Works In Progress

A behind the scenes view at my works in progress, and random tech inspirations.

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    Building and leading a team.


    At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted a leadership role on a software development project. I had spent so much time this past year interning at different start-up companies and volunteering at non-profit organizations that I felt ready to lead and teach.

    I soon found that opportunity at a student-led federal charity at PuMP and started at the very beginning of this year. They were looking to transition their website from Wordpress to a website coded from scratch, and I took this as an opportunity to rebrand their website.

    It was safe to say the first four months were a disaster. Learning to code and web design required a lot of time, commitment, and the learning curve at the beginning was very difficult. I found it hard to keep members engaged, and at the end of the four months, most of the members were leaving for university and wanted to find other opportunities. So going into May, I had to start recruiting a team from scratch, but this time above experience, I wanted to find members that were motivated to learn, to participate, and to be a team player.

    I recruited sixteen elementary and high school students from within and external to the organization. I created training documents and held workshops so they could learn the skills to use Git and Github, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and React.

    This time, there was more success. The team was more engaged and we were able to get further into designing and building our website. From this experience, I learned a lot about leadership (especially in the software industry) and guidance. Here are my key takeaways:

    1. Listening to your team members: I knew all my team members took this opportunity to learn, so I paid the most attention to listening to their goals. Did they want to add a new feature to the website so they could learn a new skill? Did they want a specific task, document, or workshop to help teach them a skill they wanted to learn?
    2. Seek ways to keep members engaged: Motivation is always the biggest key to learning, and I wanted to come up with specific ways to keep them all engaged! I shared with them what I was learning each week (since the world of software involves always learning). I encouraged other members to share about their progress so that other people could learn from each other. I started doing workshops so that there could be more interactive parts to learning.
    3. Doing 1 on 1s: I took this practice from having biweekly 1 on 1s in one of my internships. I think this helps you know each team member better, and understand what their learning goals are. It also makes them feel like you care about their experience.

    Read more about the software designing process of this project here:

    Redesigning PuMP