Getting rejected 5 consecutive times from the MLH FELLOWSHIP

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For the rest of you, here comes one of my most frustrating string of rejections that struck a dent in my ego. The most frustrating was the 5th. Almost Ronaldo-esque (planned a wordplay here with the jersey number 7, but 5 just had to steal my thunder), after getting kicked out of the world cup — anyway, he is still my GOAT 🐐

Don’t get me wrong! I’m irked by the sound of my footsteps walking away from this. But before you question my resilience (or motivate me) with Ali-Baba’s or JK Rowling’s serial rejections, just hear me out!

It’s a lengthy story, but will keep it short! Ready?


From the website, A fully remote, 12-week internship alternative where participants earn a stipend and learn to collaborate on real open-source projects with peers and engineers from top companies.

Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, but extremely competitive. Give it a shot, though; you might make it. Goodluck, buddy 🀝 ( I can review your application essays, or do you trust chatGPT with that? πŸ˜‚)

1st attempt

Honestly, my first rejection was totally understandable because I had just completed my freshman year with little experience and projects. My essay responses were lame, and it was reflected in the rejection email. However, this particular line broke me a bit “Unfortunately, we did not get the sense from you or your application that you had enough experience for the MLH Fellowship”. Chill, I know I’m below par, but be a bit more politically correct by not reminding me πŸ˜‚


  1. Worked on more projects (though not too sophisticated)
  2. Improved my collaboration experience with Git and GitHub
  3. Delved into technical writing ( )


Here I’m a bit better, so I made it past the review stage. My essay responses were creatively crafted and bolstered by my online activity (GitHub and Blogs). I got the first interview. Whoo!

I was excited up until I joined the call. Then I got unexplainably nervous. So…


  1. Dealt with frustration for messing up
  2. Continued Technical Writing with Fixate IO’s sweetcode blog (this was a paid role)
  3. Focused on my duties as GDSC – Ashesi Lead and TEDxAshesiUniversity Web Development Lead (I don’t like school; these were the things that neutralized the stress)
  4. It was around that same time I got rejected from Meta (also after my first interview). Double blow!


Of course, I should get the first interview because I’m much cooler now 😎

2% Nervousness this time, 98% Confidence. I knew I was definitely making it to the next stage!

Strangely, there was no response or feedback for a relatively longer time after the interview. This fuelled my hope because my previous rejections were so quick. I couldn’t just be passive about it. So, I send a couple of emails

After a few weeks, I received a rejection email highlighting that the class had been filled. Wait, what happened to my stellar interview? Come on, I was super. Anyways 😏

4th attempt

This was a Prep Fellowship. Shorter than the actual fellowship. Successful Prep Fellows have a high chance of being retained for the actual Fellowship. I gave it a shot.

No interviews between submission and rejection…..Filled the class yet again!


This was bizarre. I made it through to the Technical Round for the first time. Cheers! There is nothing stopping me. I have collected all the infinity stones, and now reality can be whatever I want. I’m inevitable; Fingers Snap 🀌

Prrrrr. And I am Ironman…oops, Internet Connection.

In this round, I had to share my screen and demo the project I submitted during my application. I was itching with so much confidence to kill it. I’m Faddal; let me show you how amazing I amπŸ”₯

But the internet suddenly went haywire (it rained heavily a few hours before, most likely the reason). Seriously, bro? The interviewer was patient. We rejoined the call about 3 times, but I kept getting disconnected. I kept a cool head for a while until the interviewer decided to end the call. “You will hear from us in the next few days”. I knew better not to expect good news. Furious for the rest of the day that I unapologetically skipped meetings/appointments/tasks I had for the day.

Because the Fellowship is going to be remote, one emphatic metric is to have a good connection for online activities and collaboration with other Fellows. Although my internet problems were a one-time occurrence, I knew it wouldn’t exempt me from getting rejected like others.

I sent a follow-up email to my interviewer right after, explaining the situation but got no response.

Then the GUNSHOT! with emphasis on the fact that they acknowledge that internet problems might be a rare one-time occurrence. However, there are still strictly no reschedules!


Eerrrm..I’m kinda moonstruck!

Well, I could make peace with the idea that one can’t definitely get everything they wanted. However, not me! I would want to try again, but not immediately. I need a break! Don’t hit me with the “the next try might actually be when you get it” πŸ‘€ Charlie, I’m tired!

In a way, I got better after each application, forcing me to push myself to do extraordinary things to increase my chances. I’m happy about that because these improvements will be applicable in future applications elsewhere.


If you wanna apply, read everything here

  1. The application requires about 4 short essays and a code sample. This is the most crucial step. Most people won’t make it past this stage!
  2. Tell a story with your essays, weaving them together in a connected storyline (that’s what I did). That can be hard to do, and they should also demonstrate your enthusiasm and passion.
  3. Don’t pull a fast one by quickly working on a killer project and submitting that as a code sample. The team emphasizes against doing that. Use a fairly old but solid project that demonstrates your skills (no simple TODO apps or stolen YOUTUBE projects πŸ˜‚).
  4. The interviews are to gauge your communication skills and passion. Just don’t be too nervous. I know that’s also hard to do sometimes, especially when you blank out. The interviews are 10 – 15 mins long on average.

Good luck!

About the author



faddalibrahim By faddalibrahim



About Me

I go to extreme lengths to deconstruct domains that pique my interest. I'm incredibly curious and a creative, deep-thinker. I'm always ready for the next challenge and intellectual thrill in the arena of life.

I love anime, memes, coding, writing and design thinking

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