The Collab Lab: Recap and retro

You might recall that in May I joined The Collab Lab as a Mentor, leading a cohort of exceptional early-career developers through a fully-remote eight-week intensive where they learned critical collaboration skills while building a production app. Well, guess what? THEY DID IT!

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Shajia, Lily, Ali, and Luka built the product by pairing weekly. They opened, reviewed, and merged PRs. Each week they demoed their work in production in an engaging and thorough way. They were active participants in retros, openly sharing their joys, appreciations, wins, and thoughts on how things could be improved. They attended learning modules to level up on accessibility, effective code reviews, pair programming, and technical writing. Read our cohort’s official recap from mentor Stacie on

Not only did they achieve all of the goals of the program, but they also followed the “campsite rule”: they’re leaving the place better than they found it. Yes, the Collab Lab is already a terrific program. But Shajia, Lily, Ali and Luka made it better by flagging opportunities to make the Github Issues and Acceptance Criteria more clear, and by filing new Issues for things we could to improve the program for all future cohorts.

The Collab Lab offered me a unique opportunity to offer the same kind of encouragement, enthusiastic support, clear communication, and compassionate feedback that I’d typically devote to my high-performing professional development teams, but at a non-profit. As a result, these incredible early-career developers now know exactly what it is like to work on a highly effective, psychologically safe team. It’s my hope that Shajia, Lily, Ali and Luka will use this experience as their playbook for the future, because they now know firsthand just how effective a safe, supportive team can be.

BIG thanks to founder Andrew and Stacie for inviting me to mentor, and for trusting and empowering me to lead. We worked great as a team, covering for each other when needed. As I said repeatedly, I am in absolute awe of the quality, thoughtfulness, and intentionality of the program that they have put together and continued to refine. Andrew and Stacie are the real deal, y’all — true allies, advocates, sponsors, mentors, speakers of truth to power. They care like few others, and they put in the work to show it.

So, to recap: would I recommend The Collab Lab? Will I mentor again? A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y!

If you’re an early career developer with coding chops who wants to learn the collaboration side of code, you owe it to yourself to apply for the program. If you know someone who would benefit from learning the ins and outs of pair programming and code reviews in a safe, supportive environment, please let them know about The Collab Lab. And if you want to support our work (we are a non-profit!) please support us on Github Sponsors. It’s worth following Collab Lab on Twitter, too.

What’s next for me and Collab Lab? Well, I just can’t quit. I’m joining Cohort 9 as the Code of Conduct responder… and I expect it won’t be long before I sign up to Mentor again.

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