Why I’m Coding for Canada

2017 Code for Canada fellow Christine Lee reflects on why she brought her product management skills to the public service

After leaving a previous role where I led a product team delivering business-to-business telecommunications experiences, I thought a lot about the next step in my career. I knew I wanted my work to reflect three priorities: contributing to society, solving complex problems, and maximizing opportunities to be creative.

In short, I was looking to contribute the skills I had honed over the years back into society — my version of ‘time of service.’

I had been curious about how the government builds technology. Is it in-house or outsourced? How much do these things cost? Does the government have mature product development practices? Do they even have PMs?! How closely does policy work (or not work) with tech?

Given policy is centred around the needs of the public, why is it that the digital products they ship seldom appear as centred around the end user? I asked myself why can’t it be better and how can I help?

“Designing and building a product where the overarching KPI is to deliver positive social impact has been a delight.”

Leaning into this curiosity, I was intrigued by the unique opportunity that the Code for Canada fellowship presented. They wedged open a space where one could build impactful experiences that serve public needs while working in close partnership with policy teams and without the requirement of being “Government.” I saw an opportunity to drive and imprint change working from the inside-out.

And that’s why I’m coding for Canada. Through this experience I’ve been able to answer all those questions I had, and more than that, I’ve been able to shape how those questions will be answered in the future.

There will be more to reflect on once our term is complete, but in a nutshell — designing and building a product where the overarching KPI is to deliver positive social impact has been a delight.

Applications for the 2018 Code for Canada fellowship are open until July 2, 2018. If Christine’s story resonates with you, then apply now and start using your technology and design skills for good.