We’re building a new kind of learning environment: One with immense collaboration but no coercion, and diverse participants but a common purpose of becoming better programmers. We’re building a place to realize the ideas of Holt, Illich, and Papert.
Want to help? If you’re new to RC, read on to learn about the role of facilitators and if this might be a good fit for you. If you’re a member of the RC community, read on because this job is probably not what you think it is.1
About the Recurse Center
RC is a radically self-directed educational retreat integrated with a recruiting agency. The primary educational value of RC comes from Recursers themselves: RC is peer-to-peer, which is why it gets better as the community becomes larger and more diverse. RC is self-directed because we believe that education is (to quote John Holt) “the product of the activity of the learner,” and that people learn most effectively when they are in control of and have responsibility for their own education.
Experienced and new programmers come to RC from around the world to spend six or twelve weeks in New York focused on getting better at programming. Afterwards, alumni remain highly involved in the community, both offline and online.
RC is funded through recruiting fees paid by partner companies when they hire alumni we refer to them. This allows us to keep RC free for everyone, and to fund need-based living expense grants for people from groups traditionally underrepresented in technology. There is no expectation or requirement that people who attend the retreat want or take a new job.
About this role
The job of facilitators is to improve the environment, structure, and operations of RC. This includes both the experience of participating in our retreat and of being an alum, and both the educational and career services aspects of our business.
Much of this work can be thought of it in terms of questions we try to answer: How can we establish a stronger culture of peer code review and feedback? How can we make it easier for people to find good pairing partners and collaborators in the RC community? How can we help Recursers tackle more challenging and ambitious projects? How can we better support people in learning how to navigate a self-directed environment? How can we maintain and improve the cohesion and trust in our community as it continues to grow? How can we more effectively support people in finding jobs they like? How can we change our physical and social environment to better support both collaboration and quiet, individual work?
Answering these questions and changing RC in response to them requires wearing many hats, from writing to programming to building furniture to project management. It also involves both working independently and collaborating closely with other RC employees and members of our community.
Pros and cons
Every job has downsides, and this one is no exception. People usually learn about these things after they join a company, but we think it’s important to highlight them in advance:
- You will sometimes have to deal with hard situations, most commonly tricky people problems. When something goes awry or there’s conflict in our community, it’s our job to help resolve it. This can be frustrating and emotionally draining.
- Some of the work is unglamorous (we’re an eight-person company, so we all have to do some amount of mopping up, figuratively and occasionally literally).
- We regularly host events for our community after normal work hours, and this role requires attending many of them.
- The pay is probably less than you could get as a programmer at many tech companies.
Thankfully, we think this job has many more good things going for it:
- Meaningful work, with a huge effect on people’s lives. To brag briefly: We’ve lost track of the number of alumni who have told us we changed their lives, or that RC was one of the best things they’ve ever done.
- A friendly and intellectual atmosphere, and a tight-knit and supportive team of coworkers.
- A warm and welcoming office (we’re currently in SoHo near Broadway and Grand).
- A great health insurance plan, plus dental and vision insurance.
- 15 days of vacation (we effectively have unlimited vacation, but we have a number to make sure people actually take it), a 10-day winter holiday (Dec 23 to Jan 1), and seven additional holidays.
- Complete organizational transparency: If we give you an offer, we will share all employee and founder salaries, how much cash we have, projected revenue, and the many risks we face. We will answer any questions you have about our company and prospects honestly and directly.
- Speaking of transparency, the salary for this role is $100,000. We will also give you stock options, with the caveat that you should treat them as a particularly unlikely lottery ticket. We will share the percent of the company the options currently represent, their strike price, our current valuation and cap table, and any other relevant information you’d like.
- You have high “EQ” (emotional intelligence).
- You have excellent communication skills both online and in person.
- You are good at project and people management (you won’t have direct reports but you will need to be able to coordinate the effort of many people).
- You are secure with your self, and are comfortable giving and receiving candid feedback.
- You are excited about programming, and ideally have some background in it.
- You do what you say you’re going to do, and you do it well.
Lastly, it’s important that you share our core beliefs about education. Dissent and skepticism are great, but if we don’t all agree on enough of the big things we’ll never get anything done.
What to expect from our interview process
- The first step is to email us with one or two short paragraphs about why you’re interested in this job, along with your resume or your publicly accessible LinkedIn profile. Please use thoughtful, conversational English and proof-read what you write.
- We’ll respond with a quick acknowledgement that we got your email.
- If we decide to move forward, we’ll follow up to schedule a 30-45 minute call. This call has two purposes: We’d like to learn a bit more about you and what you’ve done, and we also want to answer whatever questions you have about RC and the role.
- The next round is a short writing task. We’ll pose a problem or situation like one we’ve actually faced, and ask you to write something in response, like an email or plan to handle it.
- If that goes well we’ll invite you to a day of on-site interviews, which will be a series of interviews with RC faculty and community members. We will try to make these interviews as much like the actual work of this job as possible.
After each stage we’ll let you know whether or not we’d like to continue as quickly as possible (our goal is within two business days). If you’re advancing to the next stage, we may also give you feedback about what we thought you did well and what you could improve on for the next round.
A few extra things to know
- Most of the company gets in around 10am and leaves around 6:30pm, but some of us come in early and/or stay later.
- We’re personally and institutionally committed to combating sexism and racism.
- If you’re considering applying, you should spend a few minutes reading our blog, about page, and User’s Manual to get a sense of our company and your potential coworkers.
- We are happy to sponsor visas when possible. We cannot sponsor H-1Bs, since the soonest someone could start work on a new H-1B is October 2018, which is unfeasible for us (we can probably transfer existing H-1Bs).
- This is a full-time role, and you need to be able to work on-site at our office in NYC.
Some historical context for the curious: RC previously had a role called “facilitator” that was very different from the job we now call “facilitator.” The old role was primarily about giving individual advice, pair programming, and doing code reviews for people.↩