Code for America Reviews | Glassdoor

Code for America Reviews

Updated July 26, 2017
16 reviews

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3.8
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Jennifer Pahlka
9 Ratings

16 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Strong leadership team with funding to deliver"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Code for America full-time

    Pros

    - well-funded
    - great CTO and strong program management

    Cons

    - fast pace may not be for everyone


  2. "Great Introduction to SF/Bay Area"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Central place to learn about how tech and politics work in the Bay Area

    Cons

    Its sink or swim. Most people sink and there are no lifeguards.

  3. "Product and engineering to help those who need help most"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Code for America full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Do real work that matters. Solid engineering, product, and design. Awesome peers and a practical focus. A stable foundation for doing technology work in an unstable public sector. Good organization-wide communication, metrics, and goal setting.

    Cons

    It's taken several years for the organization to hit its stride; the occasional distraction of bygone priorities.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the momentum towards clear outcomes in the delivery of services.


  4. "On a path to make a big impact..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Code for America full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Few places in the US where you can leverage tech skills to have such a big impact. The work CfA does now improves outcomes for hundreds of thousands of residents, and can scale to millions.

    More recently, have brought in a professional, smart dedicated team which has really turned the place around and put it on the right path. Finally have people who are strong managers and bring strong product experience to the table. More recent C-level hires are outstanding. There are some really smart people with diverse backgrounds to learn from.

    Work-life balance is great and org provides a lot of flexibility.

    Good growth opportunities, and if you're interested in external networking, great opportunities there.

    Benefits seem to be really good for a non-profit (some 401K match), great choice of healthcare plans.

    Cons

    Have had too much voluntary turnover at the senior level. That said, over the past year, there's been a lot less, and it's been mostly the right people.

    The organization can feel stretched. We could use more focus - we are trying to do a lot of things at once, which is understandable with all the opportunity out there, but focus would allow us to see results more quickly.

    While the problems we work on are really challenging and stimulating, the tech itself we use isn't the most cutting edge.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to build up your product know-how. Continue to bring in people who have product organization backgrounds and focus on execution.

    The org has really come a long way in developing a much better culture and increasing communication over the past year. Make sure to keep it up. Don't let external people drive the direction of the organization... continue to follow the lead of smart staff you've hired (and more importantly, the users).


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Breaking new ground in technology and government!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Code for America (More than a year)

    Pros

    It's rare to work at a truly mission-driven technology company, especially one with such deep issue area expertise and such a compelling, and potentially revolutionary, theory of change. The organization is one of the loudest voices to insist that the implementation of policy matters - that efficient and effective government service delivery will determine the fate of our society, and our democracy. Dedication to this mission is the common characteristic of leadership and, as with all mission-driven organizations, this can be a blind spot, a way to excuse poor management. Still, there are ample opportunities for professional development, including online resources, peer reviews, workshops and retreats, as well as a genuine openness to feedback, if not always a consistent ability to follow through on managerial commitments. The organization is now taking steps to improve its professional rigor, focus, and discipline, bringing on a new COO, CTO, and CFO within the past year. With its fingers in a hundred different pies and attention from all over the social impact and technology worlds, especially on the founder, it is a bewildering, humbling, challenging, and inspiring place to work.

    Cons

    The goals, programs, and revenue mix have shifted a lot as the organization has grown into a major nonprofit brand in 6 years, and it can be hard to reconcile all the different threads of programs that have been started in order to define a true organizational identity. This means, inevitably, a high degree of ambiguity org-wide, with various internal and external stakeholders disappointed if their programs aren't pursued. The org isn't always great at ending programs in the right way, and has experienced the associated high turnover rates as a result. But all of that is improving, as CfA has developed a compelling and focused product-scaling-based theory of change, along with a business plan to get itself there.

    Advice to Management

    Revamp the board to focus on fundraising and objective oversight - with fewer friends of the founder.


  6. "not a happy or effectively run place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Code for America full-time

    Pros

    in downtown SF near public transit.

    good benefits: unlimited time off; employer-paid insurance; 401(k) with match; snacks; lunch once a week

    Cons

    very ineffective middle and senior management, resulting in low employee morale

    changes direction constantly, with work thrown away or wasted. seems to be at the whim of the founder, with poor consensus gathering or communication of rationale

    lots of unhappy employees. the vibe is very negative, gossipy, and stressed out, despite lots of attempted fixes (events, parties, speakers)

    Advice to Management

    find a way to manage more without deferring to the ED on every call. Code for America will never be effective if one person is calling all the shots.

    hire great people and let them do their jobs.


  7. "Code For America is Awesome and Hands On for Frontend Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Hands On work directly impacting site by 2nd day, lots of work always to be done, great connections to other startups, great culture, lots of workshops and speakers weekly

    Cons

    None off the top of my head

    Advice to Management

    Would like more organization to individual teams, sometimes one team's work will overlap and it seems they end up doing the same work over.

  8. Helpful (5)

    "Network is great, but you can connect with us in other ways"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Fellow/Software Developer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Fellow/Software Developer in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Code for America full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I met some great people, so I suppose their recruiting process works.
    My fellowship team and city partners were great; I am proud of the work we all did together.

    Cons

    Does not support the longevity of projects
    Does nothing to support open source over closed source
    "Flat structure" leads to huge bias no one takes accountability for
    Staff constantly changing
    Successful projects that are continuing on are happening *despite* CfA's lack of support, but since CfA is primarily a hype machine, they never fail to take credit for it and generate excellent PR.

    Advice to Management

    Decide on a mission statement that is specific, make it very clear what the org's goals are, and stick to those.


  9. Helpful (5)

    "fellow"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Code for America full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    I met great people and I got an opportunity to try new things

    Cons

    Leadership is very bad / non-existent. You are on your own until management sweeps in and makes an executive decision based on a sudden fear that someone (board member, city partner) will be upset by something.

    Advice to Management

    Develop clear mission, stand firmly with it, back fellows rather than throwing them under the bus. Doing this is much more important than throwing parties, buying us jackets, etc. etc.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Employee"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Code for America full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Very collaborative work environment with talented and passionate people doing great work for our cities. Improving human lives through technology.

    Cons

    Though our work is very dynamic and interesting as it impacts people's abilities to live better lives or for local government to work more efficiently, too many changes on the programmatic level can lead to role uncertainties.

    Advice to Management

    I know that management is always striving to elevate our potential, and I would recommend that they stay supportive of our staff.


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