Ben Borgers

Learnings from JumboCode

March 9, 2023

This year, I’m involved in a club called JumboCode at Tufts. It’s a club that spends the year building a web or mobile app for a non-profit for free, and at the end hands it off to them.

I’m a tech lead for a team that consists of:

  • 1 project manager
  • 1 tech lead
  • 1 designer
  • 11 developers

How I got to be a tech lead without having previously been a developer in JumboCode is mostly luck, and a story for another time.

Here are some documented thoughts I’ve had recently that I wish knew earlier in the year:

  • You should have your team work in pairs, from the beginning. They will get to know each other better a lot faster that way.
    • Don’t leave it up to them to choose. That’s awkward for them.
    • They will figure out how to work together. That’ll be okay.
  • Two one-hour meetings in the week is better than one two-hour meeting.
    • Two hours is a long time. People will leave early anyway and then it’s basically a one hour meeting.
    • Many people will not come to the mid-week meeting, and that’s okay. It can be a nice time for more one-on-one help.
    • Ideally, schedule the other hour-long meeting before the hour-long all-club meeting. That way, you get roughly two hours without having it feel like two hours.
  • Don’t use TypeScript. Most people have never written JavaScript before, and you can do them a favor by not making them learn both at the same time.
  • Recognize that React has unintuitive fundamentals. Try to teach the fundamentals of state, components, etc. and continue to explain them when it’s appropriate.
  • JumboCode is a club whose main output is exposure to the wonderful world of making apps (I say that unironically; I personally love it). The app you make for the non-profit is a fun means to that end.