Wow, what a way to kick off my first time mentoring a cohort with The Collab Lab, founded by Andrew Hedges and Stacie Taylor. This volunteer-driven non-profit connects early-career developers with mentors currently working in the field. For eight weeks, our developers completed a set of thirteen predefined user stories to make a smart shopping list application utilizing React and Firebase. Our mission is to provide a safe space for our developers to learn how to collaborate effectively on a software team in a remote environment.
The TCL-23 participants included:
Ana Rocha has a keen understanding of user experience and brought her design expertise to the team. She inspired the team on the why and how to use Figma during their design process collaboration.
James Cox loves codes and brought a lot of energy to the team. He took many initiatives and pushed everyone to try new things. He has the self-awareness to pull back and help others level up.
Jessica Woodsman led the charge with accessibility and was thorough in testing. She is excellent at self-reflection, and her focus on team communication and collaboration is on point.
Zenzi Ali took on the thankless but super helpful job of story writing during the design sprint, which helped the team aligned on the goal. She wrote thorough PRs and was great at identifying potential bugs and accessibility improvements.
While each cohort shares guiding user stories of the TCL project, each team brings their perspectives, design choices, and skills to yield unique results. The TCL-23 crew excelled in accessibility (a11y), design, peer support, and perseverance.
On accessibility, the team reached well beyond what they learned in our a11y Learning Module session. In particular, Jessica employed various techniques and tools, including screen readers, to ensure that the project code, dependencies, and overall integration of the application covered as many tenets of accessibility as possible.
Regarding design, the team burst into a flurry of collaborative design work in the final two weeks of the project. They struck an ideal balance between aesthetics and user experience. They iterated on a variety of image assets, color and font choices, responsive layouts, as well as user flows that aim to be both intuitive and delightful. They produced a charming and polished app. The polish of the UI, consideration for various device sizes, and the UX intention show care and consideration that is impressive.
Finally, the TCL project is highly focused on the sustainable growth of its participants, even more so than the completion of the project itself. Ana, James, Jessica, and Zenzi committed to the team and each other. Life happens. Through family and personal needs, job interview demands, and other life events, they supported each other, picked up the slack where needed, and rallied together. Their cohesion as a team was admirable; you would be surprised that they were randomly put together just weeks prior!
It has been a rewarding experience learning together with this team. We, mentors (Lauren, Skyler, and I), are excited to see what you will do next!