skip to Main Content
UCSD & Design Lab Students participate in The Civic Digital Fellowship Program

UCSD & Design Lab Students participate in The Civic Digital Fellowship Program

UCSD & Design Lab Students participate in The Civic Digital Fellowship Program

UCSD & Design Lab Students participate in The Civic Digital Fellowship Program

In 2017 a group of technology students from Harvard found themselves stumped by the severe lack of mission-driven technical internships. Their solution to this problem? Coding It Forward: an initiative that enables young, emerging technologists with the opportunity to use their skills for social good. Since its production, Coding It Forward has grown to include over 6,000 people from all over the country. Today, it offers students a growing plethora of opportunities from government collaboration to social impact organizations. One of its programs stands out from all the others: The Civic Digital Fellowship Program.

The Civic Digital Fellowship Program is a ten-week program that equips students in different fields of technology (from data scientists to designers) to utilize their technical skills for public service; these students are referred to as Civic Digital Fellows. This program is the very first of its kind, and is modeled on four principles: the fellows must be compensated for their hard work through monetary gains, they tackle work with a high impact, their professional careers are developed, and finally, their community is cohort-based. 

To learn more about the wonders of The Civic Digital Fellowship Program, former and current UC San Diego students previously involved with The Design Lab were interviewed about their fellowships.

The collaborative, engaging environment of the Civic Digital Fellowship has equipped all three students with the skills and the passion to pursue greater ventures in the civic design field.


Irene Guo

Unlike most design majors at UC San Diego, Guo initially joined on the pre-med track before discovering design and changing the trajectory of her career. Since then, she has been involved at Fi @ UCSD as a UX Consultant, was a team lead for a collaborative project between The Design Lab and Ford, and was also the Product Design Lead at Platter. Currently, she is completing her final quarter at UC San Diego. Between it all, she was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding it Forward

After applying to the fellowship, and ultimately getting accepted, Guo had to go through a behavioral interview that would determine which agency she would get matched with. “I ended up being assigned to work at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),” she explains, “Where my project was to conduct a heuristic audit of the IRS’s twenty-two most utilized websites, and figure out how to best orient the user experience of the IRS to boost trust and confidence in their online services” Guo elaborates that her experience was unique because it occurred during the thicket of the pandemic. However, she notes that she still found it extremely engaging. “It was  really interesting to see how they work because the IRS normally does work remotely,” Guo continues. “But I was still able to see how powerful ux and product design can really be, and how much of an impact I can make while working for an organization like that. This internship really helped me see the impact of design , and I’ll carry that with me in any design work I’ll do. I will always look for ways to make a positive impact.”

The emerging designer further states that the civic digital fellowship was truly eye-opening for her. “You meet so many talented and passionate people who are optimistic for growth within the government, and can use their experience from working at large companies to help the American people,” says Guo. “I hope to be like that, and I want to stay  involved with social impact and be able to carry forward the work I did during this fellowship.” Guo attributes her zest for social design to this experience and insists that if anybody is wondering if they should apply to the internship, that they do.


Neve Foresti

“What I love about design is how people-focused it is,” says Foresti, “It’s all about people and how they think, and that’s what got me into design.” Foresti is currently a senior completing her final quarter at UC San Diego, with a plethora of experience ranging from being a design intern at FreshForm to being the Director of Communications at Atutu. From October 2020 to December 2020, she was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding it Forward. “I had been interested in civic design for several years but couldn’t find my ‘in’. The fellowship is what got me interested in civic design and public interest technology,” she explains. During the fellowship, Foresti was matched with a team called Census Open Innovation Labs in the US Census Bureau. Her work set out to design a data hub for the Opportunity Project to increase public engagement with the massive amounts of federal data available.  The Opportunity Project is a series of technical sprints that connects people from universities, corporations, government data stewards, and community advocates to use federal open data to tackle problem statements from first-hand experiences. “The program also had a lot of opportunities for networking,” Foresti elaborates, “Every week there were around four to five events that we could go to. I went to so many because I wanted to learn as much as I could and network. I met a lot of people doing amazing, awe-inspiring things.”

