Do you believe design should be a public good?

Monique Baena-Tan
Jul 31, 2017 · 3 min read

After having been at Code for America for two years, attended a dozen Brigade MeetUps, and led design research for the Talent Initiative, I increasingly receive inquiries about how to concretely make the leap into designing for social impact.

The idea of finding work that will have a positive impact in this world is something that many people are searching for — whether you have an established career or are simply trying to gain more experience. The path to getting there, however, might seem, at best, ambiguous and, to many, out of reach.

I’ve met a lot of people with really great jobs who still find themselves leaving the office searching for more meaning in their work. In those conversations, they tell me that they wish they could find opportunities that would allow them to tackle complex systemic issues such as homelessness, access to healthcare and improving systems to support foster children and social workers.

These jobs exist out there, but can feel unattainable without the right connections or the right words to enter into a Google search box.

I’ve spent some time tracking my advice for people looking to transition, since my job now involves helping talented people find amazing jobs in public interest technology — and more specifically in government!

I want to help you make the leap into public interest tech

All it takes is for you to meet one person who can widen your network and create ripple effects that open doors for countless opportunities. So how can you meet that one person?

Actually get a job in public interest technology

Networks and connections are important when looking for a new opportunity, but plenty of people still get jobs by just applying the traditional route. Daniella did! Here are a couple great job boards for you to find your next move:

Attend events

You might already attend plenty of events, but maybe not in the field you’re looking to work in. Since the range of fields is quite large, the best advice I can give is to follow your favourite organizations on Twitter and browse MeetUp.

To give you a sense of what you might find, here are some of my favourites:

Reach out

We’re a very friendly and welcoming bunch! We’re also all (for the most part) hiring, or know someone who is hiring. DM us on Twitter or LinkedIn to chat.

Don’t have Twitter? No worries, my colleagues and I are also piloting office hours, and we’re happy to speak to folks. Sign up here.

Be patient, this is an emerging field

There are plenty of opportunities out there! If you don’t spot the right one, keep checking back as a lot of interesting roles are being created. Some of these new opportunities are in the public sector as more and more cities are creating dedicated digital service teams, and some are newly emerging civic tech startups.

Pay it forward

There is no shortage of eager minds and problems for us to solve. Find ways to support others, and make space for those who might not traditionally have a seat at the table.

Code for America Blog

Writing and thinking about government that works for people, by people, in the 21st century.

Monique Baena-Tan

Written by

design researcher • improving the government hiring process @work4sf @sfgov, follow that project • previous @codeforamerica

Code for America Blog

Writing and thinking about government that works for people, by people, in the 21st century.