September 11, 2020 – By Joanna Moley

When I graduated from Georgetown University in 2018, I thought I should strive for a linear career path, one that would end in the all-important dream job. Now, I can admit I don’t even know what my dream job might be. Internship experiences and two years in the workforce have taught me to approach every professional opportunity with intentionality and embrace the skill-building process instead of narrowly focusing on a specific aspirational role.Thus far, I have started each of my jobs with a hypothesis about what I want to learn and where the opportunity might take me in the long term. Just like in school, I have found that it’s ok when your hypothesis is wrong, you simply figure out why and pivot.

During the summer of 2017, I had the privilege of being selected as a Beeck Center GU Impacts fellow working for Yanbal International, a global for-profit company with a social impact mission. I was based in Lima, Peru and despite being nervous about working in Spanish for the first time, I took the position in order to test the hypothesis that my Latin American Studies degree in the School of Foreign Service meant I wanted to work in Latin America. During my 10-week fellowship, I collected valuable information about what I wanted and didn’t want in my post-graduate career. While I loved the social impact focus of my work, I felt unsatisfied within the corporate structure of the enormous company. It was sometimes difficult to adjust to living abroad, but I also found traveling throughout Peru and making new local friends exhilarating. I noticed that the experience of living abroad was enriched by the support and mentorship provided by the Beeck Center back home, which clued me in to the potential structure of international work I might be interested in after graduation. I took note of every aspect of this professional experience and emerged at the end of the summer with more fully formed goals for my upcoming job search.

woman and man talking to group outdoors under a tent
Joanna Moley judges an English-language spelling bee for students served by the organization where she worked during her time in Medellin, Colombia.

During my fellowship, I solidified my desire to work in Latin America and gained the skills and connections to do so. For my first post-graduate job, I tested a new hypothesis that my ideal job would include working abroad at a small, local NGO, and accepted a position on the communications team of an international education organization based in Medellin, Colombia. I quickly realized that communications is not my calling, and positioned myself to earn a promotion to the role of International Volunteer Coordinator. In this role, I hired and managed a group of international volunteers, all older and more experienced than I was in international service. While I was initially intimidated by this dynamic, I reached out to my personal and professional network for support and resources that helped me successfully tackle challenges such as navigating the Colombian visa process and leading volunteer onboarding and trainings.

After working abroad for a year, I felt surer than ever that my career path was centered around Latin America and social impact work. However, the frustrations of a tiny organization led me towards my next hypothesis, that I would be most satisfied working at a large international NGO with a focus on Latin America based in the US. Specifically, I was looking for a position where I could gain grant management and other transferable administrative skills that my previous position in Colombia had not necessitated. This brought me back to DC, where I currently work on the Latin America team at a mid-sized international NGO. When I began this job, I felt intimidated by all the unfamiliar procedures I had to learn just to catch up, but, through hard work, I learned the administrative skills I needed to become a valuable team player. Additionally, my previous experience at a small, local NGO in Colombia gave me unique insight into the operating capacities of our team’s partners in Latin America, which is invaluable to my programmatic work. Coming from such a small organization, I initially felt anonymous on a larger team. However, I soon learned how to advocate for myself in order to earn more responsibility, and how to lean on my team members for support and mentorship.

As ridiculous as it feels to write “looking back on my career so far…” when that career has only spanned two years, I have learned some valuable lessons that would certainly surprise my college self. I now believe that building a career is not a linear exercise, but is an ever-evolving process, and the jobs you end up in at the beginning of the journey are not as important as the skills you build and the connections you add to your network along the way. I am extremely grateful to the people who have mentored and supported me throughout my professional experiences thus far, and I have no regrets about the paths I have taken. In every position, I built the skills and contacts to help me to move on to the next one, each time getting closer to the fulfilling career that I am striving toward. The key has been seeking out professional experiences and mentors who give me room for growth and push me out of my comfort zone. Each new professional opportunity should be a tiny bit terrifying, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, because that’s when you’ll find the exciting opportunity to grow.

Thinking about how to navigate your career journey with intentionality? Check out the Beeck Center’s Social Impact Navigator to gain a better sense of self and the mindsets and skills you want to develop in becoming a social impact leader.

