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!