Job Description: City Bureau Labs Developer

We are looking for a contract Developer to join City Bureau’s Labs team. The main responsibility of this position is to build a workflow application for use by City Bureau’s Documenters program. A qualified Developer will be able to work on a team with a designer and project manager to implement a web application within a timeframe set in conjunction with City Bureau staff.

The ideal candidate will have excellent knowledge of at least one programming language and be familiar with building database-backed web applications. Experience with a web framework such as Django or Rails is nice to have but not required. The ideal candidate will also have an analytical mindset, a keen eye for detail, solid time management, and great communication skills. Preference will be given to candidates based in Chicago but we will consider remote candidates who are a good fit. A regular meeting and check-in schedule will be determined based on availability and location.

Our selection process is designed to be fast and respectful of each candidate’s time. The first round is a simple 10-question webform about your professional experience. The second round is a thorough proposal and video interview. All second-round candidates will be paid for their proposals regardless of final selection. Candidates will be asked to include their hourly rate, estimated total project hours and 6-month availability (approximate available hours per week) in their second round proposal.


City Bureau is a Chicago-based civic journalism lab that brings journalists and community members together in a collaborative spirit to produce equitable media coverage and encourage civic participation.

Further reading:

Are you ready to apply? Please read on.



  • March: First-round application is open

  • April: second-round application is open to selected candidates. Selected candidates will be interviewed in-person or via video chat, then offered the opportunity to submit a full project proposal. Payment for requested proposals will be provided regardless of final selection.

  • May: Final developer selection

  • August: Tentative project completion (project may be completed earlier)




  • Understand client requirements and how they translate into code

  • Collaborate with a team of journalists and IT professionals to set priorities

  • Ability to respond to bugs/issues within 1-2 days

  • Write high-quality source code to program complete the application within deadlines

  • Write automated tests for the application

  • Troubleshoot and debug the application

  • Deploy the application and debug hosting issues

  • Document system design, implementation, and development setup


Do you fulfill at least ⅔ of these requirements? If so, please apply.


  • Proven experience as a solo developer on a project

  • Ability to program in at least one server-side programming language such as Python, Ruby, JavaScript, Java, etc.

  • Familiarity with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

  • Experience building web applications using a framework such as Django, Rails, etc.

  • Excellent understanding of software design and programming principles

  • Strong written communication skills and willingness to communicate with team members using a chat application

  • Ability to think analytically and creatively solve problems

  • Great attention to detail and time-management skills

  • Experience with integration and automated testing

  • Infrastructure maintenance and deployment

  • Experience building content management systems