Joanna Moley is a 2018 graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and 2017 GU Impacts fellow. Connect with her at joannamoley[at]gmail[dot]com

February 24, 2020 | By Alberto Rodriguez Alvarez

So, why did you choose to apply for the Beeck Center Student Analyst position? As a grad student at the McCourt School of Public Policy, I get asked this question pretty often. And the answer is always the same: “Because it is and continues to be the best place to learn new skills as a student, while working to make an impact with the skills you already have”. I’ve been working as a Student Analyst at the Beeck Center since February of 2019, participating in four cohorts and supporting a variety of projects and initiatives. While the focus of my work has shifted over time, what has remained constant is that I’ve had the opportunity to learn and contribute in impactful ways. 

My work in the Beeck Center is within a project called the Digital Service Collaborative which is part of the center’s Data + Digital Portfolio. In this project, I lead action-oriented research on how governments are approaching digital transformation across the United States and around the world. My initial project was under the Exploratory phase of the Beeck Center framework and allowed me to tag along on more than 40 interviews with leaders in federal, state, and local governments who have been part of digital transformation efforts. I learned as they explained how digital tools were transforming their work, identified their pain points on using technology in public service, and developed an understanding of their views of how the government would adapt in the future. 

Related Story: Work With Purpose – The Student Analyst Program

Before coming to Georgetown, I worked in the Office of the President of Mexico at the National Digital Strategy supporting digital transformation efforts in my own government. My work at the Beeck Center offered me a chance to use my past experience to analyze and contextualize our findings and experience a level of access and direct engagement that is difficult to get in any job, let alone on a part-time position or an internship. But at the Center, the process went even further: under the guidance of my supervisors — expert practitioners in the public interest technology field including designers, data scientists, policy makers, and more — I learned human-centered design techniques to synthesize the data and information we collected from more than 70 interviews and turn it into a concise set of learnings and recommendations now published in Setting the Stage for Transformation: Frontline Reflections on Technology in American Government.  

Last summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Beeck Center full-time with new student analysts from other schools across the country who were also excited to work on making an impact through public interest tech. Being a part of this team allowed me to immerse myself in the civic tech ecosystem, this time on the Incubation phase of the Center’s framework. This started with the formal launch of the Digital Service Collaborative. To say that it was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a student is frankly an understatement. I piloted and used the HCD techniques that I’ve previously learned, I got to meet amazing teams doing great work, but most importantly I was pushed to create tools that could help other people, both inside and outside government, to enact change using digital tools for government. I even got to build a strategy around case studies to document how governments in Latin America are approaching policy innovation and speak in a national conference on Decolonizing Civic Tech which started a conversation still taking place today. 

All of this work takes place under the guidance of the Beeck Center Fellows who coach us every step of the way, and Beeck Center staff that hold workshops to teach us new skills and provide space to reflect on our journey towards social impact, through offerings like the Discern & Digest series where students gather each week to reflect on our unique journeys through school, work, and life.

As I complete my last semester as a student in Georgetown I am also finishing my journey in the Beeck Center, this time with the opportunity to lead a working group made up of government professionals, leaders from civil society, companies, and academia focused on Delivering Better Outcomes through User-Centered Policy Making, in partnership with New America’s Public Interest Technology team, the National Conference on Citizenship, and The Rockefeller Foundation. This working group now lets me apply skills that I acquired both in my classes as a Master’s in Public Policy Student and in my time working at the Center, all in the service of creating tools for public servants who want to have a greater impact on their communities.

As I look back and try to synthesize my journey at the Beeck Center, I find myself truly grateful for the opportunity to be in a space where great ideas are discussed, talents are fostered, and friends are made. I also see myself challenged by a cohort of experts and learners that perfectly complement my time as a student, without losing sight of working purposely to achieving a positive impact. And I honestly think there is nowhere else I could’ve done that. 

Alberto Rodriguez Alvarez is a Student Analyst, currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown University. Follow him on Twitter at @arodalv


February 24, 2020 | By Matt Fortier

Students today have myriad job opportunities presented to them: work in the library, the dorms, or a local retail outlet. Others choose internships (paid or not) in their chosen future industry. But what if you have higher goals? What if you want to make an impact on society? What if you want to dive deeper into your own motivations? We’ve got you covered, and today, we open applications for the Summer 2020 Student Analyst program. 