While highly passionate about civic technology, Foresti believes that her time as a Civic Digital Fellow equipped her with guidance she would have not gotten otherwise. “The unique thing about the fellowship is that there’s a mentorship program,” she states, “One of the biggest challenges with being a young designer interested in ‘design for good’ is that you’ll often be the only designer on a team. How do you improve? How do you advocate for your value and the value of design as more than just making things beautiful? This is common in government as well as a major challenge with the public interest tech firms I’ve interned with. So I was glad that during the fellowship I got two mentors who helped guide me and that I also got a lot of networking opportunities. It really helped me as an emerging designer.” 


Eric Richards

Eric Richards always had an inclination to “design for good” as exemplified by his individual studies major, Design for Social Innovation. While at UC San Diego, he helped co-found Atutu, a volunteer-run non-profit design studio, was the former Co-President of Design for America UCSD, and was highly involved at The Design Lab. After he graduated in 2020, with both the individual studies major degree and a Cognitive Science degree with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction, he joined Skylight, a digital consultancy that uses design and technology to help agencies deliver better public services. Before that, he was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding It Forward in 2019. “It was a really great opportunity to apply my skills towards public sector challenges,” says Eric. “Because as a part of the fellowship, every civUCic digital fellow gets matched with a government agency and specifically a project that is supposed to serve the public.” During his time in the fellowship, he was accepted as a product manager fellow and worked with a group called 18F; technologists within the General Service Administration, that focuses on improving the user experience of government digital services. “The civic digital fellowship opened up a lot of doors for me,” Richards explains. “I got to meet a bunch of people working within the civic technology field and attend a lot of networking events. It actually helped introduce me to some people who worked at Skylight, who helped me get an internship there.” This internship would later turn into a full-time job.

His favorite part, he says, is being connected to other students with similar passions for mission-driven work, social good, and public benefit. “I’d never been a part of a community so passionate about that sort of thing before,” he states. “All of these students come from different backgrounds and schools…[so] it’s really cool to just be a part of the program. Even today, though it’s been a few years since I’ve been involved with the fellowship, I still highly recommend anyone to apply.”

 

In 2017 a group of technology students from Harvard found themselves stumped by the severe lack of mission-driven technical internships. Their solution to this problem? Coding It Forward: an initiative that enables young, emerging technologists with the opportunity to use their skills for social good. Since its production, Coding It Forward has grown to include over 6,000 people from all over the country. Today, it offers students a growing plethora of opportunities from government collaboration to social impact organizations. One of its programs stands out from all the others: The Civic Digital Fellowship Program.

The Civic Digital Fellowship Program is a ten-week program that equips students in different fields of technology (from data scientists to designers) to utilize their technical skills for public service; these students are referred to as Civic Digital Fellows. This program is the very first of its kind, and is modeled on four principles: the fellows must be compensated for their hard work through monetary gains, they tackle work with a high impact, their professional careers are developed, and finally, their community is cohort-based. 

To learn more about the wonders of The Civic Digital Fellowship Program, former and current UC San Diego students previously involved with The Design Lab were interviewed about their fellowships.

The collaborative, engaging environment of the Civic Digital Fellowship has equipped all three students with the skills and the passion to pursue greater ventures in the civic design field.


Irene Guo

Unlike most design majors at UC San Diego, Guo initially joined on the pre-med track before discovering design and changing the trajectory of her career. Since then, she has been involved at Fi @ UCSD as a UX Consultant, was a team lead for a collaborative project between The Design Lab and Ford, and was also the Product Design Lead at Platter. Currently, she is completing her final quarter at UC San Diego. Between it all, she was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding it Forward

After applying to the fellowship, and ultimately getting accepted, Guo had to go through a behavioral interview that would determine which agency she would get matched with. “I ended up being assigned to work at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),” she explains, “Where my project was to conduct a heuristic audit of the IRS’s twenty-two most utilized websites, and figure out how to best orient the user experience of the IRS to boost trust and confidence in their online services” Guo elaborates that her experience was unique because it occurred during the thicket of the pandemic. However, she notes that she still found it extremely engaging. “It was  really interesting to see how they work because the IRS normally does work remotely,” Guo continues. “But I was still able to see how powerful ux and product design can really be, and how much of an impact I can make while working for an organization like that. This internship really helped me see the impact of design , and I’ll carry that with me in any design work I’ll do. I will always look for ways to make a positive impact.”

