Explainer: What is Public Interest Technology?

Public Interest Technology (PIT)is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of technology, social impact, and public service. If you’re passionate about using your skills to make a positive difference in the world, then PIT offers an exciting and fulfilling career path.

What is PIT?

Public Interest Technology focuses on leveraging technology to address societal challenges, promote equity, and advance the common good. It involves using technology as a powerful tool for social impact, ensuring it benefits all individuals and communities, especially those who are marginalized or underserved. In PIT, you’ll have the opportunity to create innovative solutions, champion ethical practices, and contribute to building a more inclusive and equitable society.

Why Choose a Career in PIT?

The list below presents some of the many reasons to pursue a career in this sector:

  1. Meaningful Impact: PIT allows you to use your technical skills and expertise to tackle pressing social issues and create real-world change. Whether it’s developing accessible technologies, safeguarding data privacy, or enhancing civic engagement, you’ll have a direct impact on people’s lives in unique ways.
  2. Collaborative Environment: PIT thrives on collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches. You’ll work alongside experts from various fields, including technology, policy, and the social sciences. This collaborative environment encourages innovative thinking, fosters diverse perspectives, and amplifies the collective impact of your work.
  3. Ethics and Responsibility: PIT places a strong emphasis on ethical considerations and responsible technology practices. You’ll be at the forefront of shaping policies, guidelines, and frameworks that govern technology’s ethical use to promote the overall well-being of society.
  4. Career Growth and Demand: With the increasing integration of technology into every aspect of society, the demand for skilled professionals in PIT continues to grow. This field offers exciting opportunities for career advancement, professional development, and the chance to be at the forefront of emerging trends and challenges. Moreover, with PIT encompassing a wide range of industries, you can find a niche that aligns with your interests and expertise working in government, non-profits, academia, and beyond.

For more information on PIT careers, head to the following post: “Navigating the PIT Landscape: A Guide to PIT Career Paths.”

How to Get Started in PIT

  1. Education and Skills Building: Consider your current skillset, including any transferrable skills or knowledge you may already possess. Develop these further while gaining a deep understanding of social issues and policy frameworks.
  2. Engage in Real-World Projects: Seek internships, fellowships, and project-based opportunities in organizations that focus on PIT. Engaging in hands-on projects will allow you to apply your skills and gain practical experience.
  3. Network and Connect: Attend PIT-focused events as well as conferences to connect with professionals in the field. Engage with student organizations and online communities that are passionate about PIT. For more information, see the blog post: “Making the Most of Networking Opportunities: Lessons from the PIT Career Fair.” And, as a follow-up to our most recent event with Rebekah Tweed of All Tech is Human, check out the following PIT-focused events and resources.