USDS Alumni Network: Hana Schank

When you join USDS, you become part of a community that extends to life after your tour of duty. In this blog series, we share the stories of USDS Alumni. Find out what they worked on, where they are now, and why you should join us!

Hana Schank (she/her), New America. Previously Travel Team Director, USDS @ Deptartment of Homeland Security. From New York, NY.

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Hana Schank, Director of Strategy — Public Interest Technology, New America. USDS alum, 2016–2017.
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Hana with USDS in “Marine for a Day” at USMC Base Quantico.

I wouldn’t trade my USDS experience for the world, because it completely changed my career path and my life.

It was definitely hard and to this day my kids, who are now a teen and a tween, get nervous when I say I’m going to DC.

I think it takes a while to realize procurement and hiring are not just boring admin tasks, but central to how everything happens.

USDS needed to go through that process to get to where they are today in those areas. You don’t just show up one day and say, hey you should have some metrics in place, or hey you should talk to some users, and expect agencies that have had a SOP in place for 100 years to go, “oh gee that’s a great idea, we’ll get on that.”

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A design session Hana ran with CBP and TSA.

When my six months were up there was no way I could turn my back on the most interesting, challenging job I’d ever had.

It took me a while just to be able to decipher all the acronyms and get a handle on what I could accomplish. I think if there is a specific program that needs targeted help short tours might be feasible, but there is nothing like going deep into government world.

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Hana’s family visits The White House 💪🏽🖥🇺🇸

USDS changed my life.

I had been working as a UX designer for a long time, since before it was called being a UX designer, and honestly was not finding it to be all that compelling any more in the private sector. I felt like I could do that work with my eyes closed. I’d also had a side career as a writer and journalist, but I never saw how those two careers could be combined into one. So one day I’d be reporting on the growth of board game cafes and the next day I’d be overseeing a portion of the redesign of the New York Stock Exchange website. I also felt like if I had to have one more conversation with a client about not hiding the “unsubscribe” button or why we shouldn’t put 37 things in the navigation I might disintegrate. USDS gave me great stories to tell, a whole new perspective on why those stories were important, and also relit a fire under me when it came to UX. When I started out in the private sector every meeting began with me explaining what UX was, why I was there and why people should care about users. Being in government is a little like going back to that time, but with so very much more at stake. Some days I feel like I have the best job in the world. I get to write, I get to think about design, and I get to work with really sharp, dedicated people on stuff that matters.

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The United States Digital Service is a tech startup working across the Federal government to deliver better services to the American people. www.usds.gov

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