Join the Recurse Center as an Operations Assistant (we’re hiring)!

Update: As of January 25th, 2022 we’re pausing inviting additional candidates to interview. We’ve already heard from and scheduled interviews with a great number of strong applicants, and we’re likely to make an offer soon.

We’re hiring an Operations Assistant. This is a full-time role that can be done remotely from anywhere in the US. It could be a great fit for you if you want an administrative job (with good benefits and supportive colleagues!) that has a positive impact, while leaving you enough creative and intellectual energy to pursue your interests outside of work.

Read on to learn more about the Recurse Center and what we think is good (and bad) about this job.

If this role isn’t for you, please consider sharing it with others. If we hire someone who found this job because of you, we’ll donate $250 to the non-profit of your choice.

A unique business and community

RC is a unique institution. We run a free and self-directed programming retreat, a community of over 2,000 alums, and a recruiting agency, all of which are integrated and support each other. Our revenue comes from recruiting fees paid by our partner companies when they hire alums we refer to them.

Until 2020, we ran our retreats in our space in New York City. We’ve been operating online since the pandemic struck (we plan to operate both online and in-person once it’s safe to do so, but we have no idea when that will be).

Our views on education are unorthodox. We reject the overt and subtle coercion of school and believe people should get to decide what they learn and why and how they learn it. We don’t have grades, teachers, or any kind of curriculum. Instead, we provide time, space, resources, and a supportive community in which to grow.

Our approach to recruiting is similarly unconventional. While many recruiting agencies operate on a “quantity over quality” basis by referring any candidate they can find to as many jobs as possible, RC is different. We work hard to understand what Recursers and our partner companies are looking for, and only make introductions where we think it genuinely makes sense for both parties, after confirming mutual interest. We also stick with companies and Recursers throughout the interview process, checking in and offering support.

People genuinely love RC. Alums routinely tell us RC was one of or even the most impactful, meaningful, productive, or transformative period of their lives. We’ve helped people find their first programming jobs, meet lifelong friends and colleagues, and discover what they really want out of their lives and careers. Alums have told us RC changed their approach to programming, their beliefs about education, and even how they think about themselves and relate to other people.

Our community loves RC so much that they collectively donated over $350,000 to help us make it through the pandemic. When our business did better than expected and it turned out we didn’t need the money for operational expenses, we used it to restart our grants program. Since launching the program in 2012, we’ve given over $1.7 million directly to Recursers who are women, trans, non-binary, Black, Latina/o, and/or Native American to pay for living expenses during their time at RC.

About this role

By helping to operate and improve RC, you can have a huge impact on our small but steadily growing community. Your work at RC may not change the world, but it will change individual people’s lives.

Your daily responsibilities will be a collection of important operational work. Concretely, this includes:

  • Data entry to keep our internal database of job posts updated. The core of our business is matching our alums with compelling jobs. We can’t suggest roles we don’t know about, nor do we want to suggest roles that are no longer open.
  • Answering emails from people applying or recently admitted to RC.
  • Classifying transactions (in QuickBooks) and managing invoices (in FreshBooks) to make sure we get paid and have an accurate view of our company finances.
  • Coordinating with colleagues, partner companies, and our accountants to handle administrative work.

While varied, all this work has some important things in common: its value is clear; it’s well-defined so you can easily see when you’re finished; and it stays at work, so you can shift your focus to the rest of your life when you sign off for the day or weekend.

A collaborative environment with supportive colleagues

We work hard to foster a culture that’s collaborative, trusting, and thoughtful. Here are some things you’ll find working at RC:

  • Clear company-wide goals and the reasoning behind them. You’ll have an understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish together and why.
  • Our belief in self-direction isn’t only for Recursers, it also influences how we approach our own work. At RC, you’ll have the freedom and the responsibility to decide how to structure your time and work.
  • Weekly one-on-ones to give and receive regular feedback and help you work through frustrations or challenges with your work.
  • Organizational transparency. You will have access to whatever information about RC you want, from how much money we made last month to our bank balance.
  • A culture of direct, but kind and constructive feedback. This helps us quickly resolve disagreements and work together more effectively.
  • A writing review stream in our private chat and an accompanying culture of review. We copyedit and review all our writing, from blog posts to tweets.

Good work-life balance and benefits

All of us at RC work hard and care deeply about what we do. At the same time, all of us have lives and loved ones outside of work, and we know you do, too.

