Looking for a job

My time as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Victoria will run out fairly soon: until the end of August at the latest, four months from now. It’s time, then, to look for another job, and to make some important decisions about who and where do I want to be. For reasons that deserve a blog post of its own, I decided not to look for professor positions, and to broaden my scope instead.

Ideally, I want to find a job that fulfills as many of these needs as possible:

  • First, do no harm. I won’t work for an organization that deals in violence to others, to the environment, or to fairness.
  • Second, do as much good as possible and still get paid. I would love to work for an organization that’s trying to make the world better, especially with respect to social justice or environmental issues. I would work hardest, and for lower pay, if this was the case. Alternatively, I would like to work for an organization that has enough freedom built in so that its members can pursue these goals in their available time.
  • Geography. Val and I like Victoria and Toronto, we’ve built networks in both cities, and they’re currently our two top choices.
  • Stability. I want a permanent position with a sustainable salary, because I don’t want to be looking for another job again a year from now.
  • Work-life balance. Reasonably low overtime and travel requirements, and flexibility in work hours to be there for my daughter when she needs me.
  • Good teamwork and work environment. This is harder to assess than the others, but I think a commitment to team self-organization, autonomy, and co-location are good indicators.
  • Technically hard problems, because I want to feel challenged and engaged at work.

And here’s what I think I can offer in return:

  • An unusual perspective: I’ve studied dozens of software organizations and interviewed hundreds of professionals, who have shared with me their ideas of how their teams work and how they could work better, especially with respect to coordination and communication.
  • Pragmatic knowledge of useful and state-of-the-art empirical research in software development, which I regularly blog and write about.
  • Skills that I learned while getting my PhD and that are transferable to (and, I think, welcome in) the software industry and elsewhere: observation, active listening, data analysis, communication, estimation, and self-management.
  • More conventionally, experience developing software and managing projects.
  • The assurance that, as long as my employer fulfills the needs I listed above, I’m in it for the long haul.

There’s nothing in my wishlist about specific positions or job titles—the ideal position for me might be hard to pin down with a label. I expect that for most organizations my best current fit would be around project management, although I would also love to develop software again, and to work in the intersection of research and practice. If you know of a place where I could be of help, or if you’d like to discuss possible collaborations, please let me know!

23 thoughts on “Looking for a job

  1. Pingback: Looking for a job | Catenary

  2. You and I should chat/skype some time. I’m looking for the same thing, although my current funding runs longer than yours. I have an idea for a small business/non-profit.

  3. My dear Jorge,

    I was thinking to describe you the work i used to have. I think it covers 2, 5, 6 and 7. but the lack of the other needs were the reason why i left. I cannot say that where i’m covers all the needs that you listed, but i think it’s a step closer that i used to have, unfortunatly i’d to give up some ‘needs’ in exchange of.

    bottom line, most of the people will say that they whish you good look, or maybe that there isn’t such a place like the one you described. Don’t give up and don’t accpet places that ‘almost’ cover what you need. They just lead you to away from your goal, it can become an endless loop, changing some needs to cover something else you don’t have…

    let me know if you find it, i really want to find a place like that. i think i can also give in return: i’ve an unusual perspective, Pragmatic knowledge of useful empirical/theorical methodologies in software analisys, observation, active listening, data analysis, communication, estimation. And finally, the assurance that, as long as my employer fulfills the needs I listed above, I’m in it for the long haul


  4. Mijo!!!!

    Así que ahora regresas al mundo terrenal donde los pobres genios malbaratan sus ideales por un sueldo que cubra las necesidades básicas y alguno que otro ¨lujito¨…

    Por el trabajo que describes, ¿cómo ves algo en la ONU o el Banco Mundial? (no es broma, vi hace unos meses que tenían unas vacantes muy interesantes y con tu experiencia podría ser una oportunidad).

    Igual en Seattle está Microsoft ¿no? (por aquello del desarrollo de Software), ahora que … ¿por que no aplicar a Apple o Google?

    Lamentablemente, y con pena te digo que en el rubro que buscas no tengo muchos conocidos… esto de trabajar para un banco (que por lo general violenta la economía y persigue al empresario) no crep que sea algo de lo que buscas, pero si te intersa, con gusto pregunto (auqnue eso sí… son de muuuucho overtime, sobre todo en sistemas).

    Bueno mi estimado, te mando un fuerte abrazo y si te puedo ayudar, no dudes en gritar ¡Rana! que yo salto.

    Saludos a tus retoños.


  5. Great post. Check out Center for Global eHealth Innovation. You might be a good fit for the medical devices group 🙂

  6. All the best in your hunt, but I have to say that a hiring manager faced with a CV from a PhD grad who claimed to have good communication skills on account of their program would probably laugh themselves to death. One does not learn communication skills in a computer science program, unless one is severely deficient in them to begin with. Computer scientists tend to have poor communication abilities, whether one focuses on writing, oral presentation, graphic design or negotiation. Graduate schools in the sciences are largely inhabited by introverts who enjoy focusing on problems, rather than extroverts who are good at dealing with people. I see this all the time at technical conferences as well.

    If you picked up communications skills in your practical (non-academic) endevours, you should probably hilight those. A year as a business analyst or project manager will teach you far more about communication than 20 years as an engineer or computer scientist. A year in a human resources role will teach you far more about observation and human behaviour than any goofy graduate program.

    Your desire to find a job that involves hard problems is commendable, but will make the search a lot more difficult. Particularly in Victoria, which is pretty much a government/tourism town without a lot of interesting engineering or development.

    The danger of a PhD is that it is a specialist degree. If you find opportunities that require your speciality, you may have a lock on them. If not, you will be viewed as more expensive and perhaps less adaptable than someone with a MSc. If I were running a business, I would prefer someone with a BSc and 7 years of work experience, to be honest. There are some monster programmers and developers out there who are no less perceptive and capable of reading the research literature than PhD grads. I know, because I have worked with some.

    Anyhow, best of luck. I admire your resolution not to continue in academia.

  7. Pingback: I’m a software developer again « Jorge Aranda's website

  8. Jorge Aranda;
    I found your posting of the old Toronto area map recently and was wondering if you could assist me in locating an address from 1867.
    Dr. Emily Stowe’s practise in 1867 was located at #39 Alma Terrace, Richmond St. Toronto. Do you know where this address would be located in modern Toronto?

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