About a dozen undergraduates and graduates, from both our home here at Georgetown and schools across the nation, will get more than the typical summer job experience because we hold the deep conviction that they’re more than employees – they’re the future of social impact leadership. 

Interested? Read the Job Descriptions and Apply

In fulfilling our mission as a training ground for students and preparing students for leadership in the social impact space, we center our approach on experiential learning. Student analysts gain hands-on experience supporting projects across our Fair Finance, Data + Digital, and Sustainable Student Impact portfolios, learning by doing and applying theoretical concepts to real-world problems. What sets the Student Analyst program apart is that in addition to gaining direct experience tackling social impact projects, we accompany students on their social impact journey through fostering reflection and cultivating mutual investment. Let’s explore how this is achieved. 

A key feature of the program is the creation of a Mutual Development Agreement, where students identify 2-3 learning and development goals they wish to achieve over the course of their semester at the Beeck Center, connecting them to their project and portfolio’s broader goals. The process is iterative, with the analyst and their supervisor working to identify not only the appropriate goals for the semester, but also the responsibilities of both the student and supervisor in meeting each goal. For example, Casey Doherty (College ‘20), works with me to support our Social Impact Navigator. She set the goal of improved communication through different mediums and for different audiences (the Navigator calls this Influential Communication & Collaboration). To help her reach that goal, I provided her with relevant opportunities while developing additional resources to enhance her abilities. For example, we’ve designed a Social Impact Storytelling workshop for this spring, to guide students on how to break from their usual academic style. 

Student Analysts in Action

Read first-hand reports from our student analysts on the work they’ve done.

Another aspect of the program that sets us apart from any old job, is that we provide workshops and team-building activities throughout the semester. In addition to our upcoming Social Impact Storytelling workshop, we’ll also be hosting a training session with Data + Digital Fellow Denice Ross giving students practical skills for creating and leveraging a LinkedIn profile, and navigating formal and informal networking opportunities. The Center’s open workspace serves as a great starting place for such a network, as students develop lasting relationships through team-building activities such as a National Archives field trip and kayaking on the Potomac. 

We encourage students to break down silos and bridge gaps through our Discern + Digest series, where students grapple with challenging questions and strive to discover their personal role in working towards the common good. This weekly series provides students an important opportunity to step back from their daily work activities and gain perspective on their actions through reflection and discernment. Given the busy lives we all lead – all too true at a place like Georgetown – putting away laptops and phones (D+D is a technology free zone) and talking through questions about identity, personal responsibility, personal motivation, and self-care, is incredibly valuable. Moreover, Discern + Digest helps students become comfortable not necessarily solving thorny questions, but rather unraveling them, leaving space for silence, discomfort, and uncertainty.

I’ve written this blog in conjunction with the Summer 2020 Student Analyst Program application launch because we hope to attract students who are interested in social impact, who want to apply themselves to our work, and with whom this concept of “more than just a job” resonates. We want to attract students interested in gaining skills for social impact leadership and developing a mindset that embraces reflection and is motivated towards the common good. For students thinking about their role in the greater social impact space and who are ready to immerse themselves in a unique learning opportunity while taking risks and being challenged, we look forward to seeing your applications and getting to know you this spring! 

Excited by this opportunity? APPLY NOW

December 10, 2019 | By Ben Lang

For someone interested in working at the intersection of cities and data, I didn’t find a clear pathway for either classwork or experiential learning here at Georgetown, at first. There simply is no guide for students to work in cities and data unlike the vast amount of resources on social impact at a national level. 

To fill this gap, I researched these types of opportunities and interviewed expert practitioners in this field to create the basis of a resource guide for students like myself seeking to formulate a career path through data and impact in cities.

“Lead your search with causes you’re passionate about, rather than working within data itself.”

– Natalie Evans Harris

As a starting point, I visited Georgetown’s Cawley Career Center last year to better understand what to prioritize when choosing a career. They gave me good input and a helpful framework. That led to a summer internship in my hometown of Atlanta working at a nonprofit devoted to community investment, social impact, and the leadership of Downtown Atlanta.

