Why I’m Coding for Canada: Joey Hua

Joey Hua

January 16, 2019

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“Doing is one of the best forms of thinking.” — Tom Chi

When was the last time you experienced something that resonated within you so deep, you felt it in your bones?

I’ve been fortunate to have had not one, but two of these defining moments in my career; the first was when I took the leap into user experience design.

I had always found fulfillment in positions where I could really see how my work contributed to making other people’s lives better. When I started down the UX career path, it was as if I had found a missing puzzle piece.

As a designer, I’ve been able to not only realize my own dreams but also help clients envision and realize theirs. While I enjoyed doing UX work with small business owners and innovators, I really thrived in the civic tech community, where like-minded, passionate folks rolled up their sleeves and put their tech and design skills to work improving the city.

At Civic Tech Toronto, I joined a group of tech and policy folks concerned about the struggles encountered by individuals seeking shelter from the cold. Through our research, we discovered that people needing respite from the weather were sometimes turned away due to a gap in communication between the primary shelter hotlines and smaller winter respite sites.

So we built Basecount, a tool focused on enabling shelter staff tocommunicate site availabilities. While focusing on filling communication gaps in shelter systems, we found some of our own; the City of Toronto informed us that there were already plans in place to address these issues. While it was disappointing not to see our solution implemented, the experience made me realize how much I enjoyed working at the intersection of technology and public service.

“I realized that Code for Canada was the perfect opportunity to work from the inside, to impact thousands, maybe even millions, of Canadians positively through government services.”

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Through Civic Tech Toronto, I was introduced to Code for Canada, Their tagline, “technology and design for the common good,” really resonated with me.

My experience with Basecount had shown me what it’s like trying to bring about systematic changes from the outside. When I heard about the fellowship, I realized that Code for Canada was the perfect opportunity to work from the inside, to impact thousands, maybe even millions, of Canadians positively through government services.

Which brings me to the second defining moment in my career: becoming a Code for Canada fellow. Every day since onboarding, I’ve met many hardworking people who share my passion for change.

In contrast with my experiences in the private sector, policies carry a particularly heavy weight within government; each action has a predefined reaction. Learning to navigate this environment has been an exciting challenge, and the support provided by Code for Canada — and our government partners — has enabled us to push the boundaries of what’s possible with technology in the public service.

As I said earlier, the best part about being a designer is realizing my own dreams and goals while helping clients realize theirs. I get to do all of that and more through the fellowship. It’s an opportunity to bring my skills and knowledge to bear on impactful public services, while enabling others within government to bring forth the change that they want to see.

And that’s why I’m coding for Canada. I’m tired of just talking about change; I want to feel it in my bones.

If Joey’s story resonates with you, then apply to become a Code for Canada fellow and start using your technology and design skills for good.