Level up your Software Engineering skills while serving your country.

The MLH Fellowship is an educational 12 week internship alternative for aspiring software engineers. Fellows on the Tour of Duty Externship will learn while helping reinvent their government by developing solutions to problems the military is facing right now.

Person working on laptop

Discovery / Collaborating
Midpoint Demo
Week 1
Week 2 - 6
Week 7
Weeks 8 - 12
Week 12+

Learn, Build, & Serve.

Tour of Duty is a collaboration between Major League Hacking and the National Security Innovation Network that provides opportunities for Builders to serve their country by developing solutions to real problems the military is facing right now from Jet Maintenance Scheduling to Healthcare.

Expert Mentorship

Learn industry best practices from experienced full-time engineering mentors.

Real-World Experience

Walk away with real-world experience that you can put on your resume right away

Flexible Scheduling

Sessions available daily with part-time options to fit your schedule.

What is the Tour of Duty?

Where a classroom teaches you basics, we teach you building. Tour of Duty wants to give you the hands-on skills you need to solve a problem with technology. Through projects sponsored by the Department of Defense, fellows will have not only a top educational experience but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute as a citizen.

COVID reshaped the school and work plans for millions of Americans. Imagine if out of COVID, we could create a new model of public service, tapping into the enormous entrepreneurial creativity that distinguishes America, building better citizens and a better, more prosperous, healthier, and safer America.

But you don’t have to imagine; we’ve already built a new program – the Tour of Duty – in the Department of Defense. And we need you now, to serve a tour.

The need for a new model

For decades American leaders, from Presidential candidates of both parties to retired Generals, called for increasing national service opportunities. Most articulate the reason is for the benefit of those who serve. We know those that serve in the military possess a broader sense of mission, a feeling of contribution to the American community. They also benefit by breaking down political and regional tribes when working on a common cause.

Yet a broad service program for all Americans remains unfulfilled at the national level. With COVID, an opportunity arises. A new model needs to approach this not from the benefit of those who serve but instead where the need, or demand, within government for better solutions.

Demand, not supply

The demand is better tech inside government. Members of the military and state and federal employees often look at their phones and see apps, or order on-demand services and wonder why can’t this same tech be applied to the public-sector problems they are mandated to solve? Today, Air Force C-17 pilots have to fax, yes fax, 80 pages of paperwork to close out a flight. Elite special operators are being evaluated with pencil and paper. USMC logisticians lose thousands of man-years inputting information into duplicate databases. The gulf between what the private sector has produced in web, mobile, data analysis and customer relations over the last two decades and what the government uses widens by the minute. As Defense Innovation Board chair and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated to Congress, “The DOD violates pretty much every rule in modern product development.”

Amongst broad calls by legislative and executive leaders for a more innovative, agile and entrepreneurial approach to product development, creating full-time positions inside the government takes time. We can’t wait.

As technology and COVID unlock and transform new, flexible private-sector work arrangements—from the gig economy to remote work to asynchronous communication—opportunities to serve the nation remain largely unchanged. Until now.

New pathways – tours of duty -- emerge

My Department of Defense organization, the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), is driven by the mission to bring in new innovators to solve defense problems, blazing new pathways for talented Americans, especially in tech, to serve their country.

Over the past two summers, NSIN created X-Force, allowing 150 talented students to work in-person and remotely on tech problems mostly in the military dense Southeast. Students worked this past summer remotely to create virtual reality training for F-15 pilots, built social media strategies for the 75th Ranger Regiment, and built hardware and software upgrades deployed to enhance our worldwide network of nuclear explosion sensors. These, and dozens of other solutions, were built and deployed in weeks, not years.

This semester we are partnering with existing programs at institutions like Georgia Tech, Duke University, and the University of Central Florida, feeding in military problems in computer science, mechanical and biomedical engineering to be solved now through their capstone programs.

And now, NSIN is partnering with Major League Hacking, the largest network of rapid builders in the world, to scale even further. This is the new model of service—the Tour of Duty. Are you ready?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is NSIN?

The National Security Innovation Network is a United States Department of Defense program office under the Defense Innovation Unit that seeks to create new communities of innovators to solve national security problems. They are dedicated to the work of bringing together defense, academic and entrepreneurial innovators to solve national security problems in new ways.

What is Major League Hacking (MLH)?

Founded in 2013, Major League Hacking (MLH) is the global community for student developers. We support 100,000+ student developers, designers, and engineers each year through thousands of on-campus events like workshops, hackathons, and career fests. MLH has been a community first, mission driven organization from the beginning.

We measure our success by the number of hackers we empower, and we want to keep it that way. That’s why we made it official and became a Certified B Corporation in 2016. B Corps are for-profit enterprises that are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their community, not just their shareholders.

Where does this program take place?

This is a fully-remote program. You can participate from your home or anywhere else you can focus. You will need to have access to a high speed internet connection that supports video chat and your space should be quiet with limited background noise or distractions.

What is the program timeline & time commitment?

This Externship will take place from October 5th - December 21st, 2020. In order to participate in the program, you must be able to commit 20 hours per week to the program for the full term.

Do I need to know how to code already? At what level?

We do not have the capacity to teach you how to code, so you will need to be proficient in at least one programming language to participate. You should have some experience working on a variety of projects using that language and feel comfortable using it to solve real-world, practical problems.

Experience levels usually range from intermediate through advanced for each language. Based on your experience level, we will try to match you with an appropriate Open Source project.

If you're looking for ways to build your portfolio and skills, we would recommend attending one of our upcoming hackathons or workshops.

Does this cost money?

In order to ensure we are able to review every application fully and provide that valuable feedback, we charge a small application fee for each program term you apply to. The one-time fee is between $5 USD and $30 USD adjusted based on the country you'd be residing in during the program.

In the event that you cannot afford the application fee, we will waive it with no questions asked. However, if you can afford to pay it, we ask that you please do.

There is no cost to participate in the program itself once you are accepted.

What are the eligibility requirements to participate?

In order to be eligible to participate in this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Over the age of 18; or over the age of 13 with a parent's permission to participate in this program
  • Your are a citizen of the United States
  • Able to commit the required hours per week to this program
  • Know how to code in at least one language
  • Proficient English speaker
  • Have access to a video call quality Internet connection
Is there a stipend for participation in the program?

Yes, all fellows will recieve a $4,000 USD stipend to offset educational and living expenses while participating in the program. In addition, we are pleased to offer need-based stipends up to $5,000 USD to accepted Fellows who require an additional stipend in order to participate in the fellowship. The amount of your stipend is determined by need and where you reside during the program.

Is the program open to High School/Bootcamp/non-traditional students or professionals?

Yes, the MLH Fellowship is open to all students and professionals, regardless of where they live and what type of institution they attend.

What kinds of projects will I be involved with?

Fellows will collaborate on projects sponsored from different organizations with the Department of Defense. We select projects based on feedback from sponsors, fellows, and the ability for fellows to collaborate meaningfully on software projects. Each student will collaborate on one project, spanning a variety of languages and frameworks.

Have another question that wasn't answered here?

Check out the main program FAQ for aditional frequently asked questions.

Ready for your tour?

Apply & level up quickly.