This semester, I came to the Beeck Center, where I’m working with fellows and partners who have built their careers working in this exact area. Current fellow and former director of Enterprise Information for the City of New Orleans Denice Ross shared with me the importance of finding local leadership that values the same type of innovation as you do.

I’m also supporting fellow Natalie Evans Harris, a former Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and data expert for the National Security Agency, as we finalize a guidebook on responsible data practices. Through the process, I’ve learned the importance of engaging the community and data stakeholders every step of the way to help drive impact. On a more specific level, she’s shared with me the importance of leading your search with causes you’re passionate about, rather than work within data itself. 

As expected, despite my hours of research and interviewing, I did not come up with a one-size-fits-all solution. Luckily, I was able to formulate a few best practices along with a basic framework of where students can enter the field at a local level. 

First, because at the local level you are directly engaging with a community, it is imperative to be aware of your own internal biases. Resources like “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” and “Building Technology With, Not for Communities” are just the tip of the iceberg on the necessary perspectives to keep in mind when working inside any community. To effectively provide equitable solutions, we need to fully understand why and how data work will drive impact.

Second, we should try to find opportunities in impact that fulfill our own personal values before leading with data as a whole. Drawing on the framework I learned from Cawley to formulate my career path (prioritizing your values, interests, personality, and skills), if you do not recognize and pursue opportunities that engage all four categories, what you might gain in external recognition you will likely lack in personal drive. Additionally, the Beeck Center’s own Social Impact Navigator is a great tool for self-assessment before starting a career in social impact. 

With that in mind, here are three attainable ways for students and young professionals to get involved at the local level: 

  • Getting involved with your local Code for America Brigade
    • In cities all across America, the brigades meet regularly to educate, discuss and create tools for local government and impact. Involving yourself with these opportunities allows you to network and grow on a professional and local level.
  • Opportunities in city governments through data, technology, and innovation offices such as offices of CIOs, CTOs and CDOs
    • These offices of government provide the foremost opportunity to manage and use data for public impact from entry-level positions all they to the top. Moreover, outside of data offices, one can take advantage of data in many departments of local government like sustainability, transportation, and education.
  • Careers at nonprofits and foundations like Downtown Improvement Districts (DID) and the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP)
    • Every city has different types of nonprofits, but most cities have organizations committed to data-driven approaches for government efficiency, community investment or simply data for the greater good. DID’s are tax-funded organizations that provide economic development and other services to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors. The International Downtown Association(linked above) is a national organization that helps organize these DIDs. The NNIP is another example of local nonprofits working to use data for the common good.

Working with local data gives people the opportunity to think creatively about new solutions without suffering from as many bureaucratic issues at the national or even state level. One can look to examples from Broward County and New Orleans to see the fantastic innovation done at the local level. This research provides a brief introduction to the important and extensive opportunities for students and professionals to engage with data at a local level and drive impact. 

In the future, I look forward to pursuing opportunities in my hometown to help Atlanta run as effectively, equitably, and efficiently as possible. For me, this means actively searching for roles that balance data and service. While I cannot say specifically what this will lead to, I can already see a more defined framework of paths to follow as I go into my final three semesters at Georgetown and begin the job hunt. 

Ben Lang is a Fall 2019 Student Analyst at the Beeck Center studying Economics and German in the Georgetown College. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @blang716.

September 10, 2019 | By Jillian Gilburne and Dennese Salazar

Student Analysts Jillian Gilburne and Dennese Salazar produced the report How to Get Started in Public Interest Tech: Recommendations for Recruiting Early-Career Tech Talent. The following is an edited version of their findings.

There is a point in every college student’s academic career when they begin to wonder what it’s all for…. It might be the sense that using a freshly minted computer science degree to perform A/B testing on app interfaces feels soul sucking — or they can’t get past the cognitive dissonance of using their design chops to help kids make healthier school lunch choices one day while designing marketing materials for a fast food empire the next. 

While we know this sounds dramatic, it comes from personal experience. In joining the Beeck Center this summer, we realized that we had the opportunity to use our newly obtained knowledge and networks to highlight opportunities for careers in public interest technology and design that combined technical skills with social good. 

