I wasn't able to answer a few questions but the interviewer was supportive and explained the answers to me.

To my surprise, I got selected and that too on my birthday🎂! It was the best gift🎁 I could expect in the lockdown. Thanks, MLH!

A week in MLH Fellowship

During a normal week in MLH fellowship, every day starts with a daily standup, a 30-minute zoom call with all fellows of the pod, and an amazing mentor (my OP mentor was Jani Eväkallio). Before the meeting starts, everyone posts their standup notes on GitHub. In the meeting, we discuss what we did yesterday, what we would do today, the blockers and the shoutouts.

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Just a normal week

After the daily standup meeting, the day involved all sorts of activities. One thing I liked, in particular, was flexible work hours. There is no constraint to when a fellow must work on the project. I enjoy the evening pair programming sessions with my project teammate(Aniket Kumar). Throughout the day, there are optional MLH events and workshops scheduled which are so interesting that I stay up till 3 am🤓 to attend some of them. And yes, the time zone is a problem because the fellowship is a global program spanning a lot of different timezones.

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Workshop on Coding Careers by Shawn from AWS Amplify

Weekly events include:

  • a Show & Tell where fellows get a chance to demo something interesting to the whole pod (generally technical but not always).
  • a Pod Retrospective - Retros were the most valuable times in the fellowship as we used to reflect on our traffic lights for the week i.e., what went wrong, what can be improved, and what we did well.
  • a Weekly Check-In with the project maintainer where we discussed the progress of the project and the blockers with the maintainer from Facebook.
  • a Round Table Conference - I can only wish we had more of these. In a typical round table conference, we would have an open discussion with our mentor on a predecided topic (mostly non-technical).

The project

I'll keep this brief as the blog is about the fellowship experience. Throughout the fellowship, I worked on a project by Facebook's React Native which involved writing scripts using JavaScript that would parse the React Native code to generate the documentation markdown which can further be used to generate the React Native website using Docusaurus. I enjoyed this project a lot and I hope this would help the community in the long term.

The Experience

When it all started

Where it all began.
June 1, 2020: The fellowship kickoff

How was my experience?
I had one of the most memorable times of my life during the MLH fellowship. I believe that this fellowship is what kept me sane and cheerful throughout the lockdown period.

What did I learn?
What sets MLH fellowship apart from any other experience is that the learning wasn't limited to the technical knowledge. The emphasis on soft skills especially communication(not just speaking a language) is what I value the most. I learned so much that I cannot describe all of my learnings during the fellowship in one blog. To summarize, I learned lots of new technologies (React Native, GraphQL, docker), how the tech industry works, how to efficiently communicate your needs to others(especially during remote work), and some really important life lessons.

Pros and Cons

MLH fellowship is a program that brings the best out of an industrial internship and an open-source program. When discussing the pros and cons, it is important to specify the context and the frame of reference. Therefore, I made kind of a Venn diagram of what MLH Fellowship offers and what it does not when compared with the other internships.
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Pros and cons of the MLH Fellowship

Final words

"The end is the beginning."
— Jani Eväkallio

Always reminds me of the quote from Netflix's Dark. For me, MLH fellowship was a new beginning which I never wanted to end but as they say, all good things must come to an end and so here we are. I loved working on my project, made some brilliant friends, learned from THE best mentor, and left with a lot of memories as a better human being and a step closer towards my goal.

Thanks for bearing with me. I won't keep you up anymore, so in the name of the MLH tradition, let's clap this out 👏.

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Ending the meetings by a clap

Top comments (16)

ayushjn profile image
Ayush Jain

Hey folks, if you are interested, here's a link for you to apply to the MLH Fellowship. It's highly recommended. Also, if you have any further questions or wanna leave feedbacks, you may do it in this discussion or my social handles like Twitter and LinkedIn. My DMs are open and I'd be happy to answer your queries :)

bhupesh profile image
Bhupesh Varshney 👾

Wooo 🔥
thanks a lot for writing this, it was a great read.
I gave my first screening round yesterday, let's see what happens 🤞🏽

ayushjn profile image
Ayush Jain

Thanks, Bhupesh, I hope this helps, and good luck!

whitroy profile image
Pratham Kumar

Hey, I have just read your post. It seems interesting to me. You have clearly mentioned the benefits of this program which clears my doubt.
I want to ask that I applied for the fellowship program, 10 days before, but I didn't get any rejection mail or screening round mail. Could you tell me do I need to reapply for the same?

delta456 profile image
Swastik Baranwal

Thanks for telling your experience. I am sure that I will also apply when time comes!

ayushjn profile image
Ayush Jain

Yeah sure, please let me know if I can help in some way.

bogdaaamn profile image
Bogdan Covrig

Congrats!! 💕

ayushjn profile image
Ayush Jain

Thank you Bogdan!

suchitra_13 profile image

it seems so interesting after reading your experience then how would interesting after took part of it!!
Thanks for sharing your experience:)

ayushjn profile image
Ayush Jain

Thanks Suchitra! Good luck.

devmalik7 profile image

wow thank you so much it was really helpful

prince1501 profile image
Prince Kumar

Amazing Blog Ayush...Really Nice... I enjoyed too much during reading ..and I can imaging how fun it was working with MLH teams.

ayushjn profile image
Ayush Jain

Thanks Prince!

airbus5717 profile image

Which Fellowship program i should pick ?
can u give a brief about it

ayushjn profile image
Ayush Jain

Please refer for MLH fellowship program details. Mine was open source track. You can choose what suits you the best.

jassi10000 profile image

After reading this , I think you had the bestestttt !!! experience of your life , really its awesome 😍