We strive to have a culture that supports our employees to do their best work in a sustainable way, so that all of us can contribute effectively over the long run. Here are some of the things you’ll find here to help with this:

  • Full health, vision, and dental insurance. RC covers 100% of the premium for the standard plans for all employees, as well as their partners and families. RC also pays the full premium for basic life insurance.
  • A 401k. RC contributes 3% on top of your salary to a 401k for you regardless of how much or even if you choose to contribute yourself.
  • Three months of paid parental leave, which you can take within a year of having or adopting a child.
  • 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 nine additional holidays. We also have five days for personal development, which you can use for anything that supports your personal and professional goals and growth.
  • Flexible hours. You can choose any eight consecutive hours with five or more hours of overlap with 9am-5pm ET (most of the team works 9am-5pm or 10am-6pm ET).

Many companies have stated policies that aren’t followed in practice, but that’s not the case at RC. For example, I took two months of parental leave when my son was born in 2019. Even though I’m CEO, I was able to fully unplug from work during that time (I intended to take my third month of leave in 2020 but the pandemic disrupted my plans).

Downsides and other things to know

No job is perfect, and this one is no exception. Here’s what we think the biggest downsides are:

  • Much of the work is unglamorous, and some of it can be rote and repetitive. While our community and team culture are highly intellectually engaging, the daily work for this role is not.
  • This role occasionally requires checking and responding to emails while on vacation. We generally avoid this by having colleagues take over when we’re out, but sometimes we can’t (e.g., during our winter break when the entire company is off).

A few other things to know, which might be upsides or downsides depending on your perspective:

  • RC is a dynamic place — some might say chaotic. You need to be comfortable with some amount of uncertainty to be happy working here.
  • The salary for this role is $50,000. It is also eligible for de facto profit-sharing through optional annual bonuses (these tend to be small and are in no way guaranteed, since they depend on our overall company performance).
  • We are a profitable, privately held business. We do not plan to ever sell or go public, and so there is no equity or chance of a big financial windfall.

What we’re looking for in candidates

These are the criteria we think are essential for success in this role and which we’ll be evaluating during interviews:

  • You understand what this job is (and isn’t) and want to do it. We want to hire someone who’s happy doing this and who won’t want to leave in six or 12 months.
  • You’re detail-oriented. You’re careful, learn from your mistakes, and care about doing a good job.
  • You’re trustworthy. You’re honest, ethical, and able to deal with sensitive data responsibly.
  • You communicate clearly. You can express yourself clearly in conversation and text, and you can write clear, error-free emails with a conversational but professional tone.
  • You’re open to feedback and know (or can quickly learn) the core skills for doing this work. You need to be comfortable using and learning how to use a range of software tools.
  • You’re intellectually curious. This helps with almost any type of work, but more importantly, it’s a key part of our company culture.
  • You understand RC and want to help make it successful. This doesn’t need to be your life’s mission but you do need to understand what RC is, how your work contributes to its success, and want to be part of a thriving team.

We also have some logistical requirements:

  • You need to have US work authorization and work from one of the 50 US states (we’re unfortunately unable to sponsor visas for this role).
  • Your work day has at least five hours of overlap with 9am-5pm ET.
  • You’re fully vaccinated. All RC employees must be fully vaccinated, even if remote (we still meet up in-person sometimes).

Lastly, it’s great if you have some experience or familiarity with any of the following: bookkeeping, support, data entry, recruiting, marketing, the tech industry, or the world of computer programming. But none of these things are necessary and you can be a strong candidate without any of them.

What to expect from our interview process

Our interview process has three parts: an email, an initial Zoom call, and a half day of interviews (also all over Zoom).

Email us

The first step is to email ops@recurse.com with your resume or publicly accessible LinkedIn profile. Please confirm in your message that you meet the logistical requirements above and include short answers to the following questions:

  1. What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve learned recently?
  2. What are one or two things that attracted you to this job?
  3. What’s your biggest concern about RC or this role?

None of these are trick questions. Instead, like every part of our process, they’re meant to help us assess how you meet the requirements listed above. Please don’t write more than two or three sentences for each answer. Please do use thoughtful, conversational English and proof-read what you write (writing clear, error-free emails is part of this job).

Initial Zoom call

We’ll let you know within one week of when you apply whether or not we’d like to proceed with a call, which is the second step of our process. These calls are between 30 and 45 minutes long. This is an opportunity not just for us to learn about you, but for you to learn more about RC and to suss out if this role might be a good fit for you.

