2013 changed my future.
Early in the year 2013, I switched part-time jobs while I was studying Geoinformatics. I went from an advertising agency where I created web pages for clients to a software consultancy with a whole new level of and appreciation of the software development craft.
This consultancy helped me so much in my development as a developer as well as my view of technology and how a company should be run.
I learned the language they were using (Ruby) and the technology (Rails) in my free time while having a part-time job and going to university. Because I knew I wanted to work for them and improve my developer career.
I got to a point where I was comfortable applying for a student job with them and probably got it by being different. I built a website just for them to try to impress them because I did not have a track record.
A new approach to software development
Their approach to developing software was right up my ally. They used test-driven development, something that I missed sourly in my previous job. We had no testing at all, and stuff broke constantly, and I got more and more frustrated with the speed of the requests and disregard for quality just putting out quantity.
I wanted to create well-crafted software that I was comfortable putting out in the world.
And I learned a lot from that new company. I got better at version control (I introduced version control in my previous job and tried to make them better but failed because it was not aligned with the way they were selling it). I got introduced to Code Reviews (an awesome way to level up your skills) and a new level of collaboration.
Journey into Civic Tech
And I started to use my new skills right away by creating my first civic tech project. (I started that project as a learning opportunity to learn Rails on a real project)
I was involved in local politics and was in a party workgroup for the sports committee for the local city council.
We worked with tons of paper, and almost all of council related documents were printed out. A few people started to use the PDFs the city published in their council information system.
But they were cumbersome to find, and there was no way of knowing when a new document was published.
First civic tech project
So I built a tool to help my political colleagues and me to find those PDFs and council decisions.
My first civic tech project was born.
While working on this project, I stumbled upon Code for America because I was looking at what other people were doing to help politicians and inform the public. They were preparing for the national day of civic hacking, and it was an excellent opportunity for me to get involved. I got awarded one of the silver fork award for the most Pull Requests merged on CfA projects during the summer.
The organizer knew I had an affection for San Diego, so he introduced me to the local brigade.
From Germany to San Diego
During my work with the local San Diego brigade, I had the opportunity to work with the infrastructure committee of the San Diego City council. We created a project to improve the information about capital improvement projects (CIP) and the community planning group input for those.
We created an information portal for CIP projects and used Shareabouts to help the community planning groups with their input.
That’s when I knew I wanted to make this into my profession and work full time on those projects.
Luckily later that year, there was a movement in Germany to form a local chapter of Code for America. I was involved from the beginning in the early discussions and formed a group in the town I was studying in. I ran this local group until I left for Berlin a couple of years later.
The German nonprofit that runs Code for America is the OKF, and we found a way to work together, and that’s when I made the jump to found my own company in 2014.
As you can see, 2013 turned out to be a great year for me.
My current life
I love to help advocacy groups and non-profits make cities and the world a better place. That’s why I love what I do and would not exchange it for a regular job.
I use my software development skills to do good and help others. I am fortunate that I can use my passion to make a living.
I love what I do and if I would not have founded my own company Civic Vision in 2014, I would volunteer my time to do good.
I live with my wife and our dog in a nice flat in the heart of Berlin-West.
I was born in Berlin but moved to a small town Münster where I studied Geoinformatics and met my wife. I played a lot of Softball during my university time and always worked on the side.
I’m @milafrerichs on twitter and almost everywhere :)
Here is a list of my skillsets and libraries I work with.
- Data Visualization & Webmaps
- Data Pipelines
- Geospatial Development
- Open Data/Civic Tech Prototypes
My core libraries/frameworks that I use almost everyday. In parentheses for how long I worked with these frameworks.
- OpenLayers/Leaflet/Mapbox GL JS (8 years)
- D3.js (7 years)
- pandas/numpy (4 years)
- React (3 years)
- rasterio (3 years)
- vega (3 years)
- Svelte (1 year)
My core programming languages that I use regularly.
- Ruby (7 years)
- Python (6 years)
- R (5 years)
Other languages/frameworks I used in the past (not a complete list):
I love to travel
I love to travel and explore the world. Below is a scratchmap of places I’ve been to colored in green.