In this article, I share everything that you need to know about the MLH Fellowship program — what is it, the interview process, and my experience being a fellow (of the prep program).
What is MLH Fellowship? 🤔
The MLH Fellowship is a 12-week internship alternative for aspiring technologists. The different programs pair a fun, educational curriculum with practical experience that you can put on your resume right away. It’s collaborative, remote, and happens under the guidance of expert mentors.
The program is divided into tracks that align with the different career interests that Fellows have.
The different tracks that the fellowship has to offer are as follows:
There is another program called the Prep Program which is a 3-week preparation program for those who are interested in experiencing the fellowship before committing to the full 12 weeks. You’ll build out your portfolio of personal projects & experiment with new technologies by collaborating in small groups through a short hackathon sprint.
About the Interview Process 📝
Let’s have a look at how to apply for the fellowship, the interview process, and how to ace your interviews!
To apply for the fellowship, you can go to their official website and apply directly from there.
The selection process is divided into 3 stages:
- The initial application
- The behavioral interview
- The technical interview
Let’s have a look at each stage separately in detail.
1. The Initial Application
This is the very first round of the selection process — the application round.
The majority of the applicants are filtered here, so don’t take it lightly. Make sure to take your time when answering the questions. The questions are made to understand you better and your interests.
Pro Tip: The interviewers are looking for these specific things in your applications:
- Are you passionate enough about the fellowship?
- Are you dedicated enough?
- Are you open to learning and collaborating with others?
Make sure to cover these when writing your answers.
This is another area where a lot of applicants get rejected. You are expected to submit a code sample/project which you have worked on. The complexity of the project depends upon the program and track you are applying for. For example, A simple static site might work for the Prep Program but it may not work for the full fellowship (if applying for a backend track).
2. The Behavioral Interview
After about 2 weeks of submitting your initial application, you would get a response from MLH about if you are selected for the next round or not. If your application gets approved, you are invited for a behavioral interview. This is a general interview and not a technical interview. It is conducted to confirm your eligibility and to check if you can communicate effectively with a proper internet connection.
What to expect in the interview?
You’ll be asked general questions like an introduction of yourself, why you want to be an MLH fellow, and then some questions confirming your eligibility to join the fellowship.
This is a relatively easy interview round as no such preparation is needed for this round. Although, some people, do get rejected in this round as well, so make sure to answer the questions effectively.
3. The Technical Interview
This is the final interview round. After about another 2 weeks, you would be invited to a technical interview if you made it past the previous round. In this round, your technical skills are assessed. The duration of the technical interview is 15 minutes.
What to expect in the interview?
You have to share your screen and present the code sample which you submitted during the application. You will have to explain how your code works. The interviewer will ask you questions from this code sample itself, so make you know what you have written and how it works. What they want to see is your passion for the project, how did you build it, what made you pursue it, and what would you change about it.
That’s it about the interview process! Now, sit back and relax and wait for the final review and matchmaking. The interviewers will evaluate your overall performance and would let you know if you get selected. The final result typically comes about 2 weeks before the program start date.
My Experience as a fellow ✨
I was a part of MLH’s Prep Program, the batch of Spring 2022, i.e. January 2022.
This is our pod, GC-Cheetahs:
The first day was full of anxiety for me thinking and worrying about what would happen. Everyone joined the meeting and our pod leader Gabriel Cruz introduced himself and briefed us about what to expect from the fellowship.
After this was the introduction time, but MLH never fails to amaze us with its innovative ideas. Instead of the standard introduction in which everyone tells about themselves, someone else introduced us. We were sent to private breakout rooms in groups of 2 each, where we had to interact with the other person so that we could get to know them. After this, we were sent back to the main meeting, and the other person, whom I interacted with, had to introduce and tell everyone about me. Vice versa, I had to give an introduction to the person I interacted with. This way everyone was introduced to the pod.
After a few days, we were told that we had to work on a total of 2 projects. We assigned ourselves issues and started working together in groups of 2/3 depending upon the issue’s size.
Pod Meetings: Daily Standups
Every day we used to have our pod’s meeting for 1hr where everyone was expected to be present. These were daily standups and retros, in which everyone shared what did they work in the past 24 hours and what will they be doing in the next 24 hours. There also used to be a general discussion on the project and how to go about it.
Let’s come to the fun part, games! Yes, we used to frequently play games with the whole pod during these meetings as well. Can’t express through words the fun we had playing those games, especially Gartic Phones. I remember how a China flag turned into a fat man, and then whatnot.
We also had a concept of lightning talks. In this, every day one of us had to teach a certain topic to the entire pod. The topic could be anything of our choice, which we would like to teach, and which we master. I was very nervous when it was my chance, as I had never taught a technical concept to this many people before. However, my presentation turned out to be excellent and I received very positive feedback from my pod mates. This certainly motivated me to teach to an even larger audience and has given me confidence in public speaking.
My Personal Experience
The fellowship was not just limited to the daily pod meeting of 1hr. We spent most of the time interacting outside of the daily meetings. I remember how we used to stay in meetings while working on issues together, till late at night, sometimes even 3 AM.
When I was a part of the fellowship, it was covid time. I used to have my online college in the morning, which I hardly attended (LOL), and slept during that time, and then used to stay up till late at night while interacting with my pod mates.
At a more personal level, the fellowship had a very good impact on me. I was just in 2nd year of Engineering when I was a part of this program. 12 out of 15 folks in the pod, were from 3rd year or even older than that. This gave me an advantage as I had access to the most valuable resource — mentorship. Those people guided me and helped me make a better career choice. Imagine getting guidance and mentorship at a personal level, from people who have achieved so much in their life (GSoC, LFX, Microsoft, Uber and more!) They expanded my knowledge to a very good level and introduced me to the various career options and what should I do to achieve them (just like they did!).
This one is a candid picture 😛, and don’t mind our sleepy faces as it was past midnight (here, in India) :
I would recommend you apply for the fellowship, no matter you get selected or not. If you get rejected, MLH always says it’s “not now” and not “never”. If you get selected, you’ll have the best experience of your life, just like I had! Ultimately, it depends on you how you make the maximum out of the opportunity you are getting.
If you liked this article and you think it helped you know about the program, consider giving this post a like and sharing it with your friends who might have the same doubt.
If you still got any questions, you can reach out to me on my socials (Twitter or Linkedin) and I’ll be more than happy to help.