A few months ago, I spent some time revamping our entire community structure to enhance the interaction between students. The process was daunting - building forums from scratch was much more difficult than I had predicted. I did notice, though, that a few students were particularly engaged. There had to be a way to encourage this sort of behavior with positive reinforcement -  that’s how the idea of “student moderators” came to fruition!

How were they chosen?

  • Organically! No one “applies” to be a moderator. I reach out to star students who essentially behave as TAs in their respective communities (Elephants, Lions, Dolphins).

So… what do these “moderators” actually do?

  • Post helpful resources in your assigned community at least once a week. This could be anything from technical advice to fun(ny) inspiration

  • Help out beginner students with useful feedback. They should be able to comment on any final versions/drafts of projects they’ve already completed.

Are there any perks?

  • They can list “Student Moderator” on their resume and LinkedIn profile (see example). This supplements the certificate of completion that students receive at Thinkful. Moderators are automatically added to our Thinkful Alum group on LinkedIn.

  • When a student asks for a reference, we write about how engaged they were with the community. These soft skills can be just as valuable for an employer. Darrell (our co-founder) asks prospective engineering candidates to teach the team a concept as part of the interviewing process

  • Thinkful SWAG (t-shirts, notebooks, and stickers. Oh my!)

WHO are the inaugural moderators!?

Javier Collado: Team Dolphins 

Hailing from Spain, Javier joined Thinkful for the accountability.  I didn’t realize until after Javier became a moderator that he had accumulated over 16,000 reputations points on StackOverflow —ranking in the top 10% for the Python, Regex, and Bash categories!

“Seeing other people going through the same problems and being successful at finishing projects is encouraging by itself, but when some of those people also help you, that creates the desire to give back to the community as well when you’re ready to do it.”

Kelli Orrela: Team Lions

A front-end developer, golfer, and country line dancer, Kelli is a new age triple threat! I knew she would jump at the opportunity to become a moderator after seeing her passion for coding on her twitter and blog

“The community is an excellent way to improve your coding skills as many different mentors provide extremely useful reviews there of the code that students write for course projects. This lets you immediately see the areas that need improvement - and also be proud of the good code that you’ve written!”

Adrian Frimpong - Team Elephants

The bubbliest of all students, Adrian made his splash at Thinkful with an awesome video of himself dancing while coding :) After a few weeks, I had to invite him to become a moderator and spread his energy to the Community. Don’t believe me? Check out his hilarious blog.

“I became a moderator because it provided ample opportunity to influence and encourage students in a challenging endeavor. I post my struggles to let other students know ‘hey, this is actually pretty hard, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel’

Take a look at the rest of our inaugural class of moderators: Varun Kumar (FEWD graduate), Devon Campell (FEWD graduate; Python moderator), and Tracy Huynh (FEWD student).

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