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A panel of Coding it Forward leaders and fellows speak about their experiences with the Civic Digital Fellowship, and reflect on their time in government.

The Coding it Forward Civic Digital Fellowship recently wrapped its third year. For ten weeks, more than 50 students were immersed in the world of civic technology, embedded at six federal agencies. Government Matters spoke with the leadership of Coding it Forward, and several fellows, about their experiences.


Rachel Dodell/Executive Director, Coding it Forward

“What they do across those ten weeks is they build products and services that serve the American people, whether it helping create better forms for the VA so that veterans can apply for benefits, or whether it’s working at the bureau of labor statistics to automate processes with data.”


Courtney Brousseau/Civic Digital Fellow, Coding It Forward, General Services Administration


“It’s been an amazing experience… Government can do things right in the way that the private sector sometimes does or in the way that government needs to do that will make services effective for the American people. Comparing it to my private sector experience last summer, I often tell people my government team is using modern practices even better than I was last summer.”


Emma Brennan/Civic Digital Fellow, Coding it Forward, Census Bureau

“One thing I learned was that it is so important to draw from the experience from different people in government. I didn’t realize how much there was a disconnect between different communities and government. A lot of times, we talk about the same things and we don’t actually understand the different words behind what we are saying and I think that was an important experience; to bring people from different groups to be on the same page.”


Vinesh Kannan/Civic Digital Fellow, Coding it Forward, Bureau of Labor Statistics

“In my first week, I asked if I could interview one of the [state officials] that classifies jobs. My boss thought it was a weird request, but then the next day, he set up a video call for me. And when I looked through the email to schedule the call, there were 40-60 e-mails that went back and forth within the span of a few hours. Learning that our agencies are willing to move mountains for us to help us succeed was very different than what I had expected.”

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