Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2013/ Two Job Descriptions

Two Job Descriptions

What do I supposedly do for a living? Here are two descriptions of my job. The first is from the UpGoerFive meme, which challenged people to describe their jobs (or graduate work) using only the ten hundred most common words.

The second is from a job ad I was asked to write, but which I suspect will not be used. In writing this posting, I attempted to use as few technological buzzwords as possible. I have edited this description for clarity and to remove some incriminating details.

Please note that just because I believe these to be the responsibilities of this job does not mean I fulfill those responsibilities particularly well.

UpGoerFive Meme

When computers get sick I have to clean up. Sometimes the computers stop talking to each other. Sometimes the computers have broken parts. Sometimes people do not know how to use their computers. It is my job to clean up every single time.

Job Advertisement

As an IT Generalist at The Working Centre, you will be a problem solver. Technology is a powerful tool, but it is also problematic. Your job will be to deal with the problems of technology in ways that support its wise use: that facilitate access to technology while serving human needs and building human relationships.

We do not care that much about which specific technology buzzwords are on your resume, how many certifications you have, or whether you are an internet ninja rockstar genius. We care deeply about other skills and attributes:

You will use these skills in a wide variety of contexts, and with a wide diversity of technology. On any given day you might image a computer, configure extensions on our phone system, show somebody how to encrypt data, fix a keyboard tray, set up and monitor a backup job, repair a shoe, write a shell script, show somebody how to use email, troubleshoot a printing problem, research cellphone options, tweak firewall rules, develop a database, figure out why a software package keeps crashing, transfer a large file to India efficiently, or implement an autoinstaller. Probably you will do other things, depending on the demands of the day.

A staff position at The Working Centre is not just a job; it is a job with low pay. There is no question that we drastically underpay IT staff with respect to the market, while simultaneously making high demands of that staff. However, there are compensations. Many staff find that The Working Centre fills needs they have trouble fulfilling elsewhere. The Working Centre takes in people and things that broader society considers disposable or obsolete, and puts those people and things to good work. Through projects like Worth a Second Look, Recycle Cycles and Computer Recycling, we turn disposable things into useful items. Through employment counselling, volunteer participation, and a welcoming atmosphere we invite people to contribute meaningfully to the community -- whether through paid work or in other ways.

The Working Centre finds niches that are not well-served by market economics, and works to serve those needs. The organization has been around for 31 years, and it it continues to take on projects that the wider community finds useful. The IT department works behind the scenes to support these projects, and as a member of the IT department you will have opportunities to put your technological abilities towards social good in tangible ways.

Relationships are important at the Working Centre. Kindness and patience are the rule, not the exception. The organization tends to be non-hierarchical. Staff have a lot of autonomy and independence in their positions. The Working Centre is not afraid to talk openly of virtue. Although budgets and fundraising are factors in the work we do, we try not to obsess over them; our focus is on getting the work done, and of working with people regardless of whether they fall into well-defined funding categories. The Working Centre's approach is influenced by thinkers such as E.F. Schumacher, Jane Jacobs, Dorothy Day, and Ivan Illich. We treat each other as coworkers and participants and human beings, not as clients or customers or patrons. Although the work and this workplace can be difficult, many people also find the environment welcoming and rewarding.

If you are interested in applying for the IT Generalist position, send a cover letter and resume to REDACTED, addressed to REDACTED. The more your submission convinces us that you have both the skills we are looking for and a genuine interest in working here, the more likely it is that we will want to interview you.