Our 18F team is spread out across the country and comes from a diverse range of backgrounds, but we all at some point became interested in improving the user experience of government. We asked our team: “why did you join 18F?” and got all kinds of inspiring answers.
Interested in joining our team? Check out open positions and how to apply on the TTS join page.
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The 18F Methods site was my first impression of 18F. I was thrilled to learn more about the team within the federal government that is sharing user-centered design practices and putting everything out in the open for others to use. I wanted to be part of the organization that’s helping improve the user experience of government.
- Laura Ponce, UX Designer
I wanted to spend my days doing mission-driven work that would help people, and in 18F I saw a recognition that even though technology is often where problems manifest, it isn’t necessarily where those problems originate. I was super excited about how 18F uses technology as a forcing function to have powerful and human conversations about communication, transparency, equity, trust, etc. — all the things that make for a functioning team (or government) — and I was like ‘I gotta be part of this!’ Still feel lucky to be here.
- Mike Gintz, Change Strategist
I was drawn to 18F because I wanted to help make sure the government validates that the things it wants to create are the things that will help the public, by asking the public about it.
- Ben Peterson, UX Designer
There’s a lot of talk in the tech sector about ‘making the world a better place,’ but there are few arenas of social and civic life more capable of meaningful change than government. I work at 18F because successfully delivering on the mission, and at the scale of government, is crucial to the health and well-being of our democracy and our communities. And when you work at 18F, you get to work with some of the smartest, most dedicated public servants you’ll ever find.
- Ryan Johnson, Content Strategist
“I had worked in journalism and start-ups, mostly in the food space, but was craving something more, and felt a calling to be more civically engaged. I never really pictured myself working in government, but when I found out about 18F—wait, they have a team dedicated to making government services easier for people to use and understand?—I wanted to be a part of it, and have felt grateful to work with such a passionate, dedicated group of public servants ever since.”
- Erin Zimmer Strenio, Content Strategist
I wanted my design work to focus on increasing equity for people, and I’d seen 18F make government services more accessible and share their work so people could build off of it. I was drawn to 18F’s humility in the way they describe their work, and their deep commitment to user-centered design. Those impressions proved true: I found a place I really want to bring my energy.
- Julie Strothman, UX Designer
I had long wanted to work in public service in some way, but never thought there was a place for me in government. When I learned about 18F, I thought ‘Here’s my chance! A government organization that does real user-centered design and cares deeply about delivering for the American people.’ It’s a privilege to make government interactions easier for the public — and for public servants.
- Jeff Durland, Content Strategist
I’d been paying attention to 18F for a few years and saw a lot of parallels between the work in government and the digital transformation work I was part of inside a large health insurance company. I loved the idea of working directly with partners to teach and empower them to thrive on their own. I thought joining 18F would be a great opportunity to do the kind of work I was already doing, in a place where I could make some meaningful impact. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this team and to help improve the way technology helps America.
- Matt Dobson, UX Designer
I believe that design is impactful and can change people’s lives. So, I wanted to spend my time and use my skills to make services better for those who need it. I joined 18F because I believe in the work that’s done here.
- Jacklynn Pham, UX Designer
I wanted to join 18F because it was a place where I could work on improving the interface between the government and the public - to ease people’s access to public services, remove barriers and frustrations, and to increase trust in the government.”
- Igor Korenfeld, Product Designer
I enjoyed my work at past jobs, but at the end of the day I didn’t always feel that I was contributing to something I truly believed in. I wanted to join 18F because I felt confident that while the work might be hard (and it is!), I would know that it matters and I’d be doing it alongside incredible colleagues who are committed to making a difference.
- Julia Lindpaintner, Product Designer
“When two people, who are now my colleagues at 18F, excitedly told me about this organization, I was truly surprised that it existed in government. In my previous roles at other organizations, I was a lone content strategist, pushing teams to communicate in innovative ways for better impact. I joined 18F to be a part of a supportive group of content and UX professionals who are committed to doing the same within government for greater social impact.”
- Malaika Carpenter, Content Strategist
I came to 18F from another agency. I was looking for a mission-driven organization where I could learn, grow, and contribute to making government work better for everyone. I am so grateful to be working alongside the smart, kind, and curious people of 18F!
- Michelle Rago, Content Strategist
I read the The Color of Law when it was first published. Between that book and my formative experience as a technologist in rural parts of the country, I developed a better lens for the divergence in experiences many people have with government. It motivated me to leverage my skills to design impact at scale. I don’t have any illusions that I alone can remedy decades of harm and distrust, but I believe we have an obligation to use the tools we have at our disposal to improve systems and services rapidly.
- Ron Bronson, Content Strategist
I care deeply about making information easier for the public to understand, access, and use to make decisions. I was working toward those aims as a journalist and a technologist when I learned about 18F. I had no idea that there was a government agency working on that as well! I joined 18F to help build public access and understanding so that the government can move closer to the ideal state – serving its entire public well.
