A Year of Being the Google Developer Student Clubs Lead
It was a Saturday evening in August, the sky was clear and there was no sign of the noisy dogs. I was sitting on my balcony, not really relaxed, I could not stop doing was stop scrolling through LinkedIn, The Developer Student Clubs Lead results were out for some of the regions in and around India. I kept refreshing my mail, maybe because this was one of the first instances I was so anxious and eagerly waiting for a result in my college life. This was obviously because this is one of the first opportunities I had come across to be a part of something big, impactful, and where I could meet amazing people.
Hi, I’m Sameer, a final year CSE undergrad from Bengaluru, India. I study at KS School of Engineering and Management. My college was only established in 2010, and since then there had been very minimal efforts to build a coding culture community. Although there were several attempts through local departmental groups, they were very unsuccessful. This created a lack of information about all the amazing opportunities out there. I was a victim of this lack of awareness myself. This has been my most formidable regret, “I wish I started early”. My sole intention with DSC was to bring great exposure to all the students who would otherwise come till their final year and regret how much they missed on.
Back to that day
The clock struck 6:57 PM, and my phone buzzed with a new notification. I was just hoping it wasn’t another rejection, pulling down a notification a bit more got me jumping in excitement. I called my closest friends and I felt grateful to hear their excitement for me. That’s where I learned my first lesson being a GDSC lead, celebrating other’s success like you’re own, even if it means very little to you, it’ll mean the whole world to the other person. And this was the first policy I adopted.
It was time to set things up, I was hoping that the college would reopen and I could launch the club most grandly, making sure it’d have the best reach for all the students. But as fate would have it, that never happened. Time was running out and everything continued online. It was time to make it happen. I coordinated with my department to start selecting people at my core team. The interviews went by, and I finally selected my team of 10. Find the core team for the 20–21 batch here.
The very first event was a grand opening in collaboration with 15+ DSCs, The intro to DSC had great speakers, solution challenge winners, and the previous Program manager for DSC India, Siddhant sir. It surely was an amazing moment to see so many DSCs come together to collaborate in the very first event. Trusting each other and coordinating to make an amazing event successful was truly great.
The events are a major part of DSC, although, unfortunately, none of them could get the true, spirit and excitement of offline events, Google provided us with amazing tools to conduct the events smoothly. The DSC events platform provided an awesome interface to conduct some great workshops. The most memorable event was 30 days of Google Cloud. This was the first event from Google, the greatest part was the community coming together to help each other out in completing the labs, not to mention the ton of swags Google gave out for completing tracks. Then we had a slew of other events and great community work around DSC through DSC WoW and The Coding Culture.
Android Study Jams and DSC Solution Challenge saw some decline in participation due to conflict in the scheduling of exams and uncertainty of college reopening and the second wave on the rise. It was certainly difficult to keep the community engaged around that time. DSC closed with a handful of amazing UpSkill event talks by industry professionals.
Weekly syncs were an important part of DSC. We got to meet up with fellow Leads and the program manager to hear updates about upcoming events by Google. This used to be a fun meeting every Tuesday at 8:00 PM, sometimes even filled with tons of surprise announcements. Siddhant sir was initially our program manager and was one of the most humble and heartwarming people I’ve come across. His calm words and amazing mentoring helped us lead and make hard decisions. He was a key part of helping us solve all our problems in and around our chapter. And we had some fun memories like this when we celebrated the last weekly sync of 2020 and New Year.
last sync of 2020
This was certainly why we missed him a lot when he left Google almost by the end of our term. He still surprised us during the graduation.
My Chapter, DSC KS School of Engineering and Management
Like I previously mentioned, My college had no coding culture, nobody knew about communities, opportunities, and events, as all we did was sit in class for 7 hours every day and go home. I discovered all the amazing technologies and opportunities when I attended my First GDG BLR Devfest in 2019. That’s where I came across DSC, although I was skeptical to apply as I was already in my 3rd and had only 1 year left, thankfully after reaching out to a few past DSC Leads, they encouraged me to apply regardless, here’s a tip if you’re in the same situation, you’ll be selected based on your profile regardless of the time you have remaining, so apply anyway!
