From One Fellow To Another

As Code For Victoria draws to a close, we farewell some of the incredible Fellows we’ve worked with over the past few months.

Through frustrations and achievements, our cohort of Fellows have been relentless. They’ve created beautiful work, new friendships and allies, and have paved the way for future generations of #CivicTech crusaders.

In one last request for generosity, we asked what advice they’d give to anyone thinking about joining us for a Fellowship, or working in the greater CivicTech space.


1. Show, Don’t Tell

Collaboration and working as a team has been key — be open to learn new things from your teammates as well as the other way around. You’re most likely put in a completely new context + culture → embrace it, learn from it, and be your government partner’s critical friend by showing (not telling) how things can be done differently.

Rikke Winther-Sørensen, Design Engineer, 2016 Fellow


2. Get Creative

You will learn about variety of issues between the general public and the government. Then, thinking about the possible solutions, you’ll need to spark your creativity to make new ways forward or considerably improve the old solution. On the other hand, you’ll also need to know things go very slow in government. Be well prepared for that and build connections with the right people to support you when necessary.

Kasra Majbouri, Front-end and Backend Developer, 2016 Fellow


3. Talk To Your Users

Start by deeply defining the problem — government partners likely will have lots of ideas that they are super excited about, but often the user is overlooked. Figure out who the end user is, talk to them, look at all the data your department has on the matter and define a baseline that you can measure success against before you start building.

Becca Blazak, Product Manager, 2016 Fellow


4. Use Your Networks

Make sure to use every possible avenue to get around bureaucratic red tape. You have a huge network of professionals to bypass ‘blockers’.

Arnham Markac, UI / UX Digital Designer, 2016 Fellow


5. Break Things Down, Then Build Them Up

Be prepared to open your mind to new technologies and to break down traditional IT silos. You should be prepared to build better relations between IT teams and organisations.

Christian Arevalo, Software Engineer, 2016 Fellow


6. Always Have A Backup Plan

Show what’s possible, prototype and iterate. You will learn from your users and will have to educate your stakeholders, particularly with concepts they’re not familiar with. Lastly, make sure you have a backup plan because… Murphy’s Law.

Johan Codinha, Full Stack Developer, 2016 Fellow


7. Be Clear

My advice for new fellows will be to be clear all the time about the project, not only with the client but also amongst the group. Most importantly, be clear and open with their team about what their expectations are about the experience (especially how they will work, set some rules, etc) and what they really expect to achieve. Finally, try to enjoy the different stages of the project, as well as learn as much as you can!

Diana Ramirez, Front-end Designer and Developer, 2016 Fellow


8. Follow Through

Be patient in dealing with people and persevere in achieving the goal that your team agreed on, every step of the way.

Elmer Ibayan, Developer, 2016 Fellow


9. Have Empathy

Most problems will be people problems not tech problems. Throwing tech at it often makes it worse. Be an active listener, talk to everyone, be humble, be naive, ask stupid questions. Most of what government does is service, so you should approach it as human centred service design.

Ken Mok, UX / Service Designer, 2016 Fellow


10. Don’t Forget What Brought You Here

Never forget that we are dreamers who want to do things, thinking of the common good. As we strongly believe that we are not the only ones, work together with passion and enthusiasm to help make ours and others’ dreams come true.

Recuerda siempre que somos soñadores y que uno de nuestros más ambiciosos sueños es hacer las cosas pensando en el bien común de todos. Y estamos seguros que no somos los únicos, por eso trabajamos juntos con dedicación, voluntad y entusiasmo para ayudar que nuestros sueños y el de los demás se hagan realidad.”

Veronica Farias, DevOps & UX Designer, 2016 Fellow


11. Wait For That MVP Moment

1. Engaging content makes production & consumption more enjoyable.

2. Internal motivation is incredibly important. I don’t know how to capitalise on that broadly speaking without quoting Dead Poets Society.

3. The MVP payoff in about the first month is priceless.

4. It’s just like a 6 month hackathon only for realzie.

Benjamin Minerds, Polygot Developer (PuZZleDucK), 2016 Fellow