The Collab Lab - What It Is and Why You Should Get Involved With Them

What if I told you there was a group of people helping early-career developers gain hands-on experience by working remotely with other early-career developers on real-world projects to land their first job in the tech industry - absolutely for free?

Well, The Collab Lab is an innovative platform that connects developers and encourages collaboration so they can work together on projects and improve their skills.

It's not just developers looking for their first job who benefit from this excellent experience. Experienced developers, recruiters, or people working in the technology industry, in general, can also benefit.

Let me tell you why.

Table Of Contents

TL;DR <a name="chapter-1"></a>

The Collab Lab is a free, innovative platform that helps early-career developers gain hands-on experience by working remotely on real-world projects with other developers.

Founded by Stacy Taylor and Andrew Hedges in 2019, the program focuses on underrepresented groups in tech and offers a 10-week cohort with training in various coding skills, Scrum, Git/GitHub, and team collaboration.

The Collab Lab not only benefits early-career developers but also benefits experienced developers, mentors, entrepreneurs, recruiters, and hiring managers by providing a pool of skilled and diverse developers.

Who Is Behind The Collab Lab? <a name="chapter-2"></a>

In 2019, two people somewhere in the world (in the US, to be precise) had the idea to create a collaboration center to help junior developers bridge the gap that is usually the reason why they fail: no experience having worked on real projects.

And that's not all. The Collab Lab focuses primarily on people from underrepresented groups who, for reasons I cannot quite comprehend (society and such, you know šŸ™„), have an even harder time finding a job: Women, people of color, transgender people.

The names of these two great people are Stacy Taylor and Andrew Hedges āœØ.

And behind these two wonderful people is a whole team that helps them in any way they can. Kudos to each and every one of them šŸ™‡šŸ¾ who volunteer Cohort for Cohort to give others in this world a chance to land a job in Tech.

Our Mission: The Collab Lab increases access to web development jobs for early-career developers and, in particular, people in under-represented groups in tech by providing experiential skills training in software team collaboration and career management.
Image Source: Official website of The Collab Lab.

Who Is It For And How Can You Get Involved?<a name="chapter-3"></a>

Many benefit from programs like The Collab Lab: junior developers, mentors (e.g. former collaborators), entrepreneurs and recruiters (you'll get great developers from all over the world), all over the world šŸŒ.

Even though at first glance it looks like The Collab Lab is only for early career devs I want to show you some examples of why The Collab Lab has so much more to offer.

Aspiring Developers

As a developer, you enter The Collab Lab with a solid foundation of coding skills, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and React. You'll leave with the experience of how software teams work.

This means that by the end of the 10-week cohort, you'll understand how to work in sprints using Scrum, properly use Git and GitHub, create and edit pull requests, and successfully collaborate within a team.

Apply for the next cohort to gain some hands-on experience:

Developers, Who Already Have A Job

Are you stuck in your current position and don't know how to acquire more skills? Expand your skills to get a raise or a higher position in your current job by volunteering to mentor a cohort, guide the collabies through the program and teach them about Scrum, Git/GitHub and more.

You don't have to be exclusively a programmer to volunteer, though. You can also get involved as a community manager by hosting a Tech Talk, for example, or be part of the Career Lab where you show collabies how to create a strong LinkedIn profile and how to get through the interview process. You'll definitely find the right position for you and grow your skills.

Volunteer at The Collab Lab to gain some extra skills:

šŸ”” Are you ready to give a talk about any subject related to tech? The Collab Lab gets you covered. Submit your idea here.

Former Collabies

Don't know how to thank the folks at The Collab Lab after finally getting your first tech job thanks to this great experience? At least that was my concern at the time.

But I found a way to show them my gratitude by volunteering to mentor a cohort and also being a sponsor for some time.

Become a mentor yourself

Support the Collab Lab on GitHub

But of course, you don't have to do any of this. The Collab Lab doesn't want anything in return from you. Their mission is to help junior devs load a job, and that's all. It was just my way of saying thanks since I had the means to do it.

Hiring Managers/Looking For Developers

Are you looking for new developers for your team? Then browse The Collab Lab's Developer Pool now and hire a developer who, upon completion of the program, will have learned the skills necessary to work in a professional team.

Nearly all of the developers in The Collab Lab come from underrepresented groups in tech. Start here to diversify your pipeline!

Quote Source: Official website of The Collab Lab.

To make the program even better (if that's even possible šŸ˜‡) you can also sponsor the program. Ultimately, this will benefit you as well, allowing you to provide even better training to the developers who will later work in your company.

Become a sponsor:

Get in touch with and hire developers from the pool:


Image Source: Official website of The Collab Lab.

How Does It Work?<a name="chapter-4"></a>

You apply for the cohort in your region (and send a link to your GitHub profile and your WHY you should be accepted). Your application gets reviewed, and you get accepted, great. If not, apply for the next cohort. There will be two cohorts per year.

During those ten weeks, you'll work in a team of four developers, do pair programming, learn all about React, and Scrum events like sprints and retrospectives, how to use Git and GitHub, how to create and edit a pull request, how to present the ticket you're working on, and more.

Once the project is ready, all collabies are prepared for the application process for their first job (Now it really gets serious). Everyone creates an appealing LinkedIn profile, you learn how to behave during an interview, do a coding challenge, etc.

Best of all, the course is completely free and you can do it even if you have a full-time job. You are expected to work about 5 hours per week.

Check out the program outline and how to apply on the participation page of their website:

How I Get Involved With The Collab Lab<a name="chapter-5"></a>

As a self-taught developer in my 30s, I had major concerns about finding a job without hands-on experience. Then I saw The Collab Lab on Twitter. I applied 2 times.

The first time I had only been learning frontend development for 2 months and was rejected (of course). The next time I was coding for about 5 months, building 2-3 simple React apps, but equally focused on styling, code quality, and project setup (Git/GitHub, ReadMe). This time I was accepted.

After graduating, I became a mentor myself, so I gained even more skills on how to manage a small team and deepen my knowledge of the codebase. When I found a job 6 months after graduation (so I've been in the tech industry for about 1 year now), I couldn't spend much time mentoring others on a regular basis, so I decided to support The Collab Lab in other ways and started sponsoring them. This way I could show my gratitude, which came deep from the heart šŸ’Ÿ, as well.

Get In Touch<a name="chapter-6"></a>

If you want to be part of the next cohort, whether as a developer or mentor, check out the participation page and the volunteer page

If you are looking to hire developers, check out the developer pool The developers are trained in React, but that doesn't mean that's all they've got. Many of them also have other technical skills, be it in the backend, UX/UI design, and so on.

šŸ’” Stay up to date with The Collab Lab!

To stay up to date with their latest updates, follow The Collab Lab on:

  • Mastodon:
  • Twitter:
  • DevCommunity:

Hello, Iā€™m Julia. I help aspiring front-end developers and UX designers land their first job in tech.

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