The emerging designer further states that the civic digital fellowship was truly eye-opening for her. “You meet so many talented and passionate people who are optimistic for growth within the government, and can use their experience from working at large companies to help the American people,” says Guo. “I hope to be like that, and I want to stay  involved with social impact and be able to carry forward the work I did during this fellowship.” Guo attributes her zest for social design to this experience and insists that if anybody is wondering if they should apply to the internship, that they do.


Neve Foresti

“What I love about design is how people-focused it is,” says Foresti, “It’s all about people and how they think, and that’s what got me into design.” Foresti is currently a senior completing her final quarter at UC San Diego, with a plethora of experience ranging from being a design intern at FreshForm to being the Director of Communications at Atutu. From October 2020 to December 2020, she was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding it Forward. “I had been interested in civic design for several years but couldn’t find my ‘in’. The fellowship is what got me interested in civic design and public interest technology,” she explains. During the fellowship, Foresti was matched with a team called Census Open Innovation Labs in the US Census Bureau. Her work set out to design a data hub for the Opportunity Project to increase public engagement with the massive amounts of federal data available.  The Opportunity Project is a series of technical sprints that connects people from universities, corporations, government data stewards, and community advocates to use federal open data to tackle problem statements from first-hand experiences. “The program also had a lot of opportunities for networking,” Foresti elaborates, “Every week there were around four to five events that we could go to. I went to so many because I wanted to learn as much as I could and network. I met a lot of people doing amazing, awe-inspiring things.”

While highly passionate about civic technology, Foresti believes that her time as a Civic Digital Fellow equipped her with guidance she would have not gotten otherwise. “The unique thing about the fellowship is that there’s a mentorship program,” she states, “One of the biggest challenges with being a young designer interested in ‘design for good’ is that you’ll often be the only designer on a team. How do you improve? How do you advocate for your value and the value of design as more than just making things beautiful? This is common in government as well as a major challenge with the public interest tech firms I’ve interned with. So I was glad that during the fellowship I got two mentors who helped guide me and that I also got a lot of networking opportunities. It really helped me as an emerging designer.” 


Eric Richards

Eric Richards always had an inclination to “design for good” as exemplified by his individual studies major, Design for Social Innovation. While at UC San Diego, he helped co-found Atutu, a volunteer-run non-profit design studio, was the former Co-President of Design for America UCSD, and was highly involved at The Design Lab. After he graduated in 2020, with both the individual studies major degree and a Cognitive Science degree with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction, he joined Skylight, a digital consultancy that uses design and technology to help agencies deliver better public services. Before that, he was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding It Forward in 2019. “It was a really great opportunity to apply my skills towards public sector challenges,” says Eric. “Because as a part of the fellowship, every civUCic digital fellow gets matched with a government agency and specifically a project that is supposed to serve the public.” During his time in the fellowship, he was accepted as a product manager fellow and worked with a group called 18F; technologists within the General Service Administration, that focuses on improving the user experience of government digital services. “The civic digital fellowship opened up a lot of doors for me,” Richards explains. “I got to meet a bunch of people working within the civic technology field and attend a lot of networking events. It actually helped introduce me to some people who worked at Skylight, who helped me get an internship there.” This internship would later turn into a full-time job.

His favorite part, he says, is being connected to other students with similar passions for mission-driven work, social good, and public benefit. “I’d never been a part of a community so passionate about that sort of thing before,” he states. “All of these students come from different backgrounds and schools…[so] it’s really cool to just be a part of the program. Even today, though it’s been a few years since I’ve been involved with the fellowship, I still highly recommend anyone to apply.”

 

In 2017 a group of technology students from Harvard found themselves stumped by the severe lack of mission-driven technical internships. Their solution to this problem? Coding It Forward: an initiative that enables young, emerging technologists with the opportunity to use their skills for social good. Since its production, Coding It Forward has grown to include over 6,000 people from all over the country. Today, it offers students a growing plethora of opportunities from government collaboration to social impact organizations. One of its programs stands out from all the others: The Civic Digital Fellowship Program.

