This summer, I coded for America as a software development intern. My decision to join the Code for America team contrasts drastically to the plans made by most of my peers. It has become typical for Computer Science students to intern at medium or large software enterprises. I have nothing against that trend, but I felt that coding for America would be a deeply fulfilling experience this summer. Despite the atypical nature of my decision, I have no doubt that it was the most all-around rewarding path I could have chosen.
Technological innovation has long been one of the most prominent drives for improvement in the commercial world. Despite the tie between commerce and innovation, I have never once found true interest in a subject due to its economic principles alone. For the entire length of my involvement with tech — a whopping three years — the concepts and projects that have motivated me the most were characterized by large social impact. Code for America’s a non-profit, removing commercial motives and enabling relatively agile advancements directly to sources that will help people. This unique circumstance gives CfA a socially impactive aspect that synergizes well with my personal background and ideals.
Had I been born a short two years early, I could not be sitting here at the Code for America office right now. This is no chaos theory or Ashton Kutcher reference. I am from an underprivileged background and grew up in a small rural town in Northern California. The people and resources there were hardly conducive to academia and mostly ignorant of technology and innovation. If not for organizations like UCLA CEED and CODE2040, I would not have encountered the proper context for driving my education and career in technology. Just a two year difference would have made many of my opportunities inaccessible. As a “product” of multiple socially conscious initiatives, I understand how much positive change can be induced when good people work for a good cause. For this reason, I aspire to use my technical skills to give back and make equally challenging and profound change.
I have had the chance to contribute to innovative ideals that blend open data with government. This is a combination that I truly believe is pertinent to countless advancements that need to be made throughout the country. Coding for America allowed me to fulfill my ideals, do work that I love, and gain experience all at once.
Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.