So, You know they say “part of the journey is the end” right? So, this October 2020, I started a small journey alongside the journey of shaping the better me. A journey with Major League Hacking and 12 strangers turned friends.
Not gonna lie, the day I woke up and saw my acceptance mail, it felt so unreal that I pinched myself, just to confirm I am not in a dream. And Yes! it's real that I am one among those 170 Fellows who got selected from 22 countries and 30k+ applications. Every moment that Nitish experienced till this day is pretty darn real.
If you haven't read about the back story of me, getting selected for the MLH Fellowship, I highly recommend you to go through that article before proceeding further. (Trust me it's nowhere less than a Thriller story 😉)
I am writing this article because there are some amazing moments that I wanted to look back and appreciate what I and my friends were able to learn and achieve in those 12 weeks of Fellowship. It can also give you an insider perspective of being an MLH Fellow. So sit back and hold tight while I take you through my MLH Fellowship Experience. 🚀
In the words of MLH, “MLH Fellowship is an internship alternative by Major League Hacking (powered by GitHub and Facebook) where students contribute to open source projects that are used by millions of developers worldwide.”
In simple terms, it's more of a mixed bag of good things that are picked from Internship, opensource, mentorship, and hackathons.
Ok Now, let's get into the real experience…!
Oct 6, 2020 (10 AM IST): Day1, the first-ever official meet (of course on Zoom) after filling and signing up all the required onboarding docs. This day I got to meet all our amazing pod mates and equally amazing pod leader.
The Interaction session: This meeting is intended to get everyone to connect with each other and it was planned so well that it exactly reassembled those initial ragging (sorry interaction**) sessions with my seniors in my first year of BTech 😂. All the 12 Fellows of the pod are randomly distributed into 6 different rooms, i.e 2 per each where each one has to get to know about the other in such a way that he/she should introduce the other person to the whole pod in the best way possible and the same goes with everyone.
Once it's done we got to went on to decide a name for our pod 1.0.2. The theme is ‘Birds’. After enough brainstorming decided to go with BitLoons. And yeah later we also designed a logo for the same 😅.
The next days of the week, we need to schedule mandatory one-on-one calls with every other pod mate in order to get to know each other (yeah that is 12 calls of 30mins each). But trust me these meetings not just allowed us to get to know each other but quickly established a bond with each other so well.
Along with that, we have to work on a project for the Orientation hackathon with a team of 3 (which again is randomly selected). If you want to have a look at what our team has worked on, check this out.
By the end of the week2, we are done with Hackathon and got assigned to the respective projects which we are supposed to work on in the next coming weeks. But this is where the actual fun begins…
Show & Tells: where every week each fellow gets a chance to demo something interesting to the whole pod (preferably non-technical but not always). We discussed Novels, Art, Maths, Design, Inclusiveness... Here is one about paradoxes in Mathematics by Garima.
Retrospectives: 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 (Reds), what can be improved (Yellows), and what we did well (Greens).
Team Building Activities: These are the most interesting ones ever, I can only wish we had more of these. Basically, these are some games/activities which help in building team participation. Scavenger Hunt, Guess the Lie, are some of them.
Weekly Mentor Meet: We get to meet our mentors Cory Massaro and Chris Ewald where we discuss the progress of the project and the blockers with the maintainer. We also had an amazing Meditation session with Chris 🧘♂️
Developer Round Table: In a typical round table conference, we would have an open discussion within our pod on a predecided topic (mostly non-technical).
Finally last but not the least, the late-night gaming sessions where we hang out on discord and play AmongUs, Skribble, CodeWords to an extent where I got trained to be a Pro Skribble player in no time 😂 (still can't beat Kunal, Ayush).
In the Midway of the Fellowship, there is another Hackthon and also the very famous and highly exciting CTF challenge which is conducted in the final week of the Fellowship. In simple terms, those events were just continuous adrenaline rush and equally helping us to explore all new tech.
Here is a snapshot of the MLH CTF leaderboard where our team (flag captured) managed to stay on top 😁 for a while. Special credits to Abhishek for staying up all night to solve those challs which were dropped in the late night.
There are several other optional tech events and workshops going on every week. All these events are continuously added to the calendar, so one thing which you instantly learn after coming to Fellowship is good calendar habits. Every day soon after we wake up, can look at the calendar and plan our schedule accordingly.
Also forgot to mention, we were put on to a common MLH Fellowship Discord Server where fellows from all different pods can interact. We usually used to hang around in the voice channels discussing various things during our free time (which sometimes won't even make sense 😂). Here is one such occasion where Vishesh is performing a private Magic Session for me and Gagan. (I know you guys are not expecting this to be here 😛).
Yeah, after all this. It's ok to have this thought in mind. I will try to keep this brief as the blog is about the fellowship experience.
All of us were assigned to various projects and we were actively working on them at the same time. One thing I liked, in particular, was flexible work hours. There is no constraint to when a fellow must work on the project. By the end of the Fellowship, everyone is supposed to complete the tasks assigned to us. I am assigned to project GeoStats.jl which is currently under the JuliaEarth organization. I worked on it with the help of an amazing maintainer Julio Hoffimann and was able to successfully get by PR merged.
MLH fellowship was a new beginning that 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 a lot from them, and left with a lot of memories as a better human being and a step closer towards my goal.
There is no way we can point to the shortcoming in such an amazing experience but we tried our best to keep the best and worst things of the whole experience together in our final Retrospective. Feel free to zoom in. Or Click here for a better preview.
Oh yeah! we also got awards. Credits to our Pod leader the very famous Kunal Kushwaha 🤩
If you have read all the way down till here, I hope you have enjoyed the tour, I tried my best to convey the experience as visually as possible. Thank you! Reach me out with your suggestions, as always my inbox is waiting for your feedback 😁.
In final words, This blog is not just to share my memories or experiences but to show, how well the MLH Fellowship is planned and executed perfectly to help us learn various aspects of the current day Software Engineering, yet keeping it fun, exciting, and keeping us continuously engaged with the opensource contributions.
If interested, you can also apply for MLH Fellowship at https://fellowship.mlh.io/. We also did a live-stream sharing our experiences. You can check that out here.