- Princess Ojiaku, Content Strategist
I joined 18F back in 2016 after searching for a way to combine my visual design skills with human-centered design—something that most design agencies, even those which are focused on doing good, didn’t make space for or prioritize at the time. While I had succeeded in using design to help political and social/environmental campaigns and organizations, I wanted a more hands-on role in channeling the needs of the people—facilitating the whole process, instead of only making it look nice at the end. I found that and so much more at 18F, getting to work on projects with impact I couldn’t even imagine at the time.
- Aviva Oskow, Product Designer
I joined 18F because I came to a fork in my long career in the private sector: Should I use my design and research experience to increase profits for shareholders, or should I try to address inequities in access to government services? It wasn’t a difficult choice. Projects I’ve worked on are used by millions of people and decisions we’ve made can drastically change outcomes for the public. Big structural change is slow, but I am here to serve as an advocate for my community and make sure people who are impacted by problems are included in the solutions.
- Austin Hernandez, Product Designer
I started working in government tech in 2016 and quickly became a fan of 18F from a distance. Government tech should (and can) be inclusive and easy to use. In 2020, I made the leap because I wanted to work on projects that affected programs that served the public more directly. I was also drawn to 18F’s warm people, structure, culture of empathy, inclusiveness, and growth.
- Dave Luetger, UX Designer
I joined 18F because 18F has an incredible, practical model of change: here, you can design with the public at scale to make their interactions with government easier for everyone, working alongside civil servants throughout the rest of government at all levels. The proportion and impact is immense, the timeline is both finite and generational, and while it can feel like an uphill climb, you can also see the progress you’re helping to make.
- Anne Petersen, UX Designer
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After a start in higher education and a detour into software engineering for the private sector, I wanted to get back to serving people. 18F is a great place to use the skills I had developed to make people’s lives better.
- Neil Martinsen-Burrell, Consulting Engineer
As I progressed in my engineering career, I became less motivated by solving purely technical problems and more motivated by greater missions and values. I wanted to work on problems worth solving, even if they’re harder and need solutions that engineering alone can’t provide
- Eleni Chappen, Consulting Engineer
After spending years working in the tech industry, I was at a crossroads trying to find a way to use the privileges afforded to me to help others. At about that time, I came across a bug in analytics.usa.gov and, noticing it was open source, I fixed the bug and it was patched in production within a few hours. What if all of government technology was like this? Now that was something I wanted to be a part of.
- Andrew Dunkman, Consulting Engineer
I spent two decades as an educator. The work of an educator is a service paid forward to the next generation. It is the work of systemic change, one generation at a time. At 18F, our collaborations with colleagues across the federal government are the much needed systemic change for the people of this generation and the next. I'll get up and give my best self every day for that.
- Matt Jadud, Consulting Engineer
I always wanted to join the public sector but thought that if I did I would have to trade in my skills in modern software development for meaningful work. When I heard about 18F it sounded like a unicorn: a mission-driven organization that does meaningful work on difficult problems while using and advocating for agile and user-centered development
- Carly Jugler, Consulting Engineer
While working on a Puerto Rico Department of Education project, I came across 18F and USDS. Their mission to create better technology services for the government inspired me and my team to create the new School Report Card for the island. Since then I followed the organization, and at the beginning of 2020 I found out that 18F was looking for engineers. Without thinking twice, I submitted my resume. Just meeting 18F team members during the interview process was enriching for me. I'm still surprised that I can contribute to improving the federal government and be part of this awesome team while living in Puerto Rico.
- Edwin Torres, Consulting Engineer
I worked in the private sector for many years, and quite honestly, I was not planning on working in the federal government. I interviewed with 18F on a whim and I'm so happy I did. I was struck during the interview by 18F's long-standing and clear commitment to cultural values, open source, public service, and its mission to transform digital work for the benefit of everyone in the United States. It has been a genuine joy to work with passionate and driven people and attempt to solve difficult problems in government collectively.
- James Tranovich, Consulting Engineer
I had been working at a series of startups with increasing societal impact, but felt like I could be doing more. The combination of teaching new processes and improving technology that 18F practices is the perfect match for me, and you can’t beat this opportunity to make a difference
- Ryan Ahearn, Consulting Engineer
I wanted to help build systems that solve sticky issues, at scale, for the common good.
- Ryan Hofschneider, Consulting Engineer
Before 18F, I worked in and with local governments. I saw how approaches like human-centered design and working in the open could help us serve our public. I looked up to 18F as a part of government doing terrific work and writing on these topics. At the time that I applied to 18F, I was freelancing, and although I had wonderful clients, my health insurance options weren’t matching my healthcare needs. I applied to 18F as a job that would let me serve the public, while also offering the health insurance I needed. Since joining, I have been lucky enough to work on projects related to healthcare access, as well as transportation and public benefits.