I selected a core team of 10 members. I wanted to keep it concentrated and focus on making them efficient in leadership so they could become really good at leading communities. An important responsibility I had was realizing the landscape of my community and looking at the bigger picture. The crowd in my college lacked development skills and most of the core team members I selected had not built a single project, but they were still the best ones I could find due to their interest in learning and their motivation to thrive. With a situation like this, I could not simply make huge events or hackathons, it was still in a learning phase. I had to train my core members before I could conduct any events.
I started weekly sync for my community, I initially started by teaching git and then giving them assignments to learn frameworks and build projects. We also started a tradition of making posters every week. This, I thought was an efficient way of educating the community about tools technologies, and opportunities, this also created a discipline of regularly researching new topics that the core team was not aware of and creating new content which helped both the core team and the community in learning.
DSC KSSEM Instagram
And I guess it shows, we had to choose Instagram as most people didn't use Linkedin or Twitter yet. I also initiated a publication on medium so the core members could get exposure in writing blogs. We did manage to conduct more than 10+ events and collaborate a lot with larger community events. The engagement we received was still average, the pandemic hindered our reach more as we couldn’t really engage. This was certainly challenging as sometimes we had to enter each class meeting and announce the events.
I wish we could have met once as a core team but we never got the chance. I’ll update the picture here once I get a chance to go back to college 😄
The GDSC batch of 2021 graduated on 1st July 21. It was surely filled with mixed emotions and a lot of amazing talks by the program managers. We also got to enjoy an amazing magic show by Kevin Blake, he absolutely blew our minds away.
DSC Graduation 2021
Although we never got a chance to meet everyone in person, the feeling was still overwhelming, we still formed bonds and connections in hard times and I’m so grateful for that. I wish we get a chance in the future, but we have to say goodbye for now.
Some takeaways for the next Lead
Being a GDSC Lead is more than just a title, it is a responsibility to educate, innovate and bring people together.
- With great power comes great responsibility
Yes, you are the Lead, but no, you are not supreme. Use your power wisely, be open to ideas and criticisms alike, do not misuse your position to make profits. DSCs represent a nonprofit community solely for creating awareness and educating the student community. It is not okay to make money off of it.
- Your core team will either make you or break you
There have been many instances where Leads complained lack of cooperation from the core team. So make sure to choose the most cooperative and humble people over just the skilled ones. Ensure their position is not misused in any way. You will definitely be responsible for that.
- Delegation is your greatest skill
Whenever you plan an event, there will be at least 5 tasks to perform, from making the posters to getting the speaker ready. Most DSCs have multiple teams for this, but this depends on the size of your community, if you have a smaller core team, like me, you must delegate responsibilities to your core team and ensure that the event goes smoothly.
- Self-sufficiency is the key
Although delegation will help, your core team will cherish, if everyone, including the lead, is self-sufficient in the work their doing. Cutting repeated instructions and reporting can save a lot of time. Inspire your core team to take action, set an example by leading the way with good work. If your core team is doing tasks without your say, congrats, you are a great Lead.
- Communicate and collaborate
Communication with the core team and the community is really important for a DSC chapter to be successful. Make sure you have clear communication channels with your core team and there is no confusion in the messages you are sending. Conduct meetings regularly and encourage everyone to ask questions and give opinions. Set up a communication channel either on telegram or discord to post all your updates and events, keep it active by conducting fun activities and polls to understand what they would prefer, never choose WhatsApp for this.
- Be Inclusive
A core principle of communities is inclusion. It is your responsibility to ensure that your chapter has a code of conduct and all community members adhere to it. Ensure the space you are providing for everyone is safe, respectful, and does not hurt anyone personally. Make sure to set up bots to monitor your channels so there is no chaos in the community because of one person. Provide equal opportunity to everyone, this is not a place for favoritism, even if they are your best friend.
All the best to the next batch of GDSC Leads, hope you’ll create more impact and make an even bigger community, and I hope you get a chance to do all the fun things that we missed out on.
And, we have a new Lead for the DSC KSSEM! It gives me immense pleasure that our chapter will continue and I hope it makes 100 times more impact than it did, during my term. I hope there are more leads and the legacy continues to inspire more students! Do follow us for more updates, we definitely are going to bring some exciting events and opportunities for everyone!
Connect with me to learn more about my journey