Best Tips To Help You With An Outstanding MLH Fellowship Application

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Congratulations, you're going to be an MLH Fellow! πŸŽ‰

After applying three times for the MLH fellowship, I got the expected and sought after response, which is that I have been accepted to the program. In this article, I will be sharing some things I think helped me with my latest application. Note that the things I will share here are just to help you make your application better and so that you can have a better chance. As I will be sharing the essays that I submitted in the application that helped me get accepted, please don't copy it word for word, just get the concepts.

So, let's go

What is MLH Fellowship? Before I begin to tell you about what I did in my application process, we need to understand the program and also understand what the program hopes to achieve because I believe this will help us to write the essays required in the application well, which is the major part of the application.

According to the website,

"The MLH Fellowship is a 12-week internship alternative for aspiring software engineers. Our programs pair 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."

Let me just explain this long thing. 😁

As someone just entering the tech industry, one of the major issues entry-level developers face is not the fact that they don't have access to materials, there are a lot of tutorials and courses online that can help you learn whatever technology you want and level up your skills, the problem I've seen a lot of folks face is getting their first role. It can be very hard and very frustrating especially when faced with what I will call the "experience dilemma" which is, for entry-level roles, you are required to have a level of experience, most, beyond working on some projects you found online or projects associated with a course you took but working on some real-life projects, and for you to get this required and expected experience, you need an entry-level role, you need a job that you can't get because you don't have experience. Even internships that might be a go-to are not readily available as there are not enough of those as most companies are not ready to spend resources training new developers.

Hence the MLH fellowship was set up to bridge this gap. It was set up as a platform for developers to work on real-life projects, get this required and fundamental experience and get the mentorship they need to get started in the tech industry.

In regards to this, the MLH fellowship has three programs or tracks that you can decide to apply for. According to the website, they are:

  • Explorer Track: Build out your portfolio of personal projects & experiment with new technologies by collaborating in small groups on a series of short hackathon sprints.
  • Open Source Track: Learn how to be a great Open Source citizen by contributing to major projects on GitHub that are used by thousands of companies around the world.
  • Externship Track: Experience what it's like to solve real-world software engineering problems by collaborating on projects from real companies & government partners.

Do you get it?

I think I have talked enough about what the program is, let’s move on to the reason you are here before I enter trouble. πŸ˜€

The Application

The initial online application is really what is going to determine whether you will be selected for the program or not. Most people who are rejected are rejected during this round, so you really want to give your all in all to the application. This application is really your chance to show MLH that you are passionate about the tech industry and you really need to be a part of the program. When answering the closed-ended questions, you want to be as truthful as possible because this will really show whether you are a good fit for the program, if you are not, there is no need for you to apply. For example, it is expected that you have knowledge of one of the programming languages used in the program and you have worked on at least a personal project. I will talk about this later.

The first part of the application is to fill in your basic information like your identity details and your education history, you will also be asked about your time schedule and time commitments, and your job search history. These are basic and simple things.

Developer Experience

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I think where it gets serious is when you get to the Developer Experience section, this is where you begin to show how qualified you are for the program. You will be asked about the programming languages you have worked with, and also about some technologies you have worked with, you will also be asked about your interests. Like I said earlier, you want to be as truthful as possible, if there is something you think you need to have to give you a better chance or you think there is a technology like version control that you think you need to know and you don't, you don't want to say that you don't know them, you want to quickly watch some tutorials and know how to use them.

Code Sample

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This part is also an important part of your application. You are expected to submit a link to the codebase of a project you have worked on and you just don't want to submit a project that has one HTML page, you want to submit your best and probably the most complex project. Note that this project does not need to have you as the only contributor, but you must have contributed significantly to the project and you should be very aware of how everything works. Also, this codebase has to be hosted on a public repository. The reason for all these is because you will have an interview where you will walk the interviewer through the codebase. You will see all the requirements for the codebase you are supposed to share in the form.

Essay Questions

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This is another huge aspect of your application, you will be required to write short essays in response to three questions that will be asked. These questions are to get an idea about how passionate you are about the program and what you might have to offer to other people in your cohort. I will be sharing the questions here and also sharing the answers I gave to those questions in my application.

  1. Why do you want to become an MLH Fellow? "Getting your first full-time software engineering position is something a lot of developers looking to break into the industry encounter a lot, it can be exhausting and discouraging. I have been on the receiving end of this, getting tons of rejection emails, some due to lack of years of experience, others due to my currency locations, and some other reasons. Also, internships that are there to help or alleviate such problems are in short supply recently which is due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in my current location there are a shortage of such internships, and most companies are not ready to accept interns especially if the company is not in the same location as they are. So, the reason I want to become an MLH fellow is that I see this as a great platform for me to gain industry experience which can help me in my subsequent job search. I also believe that it'll help me to connect with other MLH fellow, whom we can learn together, grow together. I also seriously believe that it'll help me to contribute to projects that a lot of people will use hence affecting lives positively. "
  2. Learning is the primary focus of the MLH Fellowship. What have you learned recently that you would want to teach other fellows if accepted? "I have been coding for more than 2 years, majorly doing freelancing jobs some of which were team-based, first I believe that I have learned how to work with a team and also have a lot of soft skills that I can teach other fellows, this is because we as developers sometimes focus on the hard skills while neglecting the soft skills like teamwork, communication, etc. Apart from this, I've worked with quite a number of JavaScript technologies and I've recently started working with Prisma, I know that I can teach some of these technologies to other fellows while also learning from them. It's really all about sharing knowledge. Some of the new technologies I've learned recently that I can share are: Prisma, Developing back-end apps with Typescript, Docker."
  3. Anything else we should know about you? "My passion to learn has probably already been communicated well to an extent, but I think I should also mention my passion to impact and teach others which have moved me to be engaged in some activities,
    • I'm a Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador, more like a community leader on my campus helping others to use Microsoft technology
    • I was a Mentor for the Microsoft Imagine Cup Junior Competition, mentoring teens involved in the competition.
    • I was also a mentor in the Google Africa Developer Scholarship.

I will advise that you communicate as well as possible. After this section, you have just a few things to fill and you should be done with the application. I want you to know that you don't have to finish the application at once. You can save your application and come back to it later. I'm telling you this so you can take your time as much as possible and submit the best application. You don't want to rush the process if you want to be a part of the program.

Sigh!!! This is long enough.

Let me round up by just sharing what you should expect after this application.

After submitting the application, I hope that you get accepted and are moved to the next stage. The next stage is a 10 minutes interview with someone from MLH who accesses your capability and confirms your eligibility. This is not a very hard thing as you will basically be asked to confirm the details that you have filled in the online application that you submitted.

The final stage of your application is a technical interview. This is not also a very hard interview as you will basically be asked to walk through the codebase that you submitted. You should be very familiar with that codebase and be able to talk about it. You will be asked a few questions about the project and also the technology that you used and that is all. Concerning this, make sure you know and remember the codebase that you submitted, because it can take some months before you get to this stage.

This is already long enough, so I will stop here. Drop a comment and Let me know what you think, or if you have any other thing to add if you have gone through the program. Make sure to also like the post and share it with your friends and your enemies that need this. Ciao. Au revoir

I will also be writing about my experience in the program after twelve weeks, look out for that too.

Minutes's photo

I didn't know about MLH fellowship until I read this article. Thanks.

Osinachi Chukwujama 's photo

This is an awesome read. I like how you explained the mentoring roles you have played in response to: Anything else we should know about you?

I will give my best shot in the next application so that I can level up.

Thank you for sharing your experience πŸ™πŸ½.

Israel Adetunji's photo

I'm very happy I could help