- Alex Soble, Consulting Engineer
Prior to 18F, I was a federal civil servant in another agency, happily building products to (hopefully) make disaster response better for the people we serve. 18F was attractive to me as a software development shop using all the “modern” techniques and tools. 18F has actually been a place full of passionate public servants using a broad range of well-established practices and tools to help other agencies adopt good, successful software development practices, and it’s been a hugely rewarding experience to work here.
- Greg Walker, Consulting Engineer
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Mine is extremely selfish TBH. Early in my product career, I kept stumbling across 18F articles that clearly articulated definitions and methods for building technology. From then on my excitement continued and my admiration grew. 18F became my north star, knowing this is where I could learn how to be an amazing product manager.
- Colin Murphy, Product Manager
My background is in journalism, so I’ve always valued work that is driven by informing and supporting the public. 18F’s agile-based model of partnering with lots of different agencies is also fun because you get to become a mini-expert as you work with new people and problems. The timing was important for me too: I joined in summer 2020, when moving toward public service felt particularly meaningful in a difficult year. I’m so proud to be at 18F!
- Emily Theis, Product Manager
In the private sector, I worked to solve problems that just didn't feel like real problems (e.g. optimizing products to get another 0.01% of clicks), and it was starting to wear on me. I saw President Obama's keynote interview at SXSW Interactive in 2017, where he emphasized how solvable many real challenges are with technology. Obama encouraged SXSW attendees to consider applying their private sector experience to public service. I felt like he was speaking directly to me! And he was right, since joining 18F, I have been able to focus on working with agency partners to impact how the public engages with government digital products and services. The problems are real, they're worth solving, and it's a privilege to get to do this work every day.
- Allison Norman, Product Manager
I’ve worked in service organizations for my whole career but I assumed the government, especially the federal government, was too monolithic and staid for me to grow or contribute. But when a friend pointed me to an 18F job posting, I was drawn in by the exciting language of human-centered design, open source, and product thinking. I’m so grateful to be in this community of diverse, talented, and driven changemakers who widen the cracks in the monolith to let the light in.
- Selena Juneau-Vogel, Product Manager
I’ve been a public servant for most of my career, though not always a technologist. When I was asked to help build out the Innovation Office for the City of Oakland, I learned 80% of what I knew by reading 18F’s guides and playbooks. I was blown away, became a huge fan of 18F and its values, and aspired to one day have the opportunity to serve the organization (and maybe even become a playbook-writer myself!). Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that I chose my birthday as the date on which to take the oath of office and start my first day on this dream job.
- Ayushi Roy, Product Manager
I’ve spent much of my career bouncing between nonprofits and the private sector. Despite living and working in D.C. for nearly a decade, I never worked in the federal government. I became a fan of 18F shortly after relocating to the west coast and in 2019 I arrived at a professional crossroads, and decided to redirect my energies towards public service. When I saw a job posting for an 18F product manager role in March 2020, I took it as a sign. Each day since I took my oath of office later that summer, I’ve been humbled by the brilliance and dedication of everyone in this organization.
- Patrick Kigongo, Product Manager
Joining 18F was a chance to apply my whole self to things that really matter — to unapologetically frame problems like a designer and solutions like an engineer, to be an individual contributor who occasionally gets lost in the big picture, to tackle challenges that come at me sideways.
- Nikki Lee, Product Manager
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I think there are many levers one can pull to make a meaningful contribution to society, but working in government has afforded me access to what feels like one of the most direct levers. It also helps that 18F is working on such exciting projects, and bringing proven human-centered and iterative processes to the work.
- Hannah Kane, Account Manager
After spending most of my career in the private sector (advertising and tech), it became clear to me that the user’s experience is everything. A customer’s only interaction with a brand may be through a website or an app, and great user experiences are an opportunity to secure customer loyalty and trust. To me, improving the user experience of government is the same idea. We have an opportunity to build trust and deliver for the American people - to solve problems that truly matter. I wanted to contribute.
- Glenn Grieves, Account Manager
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The magnitude of the problem 18F is trying to help solve. This problem won’t be solved in a generation, and I like challenges.
- Alan Brouilette, Chief of Staff
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When I joined 18F, I had been in the federal acquisition field for over 10 years and I knew that the government’s traditional way of buying software was not working but I couldn’t figure out why. When I learned about 18F and its tech procurement innovations, I just knew I had to be a part of such a dedicated and passionate team that not only wants to help agencies provide better digital services but also strives to make procurement joyful! I am very proud of the work we do at 18F and our commitment to serve the public.
- Miatta Myers, Acquisition Lead
I was a contracting officer for about 15 years before joining 18F. I was growing frustrated by the status quo and was interested in the idea of experimenting with new approaches to contracting for IT services. I also wanted to learn more about the digital services I was buying on behalf of my customers, and thought 18F would help me become a better buyer. It’s been a great experience and I love being able to work with other contracting officers that have similar interests in improving the nature of procurement. I’ve found the vast majority of procurement folks we’ve worked with are excited about the prospect of trying new approaches, and it’s led to better outcomes and helped expand the marketplace.
- Randy Hart, Acquisition Lead