Newer devs and software projects

One of the things that I do outside of work is running a meetup group centered around FreeCodeCamp. It being a FreeCodeCamp group, we get a lot of newer devs who are looking to cut their teeth with programming and be employed into their first job. What I find are the fastests ways to learn and gain competency is through project work and pairing with other developers while working.

It would make sense to get the newer devs to work together on a group project while providing real world value. However, I’ve tried this in the past and didn’t see much success. Either we lose interest from members or the project itself is too overwhelming and ultimately the members abandon the project due to loss of interest.

I realize that there is platforms like Chingu Cohorts which has several success stories out of it, however this is based out of a remote medium and I don’t feel as though it could be something that could be mapped to an in-person, community setting.

Is there anyone that was in a similar situation and had a strategy to maintain the group of newer devs without them being too overwhelmed? I don’t want to say “Hey! Who wants to do a to-do app?” because I don’t think newer folks will see the value in it but at the same time they shouldn’t be building the next innovating application where they suspect they are being used for free labor.

Could you convince them of the value of making a to-do app, especially if they are brand new? Plus, I think making anything is thrilling when you’re new. If something actually works and you made it from scratch, it feels like magic no matter how simple it is. And simple projects can always be spiced up with more features or style until they aren’t that simple anymore.
(Source: I’m new and just made a to-do app as my first project with React today, and I’m so happy! Maybe other newbies feel differently though, I don’t know.)

If you want to do a group project, start with a group that’s motivated to build and complete the project. Completion doesn’t mean you box it up, store it next to the Ark of the Covenant, and forget about it, it means building a MVP or some other significant milestone.

I see way too many “looking for group” type posts here that start with a vague project idea – or often not even that – and ask random people to sign up and help build it stone-soup style. And that just plain never works. Most of the time, they fizzle out if they ever get started in the first place, and if they do become active, they never get anywhere due to having too many cooks.

Build it and they will come. But it has to be in that order.

1 Like

That’s the trick I’m trying to master - how do you objectively determine if a person has a high enough motivation (or drive as I prefer) to start building and finish?

We get a pretty strong attendance at our meetups which I’m proud of :slight_smile: however, the percentage amount of people who are regulars are minuscule but growing steadily. It would be a boon to be able to quickly identify folks who have a high enough drive to build and finish.

An action item I could pursue is do a talk on a smaller project I had an idea for. The requirements need to be small but clear and concise as to what were trying to do. Then get input from the crowd and start building mob style. Keep the presentation as small as possible. Maybe 15 minutes explaining what I aim to build and ask questions often.