Episode 113

Jon Gottfried and Mike Swift on the MLH Fellowship program


March 18th, 2022

47 mins 22 secs

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Special Guests

About this Episode


Jon Gottfried | Mike Swift


Richard Littauer | Justin Dorfman | Ben Nickolls

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. We have two amazing guests joining us, Jon Gottfried and Mike Swift, who are the Co-Founders of Major League Hacking (MLH). Today, we’ll learn about the MLH Fellowship program, the philosophy behind MLH, which every year, more than 100,000 developers from around the world attend these events to learn new technical skills by getting hands-on experience. Jon and Mike share the changes they faced when COVID hit, the future of events, and what they’re most excited about happening in the next year. Go ahead and download this episode now to find out much more!

[00:01:35] Jon and Mike share their background stories how they founded MLH.

[00:08:45] We hear the elevator pitch of what MLH is and the philosophy behind it.

[00:13:43] Jon and Mike talk about what the selection process is in terms of projects that people are contributing to on the fellowship program.

[00:18:13] Richard brings up a post from Mike McQuaid and wonders how Jon and Mike are helping the new beginners learn about the necessities of open source, and how they’re helping the maintainers to not burn out.

[00:25:50] Jon and Mike share how they were feeling when the pandemic first started and if they had to make any transitions to get to 2022.

[00:31:05] Mike shares his take on future events being possibly hybrid or not.

[00:33:59] Ben wonders if there’s anything that’s missing from the fellowship or from some of the digital events.

[00:38:06] We learn what Jon and Mike are most excited about happening in the next six months or year.

[00:42:09] Find out where you can follow Jon, Mike, and MLH online.


[00:07:07] “It really drew me back in and really made me passionate about the community side of tech.”

[00:09:36] “A lot of developers start to hone their skills though open source; however, open source is scary.”

[00:11:44] “All told, something like 40,000 people in our community lost a job or internship during the summer of 2020 due to COVID.”

[00:15:16] “When you’re an early career developer, one of the most important things you can learn is how to approach an open source codebase you haven’t seen before, and how to begin contributing.”

[00:18:02] “For people who don’t go to top tier schools or don’t live in a country that’s highly desirable from a hiring perspective, that really does set them apart by being able to point to something they built.”

[00:20:35] “Start with community.”

[00:21:43] “Major League Hacking helps foster a culture of coming back and contributing.”

[00:26:37] “We’re not a hackathon company. Our job is to empower new developers and launch their careers.”

[00:40:31] “We run a digital event every single week, full year-round, and it’s democratizing access to these types of opportunities.”


  • [00:42:39] Ben’s spotlight is thanks.dev
  • [00:43:28]** Justin’s **spotlight is fig.io.
  • [00:43:50] Richard’s spotlight is Uri Goldshtein.
  • [00:44:22] Mike’s spotlight is a project by Vercel called Next.js.
  • [00:45:36] Jon’s spotlight is a shout-out to Frédéric Collonval, a maintainer that has been helping new contributors on jupyterlab-git.



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