While some experts have indicated that the public interest technology movement is currently going through its “tween years,” when tasked with designing a research capstone of our own, we wanted to take on a topic that would be important for the sustainability of this field through its adolescence and into its adulthood — the recruitment of young technologists into public interest and public sector jobs. We wanted to create a project that would allow us to focus on how to better assist early-career job seekers interested in civic tech and government service design positions. 

Much like the popularization of “public interest law” in the 1960s and ’70s, the possibility of a career in “public interest technology” is rapidly winning over the hearts and minds of university students seeking to make an impact in their professional lives. However, in the status quo, many recent graduates are encouraged to start their careers in the private sector and circle back to government after they have gained some experience through the tour of civic service fellowship models offered by the Presidential Innovation and Management fellowships, TechCongress fellowships, Code for America fellowships, New Sector RISE fellowships, or other similar programs. While many before us have found this to be a totally fulfilling pathway, we know that the government’s need for technical skills is rapidly outpacing this approach. And we also know that entry-level job seekers like us don’t necessarily want to start in the private sector and come in through a fellowship — we’re looking for careers we can start and grow in these great civic organizations. 

According to a 2017 NextGov Survey, there are four times as many government IT specialists over the age of 60 as there are under 30. In California, 38% of current Government IT employees are at retirement age or will be within five years. While recruiting top tech talent requires government agencies to compete with well-resourced private sector recruitment teams, organizations like Coding it Forward have proven that younger generations have a strong interest in using their technical skills for good. 

The Design Challenge

Faced with a problem as nebulous and multi-faceted as rethinking the way early-career technologists are recruited into public interest and public sector roles, we started by breaking the project into smaller pieces. We outlined our project objectives, stakeholder and assumption maps, and research methods, and conducted hours of precedent research and interviews with representatives from Code for America, the New America Public Interest Technology University Network, Design Gigs for Good, the team that runs the federal government’s employment website USAJOBS, and the Georgetown University Cawley Career Center. After learning more about the issue area and synthesizing our research, we broke our findings into six major problems facing early career professionals wanting to pursue a civic technology or digital services career:

Infographic of common issues for students
Major problems our research and interviews surfaced based on the status quo for early-career job seekers who are interested in public interest technology. 

To address these problems, we came up with three phased approaches that includes focusing on changes with job boards, career centers, and government teams.

First We Started with the Job Boards

Recognizing that the government hiring process was not something that we could fix overnight, we decided to focus our project on stakeholders who we had access to and who had some degree of agency over their piece of the puzzle.

We started with job boards since they are an obvious entry point for newcomers starting their civic tech journey. Our research was prompted by the belief that job boards can be doing more to orient potential recruits and build up interest in the absence of well-resourced public sector recruitment strategies. After a series of interviews with public interest job board managers and user-experience research with ourselves and other job seekers, this is what we found: 


A major barrier facing the public interest technology recruitment pipeline is that new job seekers often lack context for what their future career might look like. While resources and university partnerships have been developed by organizations like Code for America and New America, newcomers don’t always know where to find them or that they exist. Given that job boards are often the most public facing and frequently used pages for some of these organizations, we believe that they can function as translators between public interest and public sector tech organizations and new job seekers.


As entry-level people begin their career searches, location and work environment often have major influence on the decision-making process. The existing Code for America job board and the data science microsite on USAJOBS have an emphasis on featuring civic technologists with diverse backgrounds, which we greatly appreciated, but we also want job boards to emphasize geographic diversity. Currently, many of these job boards recruit predominantly from large cities, like San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C. While the geographical distribution of jobs is a larger and more complex issue than we could address in a few weeks, we believe that job boards should be doing more outreach to organizations and local governments in smaller, less well-represented cities.


A common misconception that students and entry-level job seekers have is that their career journeys have to be linear. This belief makes the blurred boundaries of public interest and public sector technology especially overwhelming. Because there are so many ways to use technical skills in government or to support public interest projects, there is no formal “pipeline” or “pathway” for newcomers to follow. To combat this, we are proposing that job boards create “are you new here?” pop-ups with links to resources, instructions for access online civic tech communities, and fellowship opportunities.   

Student writing on blackboardToward the end of July, as we carried out an ideation sticky-note session, we began to think about overarching recommendations that would aid job seekers. Photo by Dennese Salazar. 

