Senior Full-stack Engineer, Backend Lead

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Emergent Works · Remote (USA)

Posted 3 days ago


Emergent Works is seeking a senior, full-stack software engineer and backend lead to join our team working on the development of a multi-year grant funded project that provides efficient and equitable access to bail funds for individuals incarcerated during pretrial detention. The primary goals of this project are to improve the operational capacity of bail funds and unlock new tools to advocate for a more just and equitable criminal legal system. As a part of this project, the backend lead will work as the primary backend systems contributor, focusing on software design, development, testing, documentation, and debugging as it pertains to server-side code and supporting databases.  


EW Mission:

Emergent Works (EW)—an organization led by individuals impacted by incarceration—aims to interrupt the poverty to prison pipeline by providing the formerly incarcerated with the training and support necessary to enter careers as software engineers. Such opportunities have the potential to lead to the creation of generational wealth for individuals and communities, disproportionately made up of people of color, impacted by mass incarceration.


We partner with bootcamps like Columbia’s Justice Through Code Program to find talented apprentices who then participate in weekly 1:1 mentorship with professional software engineers.


Once they graduate from the mentorship program, we place them on client projects alongside senior engineers. As a part of the continued development of this model that the engineering director will support, EW will launch a 9-month apprenticeship that provides formerly incarcerated and/or criminal legal system impacted individuals with the training, support, and access to resources necessary to enter into careers as junior software engineers upon completion of the apprenticeship.   


Our model helps our apprentices gain the income, real-world experience, and portfolio necessary to find employment in the tech industry.


Job Description:

As backend lead (BL), your job will be to lead backend development on agency projects. During the first 3 months of work, the BL’s primary focus will be on assisting the engineering director and other senior team members in transitioning EW to full ownership of the bail fund project. This transition involves light infrastructure work including database and backend server migrations.


As a part of this responsibility, the BL will work in collaboration with the ED and Frontend Lead (FL) to develop software, tooling, workflows, and documentation to facilitate the onboarding and training of junior developer apprentices. The goal of these workflows and tools is to enable apprentices to contribute code to production projects as quickly as possible. This role requires a level of technical expertise that will allow you to see a holistic picture of our individual and overall projects as support the ED in developing architectural approaches for software design and implementation. Working from a high level overview of the software architecture outlined by the ED, the BL will be required to segment complex technical concepts into manageable, sequential stages so apprentices can effectively support the senior development team through work-based learning exercises. 


The success of the bail fund and all agency projects depend just as much on the quality of mentorship to apprentices as on the quality of the code. As such, an integral part of the BL responsibility will entail working closely in collaboration with the engineering and agency director to provide apprentices with the requisite support to complete the apprenticeship ready to apply and enter into careers as junior software engineers. 


From 3 months onwards, the backend lead will continue to work as a contributing member of the senior software development team while iterating on the EW apprenticeship model. During this time, the BL will work in collaboration with the engineering director and senior team members to develop and launch new product features for the app. 



  • Collaborate with engineering director to build and maintain backend systems
  • Take primary ownership over backend systems and databases including development, documentation, testing, bug tracking, etc.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to determine and take guidance from the engineering director on functional and non-functional requirements for new software or applications
  • Use tools and methodologies to create representations for functions and user interface of desired product
  • Implement high-level product specifications with attention to system integration and feasibility
  • Communicate successfully with engineering director and the larger development team throughout the software development process
  • Ensure software development consistency with initial design
  • Provide technical guidance and coaching to apprenticeship team members
  • Ensure individual and apprentice software development work meets all requirements of quality, security, modifiability, extensibility etc.



We’re looking for someone with 5-7 years of experience as a software engineer and direct experience managing apprentices or junior technical talent on software development projects. With that being said, if you think you’re uniquely qualified for this role and don’t yet have that level of experience, we encourage you to include a written explanation of why you think you would be a great candidate for this position with your application materials.


Sr. Software Engineer Qualifications and Skills:

  • Expertise in software design, debugging, documentation, and testing
  • Experience with relational databases, schema design, and scalability principles
  • Experience with python, django, API design and scaling
  • Excellent problem solver with a keen ability to break complex problems down into simple ones
  • Excellent communication skills for collaborating with your team and outside organizations
  • Advanced experience with at least one frontend and backend framework (have some familiarity with other frameworks)
  • You have enough experience building web products that you’re comfortable decomposing and building new ones with no supervision.
  • Sound judgment when balancing moving quickly with producing quality code and long-term code maintainability
  • Passionate about creating a superlative user experience and attentive to details
  • While you might have a preferred stack, you’re used to taking the time to get up to speed on new ones.
  • You are comfortable creating products at different levels of fidelity, from quick squarespace customizations to months-long greenfield websites.
  • Appreciate productivity and care deeply about helping teams collaborate more effectively and efficiently, including your own
  • Excited to be a part of an inclusive culture where everyone brings their whole selves to work


Mentorship Expertise:

  • You have a demonstrated interest in mentorship and coaching.
  • You often take time out of your day to better understand and explain technical topics to your teammates.
  • You feel your job isn’t complete until more junior members of your team are thriving.


About you:

  • You deeply believe in the mission of Emergent Works and are passionate about carrying it out
  • You have lots of ideas for how to support and expand the mission of Emergent Works 
  • You value learning and adapting over maintaining a pre-designed plan.
  • You care about investing in your relationships with and the growth of others on the team through feedback and frequent check-ins.
  • You are kind.
  • You want to have a leadership role in the organization and help create what we become.
  • You are deeply passionate about racial justice and equity.
  • Comfortable meeting in person (within social distance guidelines)

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