Gianna Uson joined Skylight in January 2021. She's a software engineer who's spent the past few years doing service-related work with mission-oriented organizations such as Coding it Forward and AmeriCorps. Gianna's passionate about using technology in partnership with communities to improve the lives of others.

Ori Hoffer: Tell me about your path to Skylight?

Gianna Uson: While studying computer science in college, I sought opportunities to make an impact in my community. I was involved in a local computer science program for 9th grade girls, where I created lesson plans and taught computer science concepts through Scratch, Python, and HTML/CSS. I also worked as a CS4RI (Computer Science for Rhode Island) Fellow at the Rhode Island Office of Innovation where I drafted a playbook for implementing a statewide computer science equity initiative.

I've always been interested in using my computer science skills for good and found it challenging to find organizations whose mission and values aligned with mine. It wasn't until my final year of college when I learned about civic technology. After graduating from Brown in 2018, I was a Civic Digital Fellow at the U.S. Department of State where I conducted user experience research on the foreign service transfer process and designed an aggregated information portal for foreign service employees.

After the summer working at the State Department, I spent the next two years in service work. I worked in campus ministry, focusing on building community and supporting and advising students. The following year, I served as a residential advocate and volunteer coordinator at a homeless shelter for pregnant and parenting women and their babies through AmeriCorps.

With a desire to get back into tech and an eagerness to continue serving people, I found about Skylight and am here now!

Ori Hoffer: How did you find out about Skylight?

Gianna Uson: I learned about Skylight through a fellow Civic Digital Fellowship alum, Eric Richards, who shared Skylight's job openings in our alumni network!

Ori Hoffer: Why did you decide to join?

Gianna Uson: Having just completed a year of service with AmeriCorps, I knew I wanted to continue working in public service. After speaking with Eric about his experience and reading about Skylight's mission and company values, I knew Skylight was where I belonged because of its commitment to improving the way our government serves us, especially those in the margins.

Ori Hoffer: You've only been here a few months, but what have you worked on so far?

Gianna Uson: I've been working on a project for the Air Force that helps streamline airmxn in-processing. In the past few months, I supported user research and learned a lot about all that's involved when an airmxn gets on base.

I also worked on creating a web application for the Command Support Staff and other personnel who play a role in supporting airmxn throughout their in-processing.

Ori Hoffer: What do you see yourself accomplishing in the next six months?

Gianna Uson: Once the in-processing project is completed, we're going to abstract out code to make it reusable for future projects. This reusable codebase will include a mobile application and a CRUD web app. By creating this packaged, ready-to-use codebase, we'll be able to support the Air Force's efforts by helping other development teams quickly create and deploy mobile applications that ultimately help the overall mission!

Ori Hoffer: Why is this work important to you?

Gianna Uson: The particular project I'm working on is important to me because I'm familiar with some of the challenges that come along with being in the military. Alleviating some burdens through the creation of these projects makes it a worthwhile and important endeavor.

The bigger picture of creating better outcomes for the public through great government digital services is of extreme importance to me because its impact is huge. The government exists to serve the public and it takes a lot in order to do that well and effectively. By partnering with them through the creation of tools and digital services, not only do we impact the work they do, but we also make an impact on the public who receives those services.

Ori Hoffer: Anything you want to add that I didn't ask?

Gianna Uson: Working at Skylight has been wonderful. The meaningful work, supportive environment, and great people I get the opportunity to work with and learn from all make for an awesome workplace!

Ori Hoffer: Gianna, thanks so much for joining the team and sharing your early impressions with us! To our readers, if you're interested in learning more from Gianna or others about Skylight, we'd love to hear from you