Unwinding My MLH Journey

Ashikka Gupta
7 min readJan 23, 2022

After two unsuccessful applications, I was accepted for the MLH Fellowship the third time. Each time I was rejected, instead of getting disheartened, I worked harder on my application and my skills. This journey has taught me so much and has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll treasure forever. As a result, I’m writing this post to take you on a tour of my time at the MLH Fellowship.

What is the MLH Fellowship?

The MLH Fellowship, created by Major League Hacking and powered by GitHub Education, is a 12-week internship for budding software developers. It was first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic when millions of people lost their jobs and internships.
This program is unlike any other open-source program since it combines a fun, informative curriculum with actual work experience that can be immediately added to your resume. It’s a collaborative project that takes place over the internet and is overseen by software engineering specialists.

I was selected for the Open-Source track. They also have Software Engineering and Production Engineering tracks. Moreover, there is MLH Fellowship Prep Program which is a three-week training program for aspiring technologists who want to try out the fellowship before committing to the full 12-week program.

Application and Interview Process


I submitted my application for the Fellowship on the 17th of July, 2021. The Fellowship was set to start on 20th September. It’s important to submit your application well ahead of the deadline as Fellows are accepted on a rolling basis.

A few pointers to keep in mind when you are applying are:

  1. Carefully craft your essays and include your personal experiences. Essays are a good way to show who you are. So, take your time while writing them.
  2. Include a code sample that you are really proud of. Make sure the code sample follows best practices like clean and modular code, good documentation, and so forth. Also, the contribution you have plays a big role too. If you are submitting a project that you worked on with other people please ensure that you have a substantial contribution to it.

In each part of the application, there are detailed instructions to help you enhance the quality of your application. Please follow them and you should be good to go. The project I submitted as my code sample can be found here.

Initial Interview

I got an invitation for the Initial Interview on the 4th of August with Yashika Sharma. I booked a slot for the 5th of August, 12:10 pm IST. Try to book a slot at the earliest time as everything is on a rolling basis.

I was very nervous about this interview as it was my first time interviewing with MLH. My interviewer was really sweet and helped me feel more relaxed. This interview was mainly understanding my passion, communication skills, and eligibility for the program. Make sure you are able to communicate your excitement and passion well. When the interview ended I got a chance to ask my interviewer a few questions.

Technical Interview

Right after my initial interview, I got an email to book a slot for the Technical one around 7:00 pm IST with Sashrika Kaur. My interview was conducted on the 6th of August, 8:10 pm IST. During the interview, I walked through my code sample and explained what was happening in my code through a flowchart I made exactly for that purpose. I was asked a few follow-up questions regarding the decisions I took while making the project and some questions on the tech stack I used and why I used it.

The Moment of Truth

After completing both my interviews, I experienced a phase of dreadful waiting where I kept checking my email every hour expecting a rejection email. After a week, I gave up on this and just got on with my normal life. However, on 13th August I got this email and my happiness knew no bounds.

Acceptance Email

The Journey Begins

I was super excited for the first meeting with my pod mates and pod leader. We started out by introducing ourselves. Everyone was a bit awkward as it was our first meeting but our pod leader: Jordan Merrick did a commendable job at making us feel more at ease. There were a billion questions running through my mind about the fellowship, but he helped us through each and every one of them. Thanks to him our onboarding process was so smooth. Later on, our pod leader was changed to Arsalan Dilawar who was equally helpful and sweet.

Orientation Hackathon

During the first week of the Fellowship, we had our Orientation Hackathon where I was teamed up complete strangers. It was a big challenge for us as we has to collaborate in different timezones and also get used to each other’s coding styles. This hackathon was where I created one of my most memorable projects Golf it! You check it out here and the Github repo here.

Oh also, we won the hackathon with this project 🚀

Homepage of Golf-it!

Meetings and Bonding

I was in Pod 4.0.0 (later Ocaml Ocelots), an extremely diverse pod with members from different parts of the globe and also different interests. It felt enthralling to me, to be communicating with so many new people, from such diverse backgrounds and experiences. I was nervous in the beginning, but I wanted to make the best out of this opportunity, so I tried to talk to as many people in my pod and make friends. Being able to communicate with so many new people from such a wide range of backgrounds and experiences was exciting to me. I was afraid at first, but I wanted to make the most of this chance, so I attempted to make friends with as many individuals in my pod as possible.

We had our Stand up meeting on weekdays at 07:30 pm IST. Here, we went through our notes and talked about everything we had done in the past 24 hours.

A stand-up note I wrote

Each Monday, we had a Retrospective where we talked about the “greens”, “yellows” and “reds” for the previous week. This activity helped me understand how I could do better every week and track my progress. Moreover, we also had Show and Tell activities where each member of the pod had to present and talk about any topic. Me being the shy person I am felt the most nervous about this activity. I decided to speak on “Test-driven Development” and also put up a small demonstration of that same. I used the classic “FizzBuzz” example. The code for the demonstration can be found below.

We also played games each week where you got to see the competitive side of my pod members. We played games like Codenames, Gartic Phone (highly recommended), etc. This activity really helped revive the child in all of us.

Open-source Project

I contributed to Adobe Docs in this batch, along with two other fellows — Aviral and Ayan. I wasn’t really familiar with CC Libraries or Photoshop, and I was supposed to be working on CC Libraries and Photoshop plugins using JavaScript. We had maintainer meetings everyday Friday at 10:30 pm IST.

The maintainers on the Adobe Team — Amanda, Kerri, Erin, and Pablo were a great support to me. Whenever we faced any blockers, we could just reach out to the team on discord or talk about it in our meeting and they would help us. During the contribution period, I worked on 4 PRs.

  1. Firebase Integration Sample
  2. Unsplash Plugin Sample
  3. CC Compressor Sample
  4. Object Detection Plugin Sample

As I am a Junior student in university, at times I found it really hard to manage time with my academics. However, as the weeks went by, I surely got better at it. The team was very understanding whenever I was not able to dedicate a lot of time working on my project and I always tried to make up for it later on.

I’m very proud of the contributions I made. I had no prior expertise with developing Photoshop Plugins and using the CC Libraries API so I had to learn it from the ground up and then build it with the help of the maintainers. The whole blog on what I contributed to Adobe Docs and how you may do the same is available below.


I’ll always remember everything I’ve learned along the path and treasure every moment I’ve spent with the fellowship. It has made a significant impact on who I am now. The fellowship is responsible for my public speaking abilities and confidence. I don’t believe I could have learned as much from any other classroom in the world as I have from the fellowship. To summarise, this was my experience at the MLH Fellowship, as well as everything I learned from it.

Class Photo-Batch 4 (Fall 2021)