Interviews

The third and final step of our process is a set of online interviews. These interviews are meant to be as representative as possible of the work you would do at RC. Throughout the course of your interviews you’ll get a chance to meet with several RC employees and ask any questions you have. If you reach this stage, we’ll give you a $200 Amazon gift card as a thank-you for your time, regardless of if we make an offer.

We’ll let you know within two weeks of your interview whether or not we’re making an offer (we can usually tell you faster than this, but we ask for and speak with references, and sometimes it takes a few days to coordinate these calls).

Other things to know

  • If you’re considering applying, you should spend some time reading our about page, blog, and User’s Manual to get a sense of our company and your potential coworkers.
  • We’re currently a team of nine full-time employees. We plan to be a team of about 12 full-time (plus one or two part-time) people by the end of the year.
  • While our whole company currently works from home, some of us will eventually return to working in our office in Brooklyn. Some roles (including Operations Assistant) will remain open to being fully remote even after we return to our office. Of course, if you’re based in New York, you’re welcome to work from our office, too.
  • If you tell someone about this job and we hire them, we’ll donate $250 to a non-profit of your choice. How? We’ll ask whomever we hire if they found out about this job from a specific person. If they did, we’ll reach out and ask that person what non-profit they’d like us to donate to.

4 Questions with Ashley Li

Mai Schwartz

In this series, we sit down with Recursers in batch to learn about the work they’re doing at the Recurse Center and what they’re most excited about right now! In this installment, we talked to physicist Ashley Li about her interests in machine learning and cultural theory.

Ashley Li

Ashley Li

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I recently graduated with a masters in physics. Thus far, basically all of my work has been in academia doing research. My specific area in physics was dark matter detection so that’s taking detectors from deep underground, analyzing the particles they see, and hoping for something that hasn’t been seen before.

I’m also starting to get involved in digital humanities, which has always been an interest of mine. I’ve been learning and contributing to various research groups on internet culture.

What brings you to RC at this particular moment in your life?

I had just graduated and I felt like my programming knowledge was a bit ad hoc. I always learned what I needed for each project, but I never really had the time to do machine learning by itself in any formal way or in the form of personal projects. I wanted the opportunity to work on just programming that I’m interested in, alongside other people.

What are you excited about right now, programming-wise?

I have an ever-growing list of things! One of the most consistent things I’ve done throughout RC has been the electronic music group. We meet weekly to work through a course on electronic music theory, make music ourselves, and talk about it. I wanted to have part of RC be a creative outlet and explore the things that just made programming fun. At the beginning, I thought this would be more of a side quest but it’s been really interesting and I’ve learned a lot.

I’m really excited about machine learning. It’s a cool field, it’s a great statistical tool to use in research, and it has applications in many different types of research. I’m also exploring ways to use it to produce cultural artifacts by itself.

ML is typically described as a black box, which I don’t think is entirely right. Personally, I think it should be treated no differently from any other statistical tool for analysis. The ways that it gives predictions are not obvious to human observers, but that’s true of most statistical tools. There’s an expectation that machine learning should tell you why something happens.

At the same time, there’s a certain degree of complexity to it that gives it some autonomy that works pretty well in art. So it’s interesting to me as both an analysis tool and as an object of study in its own right.

What are you excited about right now, outside of programming?

Earlier, I mentioned my interest in Internet culture research. The Internet has changed the way society and culture function and I’m interested in cultural critiques specific to the Internet — for instance, meme studies.

I’m interested in the functions of Internet content and memes and modes of affirmation, such as upvotes and likes. I think it’s particularly fruitful to look at through the lens of the Frankfurt school of critical theory, which was developed in the mid 20th century with a major focus on critiquing the culture industry. It’s still relevant now, even though time has passed and the historical context has changed immensely.


If you’re interested in learning and working alongside programmers like Ashley, apply to RC!

4 Questions with Joseph Dumont

Mai Schwartz

In this series, we sit down with Recursers in batch to learn about the work they’re doing at the Recurse Center and what they’re most excited about right now! In this installment, we talked to hydrogeologist Joseph Dumont about the motivation he’s found in following his curiosity, experimenting, and building relationships at RC.