The Civic Digital Fellowship Program is a ten-week program that equips students in different fields of technology (from data scientists to designers) to utilize their technical skills for public service; these students are referred to as Civic Digital Fellows. This program is the very first of its kind, and is modeled on four principles: the fellows must be compensated for their hard work through monetary gains, they tackle work with a high impact, their professional careers are developed, and finally, their community is cohort-based. 

To learn more about the wonders of The Civic Digital Fellowship Program, former and current UC San Diego students previously involved with The Design Lab were interviewed about their fellowships.

The collaborative, engaging environment of the Civic Digital Fellowship has equipped all three students with the skills and the passion to pursue greater ventures in the civic design field.


Irene Guo

Unlike most design majors at UC San Diego, Guo initially joined on the pre-med track before discovering design and changing the trajectory of her career. Since then, she has been involved at Fi @ UCSD as a UX Consultant, was a team lead for a collaborative project between The Design Lab and Ford, and was also the Product Design Lead at Platter. Currently, she is completing her final quarter at UC San Diego. Between it all, she was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding it Forward

After applying to the fellowship, and ultimately getting accepted, Guo had to go through a behavioral interview that would determine which agency she would get matched with. “I ended up being assigned to work at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),” she explains, “Where my project was to conduct a heuristic audit of the IRS’s twenty-two most utilized websites, and figure out how to best orient the user experience of the IRS to boost trust and confidence in their online services” Guo elaborates that her experience was unique because it occurred during the thicket of the pandemic. However, she notes that she still found it extremely engaging. “It was  really interesting to see how they work because the IRS normally does work remotely,” Guo continues. “But I was still able to see how powerful ux and product design can really be, and how much of an impact I can make while working for an organization like that. This internship really helped me see the impact of design , and I’ll carry that with me in any design work I’ll do. I will always look for ways to make a positive impact.”

The emerging designer further states that the civic digital fellowship was truly eye-opening for her. “You meet so many talented and passionate people who are optimistic for growth within the government, and can use their experience from working at large companies to help the American people,” says Guo. “I hope to be like that, and I want to stay  involved with social impact and be able to carry forward the work I did during this fellowship.” Guo attributes her zest for social design to this experience and insists that if anybody is wondering if they should apply to the internship, that they do.


Neve Foresti

“What I love about design is how people-focused it is,” says Foresti, “It’s all about people and how they think, and that’s what got me into design.” Foresti is currently a senior completing her final quarter at UC San Diego, with a plethora of experience ranging from being a design intern at FreshForm to being the Director of Communications at Atutu. From October 2020 to December 2020, she was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding it Forward. “I had been interested in civic design for several years but couldn’t find my ‘in’. The fellowship is what got me interested in civic design and public interest technology,” she explains. During the fellowship, Foresti was matched with a team called Census Open Innovation Labs in the US Census Bureau. Her work set out to design a data hub for the Opportunity Project to increase public engagement with the massive amounts of federal data available.  The Opportunity Project is a series of technical sprints that connects people from universities, corporations, government data stewards, and community advocates to use federal open data to tackle problem statements from first-hand experiences. “The program also had a lot of opportunities for networking,” Foresti elaborates, “Every week there were around four to five events that we could go to. I went to so many because I wanted to learn as much as I could and network. I met a lot of people doing amazing, awe-inspiring things.”

While highly passionate about civic technology, Foresti believes that her time as a Civic Digital Fellow equipped her with guidance she would have not gotten otherwise. “The unique thing about the fellowship is that there’s a mentorship program,” she states, “One of the biggest challenges with being a young designer interested in ‘design for good’ is that you’ll often be the only designer on a team. How do you improve? How do you advocate for your value and the value of design as more than just making things beautiful? This is common in government as well as a major challenge with the public interest tech firms I’ve interned with. So I was glad that during the fellowship I got two mentors who helped guide me and that I also got a lot of networking opportunities. It really helped me as an emerging designer.” 


