“I know this might sound cliche, but I applied to Coding It Forward because I wanted to be immersed in an environment that uses technology to drive social change,” said Rice computer science sophomore Lauren Hu when asked about being selected as a UI/UX design fellow for Coding it Forward’s Civic Digital Fellowship.
Coding It Forward’s mission includes creating new pathways for young technology students to get involved in public interest technology, or technology for the greater good. Since 2017, their Civic Digital Fellowship program has allowed over 400 technology students like Hu to help innovate the federal government. The Coding It Forward’s programs like Civic Digital Fellowship has reached over 8000 individuals worldwide.
Each student who applies for the program is vetted through an interview process that matches them with the right agency like the General Services Administration (GSA), the Census Bureau or in Hu’s case, the IRS. Hu’s project focused on modernizing IRS’s intranet platform SERP with human-centric design. She conducted user research via interviews and site data analysis, mapped out high-level system changes, and designed mockups of improved web pages.
When she joined the SERP team, Hu was surprised by how open-minded and passionate her team was. “I had definitely come in with the expectation that people would be resistant to new technology or my suggestions, but that was almost never the case,” Hu said.
The Civic Digital Fellowship gave Hu a chance to explore her diverging interest in a tech internship. She has worked in a variety of workplaces, such as nonprofits and freelancing, and in a variety of fields, such as education and design. As a computer science and cognitive science double major, she could not pass up an exciting opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary setting. “I've definitely had a more interdisciplinary and untraditional background, but one that has opened my mind to the infinite possibilities and impacts that technology has on society,” Hu said,
Despite participating remotely the entire summer, Hu enjoyed the experience.
“All in all, it was an unmatched and amazing learning experience, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the applications of computer science, data science, UI/UX design, or product management in civic technology!” Hu said,
Read more about Coding it Forward and the Civic Digital Fellowship. Undergrad and graduate students can find information about applying at https://www.codingitforward.com/fellowships