Getting a club running: Stage 1

I’ve always wanted to lead my own club. Back in middle school when I was still in Shanghai, I partnered up with one of my best friends there, Michael C. Zhou, and tried to run a programming tutor club. It was not very successful — by only the second week, members were starting to drop out, and we officially suspended the club after only 3–4 months.

Why did we fail? There were actually a couple factors that lead to the failure. First of all, I was not that of an experienced programmer at that time. As a leader of a tutoring club, this may just kill the entire dream because if you were not confident with your knowledge, who was going to lead the members? Also, Michael’s leadership was terrible — not only was he overconfident, but he was also too focused on his personal achievement rather than the club’s. In fact, it looked like he was not leading at all. He was definitely not qualified for a leader — probably only a tutor. The last factor was the most serious problem: we did not plan anything ahead of time. It was only after the creation of the club that we actually started to write our plans for the year, but it was already too late. Members saw no progress, therefore they saw no future, and they simply lost their interest.

Knowing that it would not be that easy to set everything up, I started early. I started planning with Joey last year, and things were still running as expected except the fact that Joey was going to a different school in the county. Not a problem — we set up a system that will run in any school throughout the county of different school branches, though nobody sponsored for other schools except for Wootton(myself) and Blair(Joey) yet.

Picking a teammate. Joey was obviously my teammate for the general planning of the club, but since he was not at my branch, I needed some else that I can rely on and I can get help from. I was thinking about a couple people that I could get along with, but I finally picked Matthew Yu (his blog), a guy that I knew since a year ago, and was some pretty amazing coincidence about how I met this man :-). The reason I selected him as the general co-leader was because he was trustworthy — he might not be the most serious guy in the world, but he knows exactly when to get serious.

Group. Codex was kind of successful to me, but the only thing I was constantly complaining about was the size of the team — it would be very hard to kick people out of your team once they were in. This time, as a “planning” team, I decided to invite no more than 8 people. Overstaffed groups will not only be inefficient but will also be very slow while making decisions. Compromising is hard. Anyway, we won’t need that many people just to lead a club, do we?

I am confident. Everything has been running smoothly. There’s no need to rush — we’ve got plenty of time. As long as the SGA doesn’t veto the creation of the club, I’m sure that with all my friends’ help, we will be one of the best-planned clubs ever in the school’s history.


Mingjie Jiang

Maryland, United States
https://www.mingjie.info

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