Eric Richards

Eric Richards always had an inclination to “design for good” as exemplified by his individual studies major, Design for Social Innovation. While at UC San Diego, he helped co-found Atutu, a volunteer-run non-profit design studio, was the former Co-President of Design for America UCSD, and was highly involved at The Design Lab. After he graduated in 2020, with both the individual studies major degree and a Cognitive Science degree with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction, he joined Skylight, a digital consultancy that uses design and technology to help agencies deliver better public services. Before that, he was a Civic Digital Fellow with Coding It Forward in 2019. “It was a really great opportunity to apply my skills towards public sector challenges,” says Eric. “Because as a part of the fellowship, every civUCic digital fellow gets matched with a government agency and specifically a project that is supposed to serve the public.” During his time in the fellowship, he was accepted as a product manager fellow and worked with a group called 18F; technologists within the General Service Administration, that focuses on improving the user experience of government digital services. “The civic digital fellowship opened up a lot of doors for me,” Richards explains. “I got to meet a bunch of people working within the civic technology field and attend a lot of networking events. It actually helped introduce me to some people who worked at Skylight, who helped me get an internship there.” This internship would later turn into a full-time job.

His favorite part, he says, is being connected to other students with similar passions for mission-driven work, social good, and public benefit. “I’d never been a part of a community so passionate about that sort of thing before,” he states. “All of these students come from different backgrounds and schools…[so] it’s really cool to just be a part of the program. Even today, though it’s been a few years since I’ve been involved with the fellowship, I still highly recommend anyone to apply.”

 

Read Next

Surveillance Drones San Diego

Chula Vista PD Approved For Broader Use Of Drones In Law Enforcement

Photo courtesy of Shalina Chatlani

The Chula Vista Police Department has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to broaden its use of drones.

Still, some academics say drones can be seen as a form of surveillance. And that having a video doesn’t necessarily mean that officers are making neutral decisions.

"Say you’re getting a call from someone acting erratic … like what would a drone be able to see that would discern a person screaming and waving their hands around as someone who needs intervention by the police, versus a mental health team?" said Lilly Irani, a professor of communication and technology at UC San Diego (and Design Lab faculty).

Even if officers are using video to see whether a situation is dangerous, human bias doesn’t just go away, she said.

"OK, so what type of visual symbols are you going to look for to discern the difference between dangerous and nondangerous?" Irani said.
CHI 2019 Conference In Glasgow, Scotland

Design Lab Weaves the Threads of CHI 2019

From May 4-9, 2019, the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems took place in Glasgow, Scotland. Called “CHI” for short, this annual and prominent event brings together thousands of the world’s leading researchers, designers, and scientists in human-computer interaction. 

Design Lab members walked away with a number of awards for their research. Post-doctoral Fellow Sarah Fox won a Best Paper Award for “Managerial Visions: Stories of upgrading and maintaining the public restroom with IoT”.
Design Lab Spaces Colleen Emmenegger Jim Hollan Education

Design Lab & UCSD Spaces strive for Educational Equity Through Design

Who better to learn about good design than the people who will most benefit from…

Design Lab Uc San Diego Ailie Fraser Tricia Ngoon

CHI 2018 Conference Spotlights Design Lab Work

This year’s ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems — more commonly known…

Eating Disorders

Health Tracking Apps Provide a Worrying Pipeline to Eating Disorders. Better Tech Design Can Fix That.

Image Credit: Getty

In an email to The Swaddle, Design Lab member Elizabeth Eikey discuss her research into the behaviors of women with eating disorders who also used weight loss apps.

“Users go through stages of use and report both positive and negative effects of the app at these various stages,” Eikey writes. “As users reflect back on their journey, they talk a great deal about the negative effects of the app during the early stages of use. However, when they first began using the app, they often did not realize their behaviors were indicative of an eating disorder and even found the app helpful.”

Even though Eikey’s research states that some users could self-motivate themselves to recover with the help of the app, the fact that the app pushed them towards or exacerbated an eating disorder is damning enough.

Eikey explains that disordered eating and unhealthy weight loss practices are common, and therefore cannot be ignored as a fringe problem that doesn’t affect the majority of an app’s user base. “Even if a person doesn’t meet the ‘threshold’ for a clinical eating disorder, that doesn’t mean that they never experience negative emotions related to their body and food. Everyone has mental health, and it fluctuates,” she says.
Brian LeDuc

Brian Leduc on Learning Agility & Career Changers | Design Chats


Brian LeDuc, Design Lab Designer-In-Residence, talks about his work on creating resources for career changers.

Design Chats is a video series where we sit down with design practitioners to answer questions about how they utilize human-centered design.

View our Design Chats playlist on the Design Lab YouTube Channel
Back To Top