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Transitioning into government as a technologist: next steps and resources

U.S. Digital Response
U.S. Digital Response
5 min readAug 28, 2023


USDR’s Governments Team Lead gives advice on how to transition your career from the private tech sector to government
By: Rebecca Heywood

We’ve spent the last few posts exploring what you should consider if you’re exploring a career transition into government and covering what you need to know about how government hiring works.

You may be asking yourself: What do I do next? In this post, I’ll provide some resources depending on where you are in your journey, including some things to read, resources to watch, and communities to consider joining.

Dipping Your Toe into Civic Tech

Are you intrigued by civic tech but not quite ready to change your job or career? There are some different options out there to gain some experience and continue learning:

  • Consider volunteering with us here at U.S. Digital Response (USDR). To date, we’ve placed over 1,000 volunteers from all backgrounds on 8–16 week remote, part-time projects with governments across the country.
  • Look into volunteering opportunities through your workplace. In San Francisco, for instance, the City runs a 16-week program, Civic Bridge, to partner with local companies to work with City staff on different projects.
  • Other places that provide volunteer opportunities to technologists in the broader social impact space include DataKind (data science focus) and DemocracyLab, among many others!
  • Connect with your local civic tech community. The Alliance of Civic Technologists is a great place to start, a new organization focused on connecting volunteer civic technology efforts, in both technology and advocacy, in their local communities.

Ready for a structured introduction to government?

Want to join government, but have a more formal structure around the experience? Consider applying for a fellowship program. Many exist with different focuses across the country, including those listed below.

Early Career

Mid-to-Senior Career

  • Presidential Innovation Fellowship: 12–24 month fellowship for mid-to-senior career technologists, designers, entrepreneurs, and strategists to serve as an entrepreneur-in-residence at a federal agency
  • FUSE Corps: 12-month fellowship in local government for executive leaders with at least 15 years of experience
  • Federation of America Impact Fellowship: selective fellowship program that supports the development and placement of emerging scientific and technical talent within high-impact roles across the federal government

Ready to make the jump

Are you sold and ready to begin the next stage of your career in government? Congratulations! Make sure you’ve read parts one and two of our series and good luck on your job search.

Keep an eye on civic tech and public interest tech job boards

There are lots of job boards out there that work to compile tech and innovation jobs in government and social impact organizations. In addition, if you have a particular jurisdiction you want to work for, an internet search will help you find open roles that may not have made it onto any of these job boards, or LinkedIn.


While most jobs in government will always be posted, meeting folks in your local civic tech and gov tech communities can help you understand how the jurisdiction is set up, and what types of teams you may be interested in.

Check out job fairs and other opportunities to hear from and meet potential future colleagues. Some jurisdictions hold their own, but keep an eye on the Tech to Gov job fairs explicitly focused on technologists looking to transition into government, hosted by a coalition of organizations in the civic tech space, including USDR. The next job fair is coming up on October 24, 2023.

Raise Your Hand

Tech Talent Project helps match and place executive-level technical leaders in federal and state government. Some jurisdictions have teams, such as New York City Mayor’s Office of Appointments, that recruit executive leaders from all fields.

Resources to Read and Investigate

Regardless of where you are in your journey, there are great resources to help you learn from others who have been through it. Some of my favorites are listed below.


  • A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide by Cyd Harrell (Currently the Chief Digital Services Officer at the City and County of San Francisco)
  • Recoding America: Why Government Is Failing in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better by Jen Pahlka (founder and former executive director of Code for America; current USDR board chair)
  • Power to the Public: The Promise of Public Interest Technology by Tara Dawson McGuinness and Hana Schank

Posts from people who have transitioned into or worked in government

Slack Groups and Communities

Interested in using your skills to help people in your community?

From UX researchers to content strategists and more, there’s an opportunity for technologists to volunteer with USDR. Learn more about USDR or sign up to volunteer your time at

Have more questions? Watch a recording of a past Volunteer Info Session or register to attend an upcoming session.



U.S. Digital Response
U.S. Digital Response

Connecting governments and nonprofits with pro bono technologists and assistance to quickly respond to the critical needs of the public.