The Socrata Intern Report: James Chuang

August 19, 2014 11:53 am PST | Data Rockstars

Three Months at Socrata

It is April 30th, 2014 and I am on a sailboat in the middle of Lake Union with my fellow Socratians. As we sail off into the distance, the sun shines onto the Seattle cityscape. This is not what I had imagined the second day of my Socrata internship would be like, nor would I have ever expected these types of events to be a regular occurrence.

Company Culture

During my three months at Socrata, I learned a lot about the company. One thing I have come to love is the company culture. In my career, I have been lucky to work for companies that had positive environments. Socrata, however, takes the cake.

Working here is like being part of a family. I had the privilege of learning from bright and talented people, every day. Their willingness to take time out of their own busy schedules to mentor an intern is not behavior you see everywhere, nor is their genuine interest of your well being, for that matter. Even as an intern, my feedback and ideas were given the same serious consideration as the feedback of multi-year Socrata veterans. This company values its people. Because of the company-wide confidence in the ability and talent of everyone who works here, I have been able to provide meaningful input that impacted day to day operations. Aside from the community-like atmosphere, Socrata has a great work/life balance. From mandatory fun time to team bonding events, Socratians work hard and play hard. These things definitely make working at Socrata special and remarkable.

Big Projects and Fast Paces

Socrata is a quickly moving company with a large portfolio of diverse customers. I had the opportunity of working with clients around the world. One of the largest projects I had the privilege of working on was with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation sought Socrata to build a data visualization dashboard designed to give a statistical overview of diseases from clinical site around the world. It also helps to facilitate communication between clinics and set standards for data collection. While working on this project, I was given the freedom to propose different data visualizations to convey their message. I loved brainstorming with customers. Coding with Javascript D3 and solving technical problems was both challenging and rewarding. This project was a delight to be a part of.

Another project I was given was refreshing the design of our support portal. This project required a significant amount of research and design work. With little direction and a lot of freedom, I set out to figure out what exactly each of our customers were using our portal for. I talked to our support specialist about common use cases and complaints. I took time researching other support pages to see what they did differently. The new support page you see today is the result of that effort, a much cleaner and easier to navigate site.

I take pleasure in being able to work on various different projects. Every day at work is a little different.  I have grown to love being able to work with various tools and various different people around the world.

Forward and Onward

I really enjoyed my time at Socrata. It is always nice to feel like you’ve given meaningful impact on a company. From its company culture to its overarching vision of open data, Socrata is a great company. I am proud to say that I will officially be joining Socrata as a full-time web developer. I look forward to growing with this company.

The Future of Open Data

Information is a powerful thing. With the increasing push for more transparency and data driven governmental decisions, I believe Socrata has a bright future. The more we make sense of this data and present it in a manner that is easy to consume and understand, the more we can optimize our spending, drive economic development, and bring about a better tomorrow.

Previous Article
Data as a Service, Data into Dollars
Data Into Dollars: Clarifying Construction Communications With Civic Insight

August 20, 2014

Next Article
Data as a Service
Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014