My career in software development has faced challenges since I moved to Philadelphia. I was both unfamiliar with the city’s tech scene and lacked a professional network. We all know that it takes a great deal of effort to integrate and become part of a local community. Participating in Code for Philly was the most important decision I made when attempting to become a member of Philadelphia’s tech community. Fist, I went to a few of their meetups. This allowed me to see that they were welcoming, professional, and that they were focused on educating their participants. I was impressed by their goal to help the city and it made me passionate about civic tech. Then, in 2017, I learned about Launchpad.

I needed both a project to pad out my portfolio and additional practice with my newly learned Angular skills. I decided to attend Launchpad because I was a job seeker with time to kill. Launchpad encouraged new members to network and openly discuss our ideas about new projects.

I ended up joining MyPhilly, a group dedicated to creating a platform which allowed citizens of Philadelphia to look up their RCO jurisdictions. For the record, an RCO is a volunteer led governing body with jurisdiction over the zoning of parcels of land. If you want to build anything in Philadelphia you have to go through them. Those annoying apartments being developed down the street? If you wish to voice your concerns about them, you should go through an RCO. They have many other roles which you should research, click here for a quick rundown.

MyPhilly’s Path At Launchpad

First, we spent time discussing our goals and narrowing down the scope of what we could realistically deliver within our allowed timeframe. That time frame was right around a month. Then, we organized our team based upon our skills in order to maximize the effectiveness of our project. We agreed that we wanted to create an website utilizing the Angular framework that included a map so that our users would have a visual for the data with which they were provided. Throughout the month, we regularly met to discuss our hang-ups and crowdsource ways in which we could solve any problem which we faced.

The Code for Philly staff regularly checked in with our progress and helped answer any of the questions we could not crowdsource. They even got us in touch with local representatives to help us figure out how to use MapBox. MapBox is An open source mapping platform for custom designed maps. The development team worked together to complete tasks and handle bugs.

The whole development cycle was leading up to our projects being judged by a panel and awards were to be given out at the capstone Launchpad event. Just about the whole team showed up to the event and we all went up and presented the project together. I was rather proud of how far we had gotten as many of the projects hadn’t completed much more than a mockup of what they wanted to do. We had a fully flushed out SPA that had an interactive map and a little bit of polish applied to it. In the end we did not end up winning the main award of the event. I, however, ended up feeling like a winner.

I had gained a great deal from the experience. I had a great new entry to add to my portfolio, had created new relationships within the community and had helped the city that I now call home.

Would I suggest that you participate in the 2018 Launchpad? Yes, if you have any interest in the tech industry of Philly then you have every reason to participate.