2020 Best Invention

Learn More about Engineering at Upsolve

In a Nutshell

Upsolve helps low-income families in financial distress access their legal and financial rights, through tech products, community, and education. Our mission is to fight for a legal and financial system we can all access. Our first product, a web app that helps families file for bankruptcy for free, has relieved $300 million+ in debt for low-income families suffering from medical bills, predatory loans, and layoffs. Today, Upsolve has 150,000+ members. Named to TIME’S 100 Best Inventions of 2020. Upsolve is fighting for racial, economic, and social justice at scale. Read more about what it's like to be an engineer at Upsolve below.

Written by Upsolve Team.  
Updated August 31, 2021


Introduction

In our conversations with engineers exploring new opportunities, we've repeatedly heard two common themes: (1) I want to learn and grow technically, (2) I want to have a large concrete impact on the world.

To give you a sense of what you'd learn as an engineer at Upsolve and the kind of impact you'd have on the lives of real people from day one, we wanted to share the information below.

A Sampling of the Technical Learning Opportunities

  • Exploring state machines and the actor model to build an interviewing UI framework to drive all our tools supporting self-representation in financial/legal matters. Extending from that, turning those machines into state charts and build internal tools that can help the team visualize and maintain knowledge about why questionnaires/code are the way they are, so we tackle more edge cases and not get lost. Once we do this, open source the patterns/approach to the rest of the civic/gov/political/social tech community (was attempted by healthcare.gov engineers, but they didn’t pull it off).

  • Learning about a non-adversarial legal process and how to model everything in a person's life, from business ownership to transfers of property and propagating that data through multiple services.

  • Running an internal event tracking system that will handle a high volume of events for everything from court docket entries to the component impressions on upsolve.org (check out the network requests on our pages). From there, finding ways to give the team BI tooling so everyone can explore questions/data on their own, and see where we can take the UI/UX behavioral data. In the long run, finding a way to push page rank and other scoring data from Google into our data warehouse, merge that with the page viewing behavior data we currently have, and find ways to give the SEO/Content teams tooling to run experiments across the site and what affect it has on search. Lots of moving parts, but something the unicorn companies do.

  • An opportunity to use geo-json/geographic data/postgis and FIPS code system which drive our referral matching marketplace, determine bankruptcy statute/code decisions on cases, and in the future will be worked more into the user-interfaces when community is built and we want to create threads for regions/cities.

  • A structured data approach to content writing that allows for more complex reading/rendering experiences and search result advantages that $1+ billion companies competing with us on search aren’t doing. As well as a quadtree algorithm that lets all the pages on upsolve.org site link internally to one another in a balanced way, which Airbnb did and called their “Walk Across America” project.

  • Learn about the weird world of PDF filling and generation, and how to build a pixel diff’ing test suite to ensure they’re generating correctly.

  • All things security. A breach to user data put users at significant risk of identity theft and scams. Beyond simple things like implementing 2FA, we’ll need to think about incorporating bastion servers, virtual network security configs, and figure out other ways to protect users/data from malicious actors. Will have the chance to collaborate with penetration testers we’ll hire.

  • Learn and help us find a way to do more streamlined shared package development between all products and services. We have both a library for shared consts/helper functions and one for UI components. We’re thinking about incorporating Verdaccio into our local dev setup.

  • Learn about messaging sending reliability and some of the challenges are larger-scale SMS sending given heavy carrier filtering and new regulations. Need to find a way to do reliable outbound notifications to web-based users about critical updates.

  • Learn how to build and support an online community. We know it should exist, but how it works and what it looks like on our platform is a big open design question.

  • From scratch, build products to help our users navigate other areas of financial distress, helping them access legal rights and benefits available. We intend to pursue opportunities in student loans, debt collection and wage garnishment, fighting creditor harassment, accessing nonprofit credit counseling, etc. See our current list of 500+ content articles on our roadmap (will need to create Airtable account if you don't already have), which will give you a sense of the needs we'll need to address.

Past Technical Projects We've Written About

The Concrete Impact on the Lives of Real People

Other Important Things to Know

  • You will have the chance to ship something every week that gets into the hands of a lot of real live users with deep needs

  • Domain experts and engineers work hand-in-hand every week in an equitable, communicative, and collaborative environment

  • We have an earned revenue model that reduces our reliance on philanthropy

  • We have a minimal meeting culture to allow time to get deep into programming – learn more about our culture and product principles

  • You will have the opportunity to have a real impact on product direction at a pivotal moment in our journey as we grow into a larger brand of financial distress

  • We have a clear long-term vision for how our direct services can translate into permanent systemic change that creates a more just legal and financial system

  • Well-funded and a leader in the tech for social good space – our top tier donors include Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt, Vinod Khosla, Chris Sacca, Jim Breyer, and several others

  • You will only have engineering teammates with a deep track record of using tech for social good and strong engineering backgrounds. Harry worked at Red Cross, Facebook Social Good, and Airbnb Social Good teams; Mark started a civic tech startup before co-founding Upsolve and explicitly got into programming to use it as a tool for social change and impact.

  • You will have the opportunity for mentorship from our Advisor, Holly Allen, currently Director of Engineering at Slack and previously the Director of Engineering at 18F.

Interested or have any questions?

We’d love to talk to you. Send an email to rohan@upsolve.org.

Upsolve is an equal opportunity employer. We believe that everyone should receive equal consideration and treatment in all terms and conditions of employment regardless of sex, gender(including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, color, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, age(over40), physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, domestic partner status, military or veteran status, height, weight, AIDS/HIV status, and any other protected category under federal, state or local law. We will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.



Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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