Then We Consulted with the Career Centers

Through our interviews with the New America Public Interest Technology Network and the Georgetown Cawley Career Center we realized that civic tech barriers start earlier than interactions with job boards. As a current student and recent graduate, we have had firsthand exposure to the discrepancies between public and private university recruitment strategies, and we know that a handful of professors do most of the labor when it comes to providing civic tech specific advice and resources to students. To better understand the design opportunities within the university context, we mapped out our own journeys into this space and made note of the pain points where we could have benefited from clearer guidance. 

Infographic on career path
In order to better understand how we could help university students access the civic tech space, we mapped out our own experiences to identify pain points.


The final product was a “How to Get Started in Public Interest Tech” guide, designed to introduce, entice, and break down what we think a student would need to get started. 

We used recruitment materials from a dozen different civic tech and digital service organizations to put together a list of the most common civic tech roles, scraped 91 job postings on Code for America’s job board using an open source word analytics software to put together the most frequently requested skills, and interviewed current practitioners to develop a better understanding of what civic tech work looks like and the pathways to it. 

Our goal was to not only make something that a student could understand, but also a guide that faculty or career service professionals could use to recommend public interest technology to their students. 

Infographic of important career termsThis is a subsection of our student guide that maps out some of the thematic takeaways we learned during our summer working on civic tech at the Beeck Center. 

And Finally, we Pitched to Government

We know that we are not the first people to take on this project — in recent years, the Office of Personnel Management redesigned USAJOBS, the White House proposed a legislative plan to overhaul federal HR services, and the organization Coding it Forward has placed young tech talent across federal agencies during the past three summers. However, based on the insights and recommendations we collected throughout our research, we have compiled a list of changes that we believe governments could make to help early-career tech professionals find their way into public service. 

First, we think that government agencies should take a cue from recruitment techniques used by the private sector. This could include resume books, which are collections of resumes compiled by a university based on a particular semester and industry that are then sent to employers seeking employees. This would shift the burden of reaching out to desirable applicants to government hiring managers, but also the likelihood of agencies finding a perfect fit. Or increased career fair presence at universities across the country, to ensure that the public sector is able to establish relationships with top talent. This method would include thinking more intentionally about how to convince young people that working in the government will help them to hone their skills and develop new qualifications. Given the skyrocketing cost of tuition and student loan debt, extending federal scholarship programs to tech, design, and management degrees might also help the government agencies compete with the allure of Silicon Valley. 

Second, there are a number of reforms that could be enacted during the hiring process. This could include creating direct hiring permissions for technologists and designers across the agencies — this model has already been tested to recruit short-term cybersecurity experts. This process is not commonly practiced in the status quo due to its complexity and human resources offices with various agencies not knowing of its existence. While more research and clarity is needed, our hypothesis is that this shift would make the recruitment process faster, ensure that those who understand the requirements of the job have more of a say, and bring in temporary hires who could prove the value of a more long-term hiring strategy for technical talent. We also think that developing microsites like the USAJOBS pages for data science and cybersecurity could help to provide specific direction for federal job seekers with in-demand technical skills, and might be a model for further standardizing job posting language across agencies.

What’s next?

For us, taking on this problem through our capstone was deeply personal. During our summer on the Beeck Center’s Data + Digital team, we have been exposed to an innovative and diverse community of technologists and do-gooders who are working to hack and bootstrap our democracy. They work across different sectors, on different topics, and came to this line of work and this community in a multitude of different ways. 

Our capstone project as part of Beeck’s Digital Service Collaborative, an effort in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, has been working to support unification efforts to increase idea sharing and mentoring across a decentralized public interest technology ecosystem, and we hope it will contribute to the ongoing efforts to reduce barriers of entry for university students and early-career professionals. We know that this work is instrumental to the sustainability of the civic tech community in the long term, and we look forward to a future where young technologists seeking out government positions is the norm. 

Dennese Salazar was a Summer 2019 Student Analyst supporting the Data + Digital team who recently graduated from Brown University. 

Jillian Gilburne was a Summer 2019 Student Analyst supporting the Data + Digital team and will return to Northwestern University this fall where she will be a senior majoring in Communication Studies, Political Science, and Human-Centered Design. Follow her on Twitter @JillianGilburne