OpenNews: Eleven Seconds

Eleven seconds. When he hit “submit form” on his Knight-Mozilla Fellowship application, that was all the time that was left between Brian Abelson getting a Fellowship at the New York Times and, well, not. Reflecting back on it now, Brian remarks that it was “incredible that I was that close to missing this life-changing experience”

Eleven seconds.

We’re down to the wire on applying to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow—the deadline is Saturday August 17 at midnight (technically Saturday at 11:59:59pm), and if you’re worried that it’s already too late, remember Brian Abelson’s story. Because he only had eleven seconds to spare—as last second as anything gets—and he became a Fellow.

So what took him so long? “The main thing that held me back was the fact that I had no easy way to share the projects I had worked on,” Brian says, echoing a similar concern we’ve heard from other applicants. Plus, he says he looked at current Fellows’ websites and code on Github and “I felt really intimidated.”

That feeling of intimidation is natural—and is one we’ve heard repeated by every person that has been awarded a Fellowship. Current Fellow Noah Veltman explains it this way: “The crazy thing is, I almost didn’t apply. I didn’t even think I was a candidate. I had never studied computer science, I just tinkered with code in my spare time because I had fun projects I wanted to try.”

For Brian, the struggle with “imposter syndrome” (as well as setting up a Tumblr to showcase his work), ate up most of his time on the final Saturday to apply. “It actually took me so long to complete everything that I had to bail on one of my best friend’s birthdays to finish. She actually told me, ‘I’ll only forgive you if you get the fellowship.’”

He got it. With eleven seconds to spare. So can you.

If you love to code—whether you’re a “tinkerer” like Noah or seasoned developer looking for meaningful challenges—it is not too late to apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. We designed our application form to be quick—five short questions and some links to projects you’ve made—so you can get it done between now and midnight Saturday. But you have to apply.

"When I finally pressed ‘submit,’" Brian remembers, "I felt totally dejected. Not only had I just jeopardized a friendship, but I had done it for a fellowship I didn’t think I had a chance at getting." Six months into his Fellowship year at the New York Times, Brian is still surprised at it all. "Given all this, I guess you can understand how shocked I was (and still am) that this happened to me."

It can happen to you too. But give it more than eleven seconds. Apply now.