18F

A bot named for a 'West Wing' character helps onboard 18F's new hires

cyber education

A bot is easing the transition for new hires at 18F. Dolores Landingham sends friendly messages to new 18F employees so they don't face a giant information dump their first week on the job.

Mrs. Landingham, as the bot is affectionately known, provides all sorts of helpful tips for new hires from filling out forms and understanding what certain terms mean to knowing how to participate in work discussions, according to a recent 18F blog post. The bot is part of an orientation effort that also includes checklists and classes.

Mrs. Landingham is on Slack, the communications tool 18F and many other workplaces use for collaboration. In the blog post, developer Jessie Young wrote that receiving a Slack message "feels more fun and immediate than other mediums, such as email, which would help with our goal of 'not stressing out new employees.'"

Once per day, Mrs. Landingham sends a new message. The technology behind the bot is a Rails app with a database of new 18F employees' Slack names, start dates and scheduled messages.

Fans of the TV drama "The West Wing" will recognize the bot's name. Dolores Landingham was the president's executive secretary on the show.

About the Author

Bianca Spinosa is an Editorial Fellow at FCW.

Spinosa covers a variety of federal technology news for FCW including workforce development, women in tech, and the intersection of start-ups and agencies. Prior to joining FCW, she was a TV journalist for more than six years, reporting local news in Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Spinosa is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Writing at George Mason University, where she also teaches composition. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia.

Click here for previous articles by Spinosa, or connect with her on Twitter: @BSpinosa.


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