On the Digital Design & Development team within the Growth Lab, we build open-access tools used to disseminate cutting-edge economic research to improve the livelihoods of people on a global scale. We do this with a modern technical stack including React, Python (Pandas, Flask), and PostgreSQL hosted on AWS. We are a small, agile team and you will collaborate with each member across the entire development cycle from prototyping to deployment. You will have the ability to take ownership of features and make important contributions to the work done at the Growth Lab.
Our Back-End Developers are tasked with building, enhancing, and maintaining our API, database, and cloud-based server infrastructure. You will work with academic and policy researchers to obtain and clean data, manipulate and process the data into databases in a reliable way, and build modern GraphQL and REST APIs for the front end to efficiently query the data.
In addition to technical responsibilities, our team values innate curiosity and a desire to explore and understand the world through data. We work with a wide assortment of interesting data sets including country trade data, urban employment data, historical patent records, and many more. We draw from sources including the United Nations, Dun & Bradstreet, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and various other international government sources.
Our team has adopted a flexible, hybrid approach, working both remotely and from the Growth Lab space within the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The LEED-certified HKS campus offers shared working spaces, lounge areas, a glass-enclosed garden and a new cafeteria and dining space. By joining the Harvard community, you'll have access to Harvard's generous benefits package, libraries, classes, events, professional development opportunities, and an extensive network of scholars and mentors to support your own academic interests.
In this role, you'll have the best of both worlds: all the benefits of being part of a world-class research institution combined with the autonomy and agility of a growing software team.
As a back-end developer, you will:
Contribute to the setting of high performance, back-end frameworks and standards across all Growth Lab software applications
Contribute to the building of custom ETL data pipelines to clean, process, and analyze large and varied datasets
Collaborate with both back- and front-end developers to build and improve GraphQL and REST APIs built upon a Flask framework that query and deliver data quickly and
efficiently for our data visualization platforms
Validate newly-incoming data as acquired and regularly update and optimize existing platforms
Collaborate with researchers on an ad hoc basis to analyze data and build prototype tools to support the Lab's research agenda
Help deploy and manage server systems that host our data visualization platforms
Solve a variety of back-end related bugs, maintenance issues, and researcher technology issues
Maintain up-to-date documentation
Occasionally present aspects of your work at staff meetings and Harvard events
Work with our product manager, developers, designer and users across the full software lifecycle: planning, prototyping, requirement setting, designing, developing, testing, releasing, and maintaining
Minimum of two years' post-secondary education or relevant work experience
Additional Qualifications and Skills
Knowledge of information technology applications, processes, software and equipment
Demonstrated team performance skills, service mindset approach, and the ability to act as a trusted advisor
Strong knowledge of Python web development frameworks (Flask, Django, or similar) as well as data analysis tools and methods (such as Pandas, Jupyter, Scikit-Learn, etc.)
Experience developing data cleaning and ETL (extract, transform, load) processes
Experience building REST and GraphQL APIs
Experience managing cloud-based server infrastructure through AWS or a similar platform (Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, etc.)
Experience configuring Linux-based web servers using tools such as Ansible, Nginx, Gunicorn, etc.
Familiarity using Git and GitHub or a similar tool for collaborative source control
Strong demonstration of engineering maturity, including a commitment to writing readable, maintainable, testable, and documented code and following other best practices
Ability to survey the back-end technology landscape to identify solutions to problems and articulate their trade-offs
Comfortable and willing to communicate technical concepts to non-technical audiences
Experience working within an agile software development cycle
Appreciation and enthusiasm for open-source software and its best practices.
Interest in modern, interactive data visualization
Able to adapt in an ever-changing role that's oriented towards solving current challenges the team is facing rather than staying within a single purview
Willingness to independently and efficiently explore and learn new technologies
Interested in economic and social development issues
A proactive, self-starting, and collaborative approach to your work
About the Growth Lab The Growth Lab program, at Harvard's Center for International Development, works to understand the dynamics of economic growth and to translate those insights into more effective policy making in developing countries. The Growth Lab disrupts the conventional research setup by embedding a diverse technology team alongside faculty and fellows, to innovate and solve real-world problems together. Our technology team is an agile group of engineers, developers, designers and data experts tasked with translating a complex research agenda into accessible and impactful digital, data visualization tools using high-performance front and back-end components.
The Growth Lab's award-winning, flagship platform, The Atlas of Economic Complexity, delivers the ability to discover new growth opportunities for every country. Our newest platform, Metroverse, allows users to explore growth opportunities within their cities and draw comparisons with cities around the world. Both tools are relied upon across the Harvard community and by policymakers, journalists, entrepreneurs and leaders in international development. The Atlas and Metroverse are part of the Growth Lab's Viz Hub, an online portfolio of data visualization platforms and interactive storytelling, powered by Growth Lab research.
Certificates and Licenses
Completion of Harvard IT Academy specified foundational courses (or external equivalent) preferred
Work is performed in an office setting
As part of the interview process, applicants should be prepared to undertake a short coding exercise using Python and demo samples of personal or professional work that best demonstrates relevant capabilities.
This position is a fully benefits-eligible term appointment ending one year from date of hire with strong possibility of renewal.
We regret that the Harvard Kennedy School does not provide Visa Sponsorship. Harvard University requires pre-employment references and background checks. Harvard University is committed to supporting a healthy, sustainable learning and working environment.
This is a hybrid position based on our campus in Cambridge, MA. As a campus-based institution, we place a high value on the in-person experience, cross-team collaboration, and strong community building in order to create a vibrant campus for our students, faculty, staff, and research fellows. The position is required to work in-person on campus a minimum of three days per week during the academic year. Specific days and schedule will be determined between you and your manager.
Harvard University continues to place the highest priority on the health, safety and wellbeing of its faculty, staff, and students, as well as the wider community. Please note that all new employees will be required toprovide confirmation of primary series COVID-19 vaccination upon hire, as detailed on ourCOVID-19 Vaccine Requirement Webpage.Harvard University Health Services employees and other health care individuals are also required to be up to date on vaccination as described by the CDC. Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. Additional information regarding this requirement, exemptions, verification of vaccination status, and other related policies and resources may be found on the University'sCOVID-19 Information Website.
Salary Range: $64,300 - $105,000 Note: Starting salaries typically fall in the lower half of the salary range; however, they are ultimately determined by the scope of the position, the candidate's relevant experience, and internal equity.
Harvard offers a generous benefits package including:
Time Off: 3- 4 weeks paid vacation, paid holiday break, 12 paid sick days, 11.5 paid holidays, and 3 paid personal days per year.
Medical/Dental/Vision: We offer a variety of excellent medical plans, dental & vision plans, all coverage begins as of your start date.
Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with full vesting after 3 years of service.
Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive tuition assistance program, $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and discounted options through participating Harvard grad schools.
Transportation: Harvard offers a 50% discounted MBTA pass as well as additional options to assist employees in their daily commute.
Wellness Options: Harvard offers programs and classes at little or no cost, including stress management, massages, nutrition, meditation and complimentary health services. Harvard access to athletic facilities, libraries, campus events and many discounts throughout metro Boston.
Salary Grade: 056
Union: 00 - Non Union, Exempt or Temporary
Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Harvard University views equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive. We strive to create a community that draws upon the widest possible pool of talent to unify excellence and diversity while fully embracing individuals from varied backgrounds, cultures, races, identities, life experiences, perspectives, beliefs, and values.
EEO Statement We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.
Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. The University, which is based in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, has an enrollment of over 20,000 degree candidates, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Harvard has more than 360,000 alumni around the world. The University has twelve degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, offering a truly global education. Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.