Joseph Dumont

Joseph Dumont

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m a hydrogeologist. Until recently, I worked in the environmental field on water resource and environmental remediation projects. Now I’m trying to make a transition into tech. I’m not entirely sure what that will look like, but RC is my space to learn and experiment with different projects — and to see what other people are working on too.

I’ve always had an interest in programming and I’ve been doing it casually for a long time. At work, I started using programming tools to make my job easier and to help with data analysis. I found myself becoming more and more interested in pursuing those things more exclusively. But there wasn’t really space at my old jobs or there wasn’t a vision for a feasible role doing that, so I’m making a different path now.

What brings you to RC at this particular moment in your life?

I had a friend who went to RC five years ago and she really encouraged me to apply, so I’ve been checking RC out from a distance for a long time. With batches being virtual now, and the fact that I quit my job during the pandemic, I felt like it was a good time to make a change and things just came together.

It’s been great! It’s been a wonderful social outlet. I know that may sound ridiculous because it’s virtual, but it’s still the most new people I’ve met in a long time. Even though it’s on Zoom, it’s been nice to meet nerdy people and have interesting conversations.

I was doing some formal computer science education and my only interaction there was limited to other students. For someone in my position, who’s aiming for a career change, it’s really valuable to interact with people who are taking sabbaticals from their careers and talk with people already working in the industry to get a better sense of what I can do. So that’s been very reassuring and helpful.

Image of Pure Data patch

A sample patch that Joseph made in the electronic music group at RC. It’s in Pure Data, a visual programming language for signal processing and interactive computer music.

What are you excited about right now, programming-wise?

I have an ever growing list of things! One of the most consistent things I’ve done throughout RC has been the electronic music group. We meet weekly to work through a course on electronic music theory, make music ourselves, and talk about it. I wanted to have part of RC be a creative outlet and explore the things that just made programming fun. At the beginning, I thought this would be more of a side quest but it’s been really interesting and I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve also been picking up JavaScript, learning some web technologies, and putting together my first web app, which is something that feels practical and essential for a career changer. I’ve been trying to balance those two things.

I took a survey approach and dipped in and out of some other groups just to explore. I started learning Rust and I hope to go back to that once I finish up this web app.

It’s a long list! It’s been very motivating seeing the projects other people work on, especially at Friday presentations. Other people’s enthusiasm is infectious, and it’s exciting to see what’s possible. It’s cool to know I can continue to participate and learn from the community beyond my batch.

What are you excited about right now, outside of programming?

A lot — I feel like a spring that’s been pulled back! There are lots of new beginnings coming. I’m maybe going to move in the winter and I’ll be applying for different jobs.

I’ve been swimming a lot lately, which has been very exciting for me. Actually, the web app that I’m building is related to that. I’m trying to swim outdoors year-round, so this project is about water quality and updating with weekly environmental sampling results, so that you know if it’s safe to swim in the bay or the ocean. I feel like using a tool I made myself will help keep me motivated as water temperatures drop.

I’ve also been oil painting and that feels really nice to play with. This moment feels a little scary, but it’s exciting. It feels like a nice moment for changes in a changing world.


If you’re interested in learning and working alongside programmers like Joseph, apply to RC!

4 Questions with Meri Leeworthy

Mai Schwartz

In this series, we sit down with current Recursers to learn about the work they’re doing at the Recurse Center and what they’re most excited about right now! For the third installment, we talked to Meri Leeworthy about how her experiences as an artist, activist, and new mom led her to programming.

Meri Leeworthy

Meri Leeworthy

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I have a background in both art and activism. I was making performance art for a while and I started to use some different technologies in my performances. At one point, I bought a second-hand receipt printer and I spent a long time trying to find a hacky way to customize it — and to do that live, causing it to glitch out as part of the performance. So I was doing that in Python and that’s one thing that made me realize I really enjoy programming.

I’ve also been exploring a few different sides of activism for years now. I worked with some direct action campaigns and mutual aid projects. More recently, I worked with an organization that supports LGBTQ+ prisoners to create a newsletter distributed among people in prison, which is a really important way of trying to build connection and community and solidarity in a highly controlled environment.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve focused on creating a participatory media platform for grassroots organizers. The goal is to create a community-owned platform that can better support communication and knowledge sharing among organizers. It’s an infrastructure project in a way, similar to how people run social centers or community radio.

There are other people on the project, but I’m the only developer. When I started working on it, I had really limited knowledge about web development, but I just kept iterating on the idea to build different proofs of concept, learning new tools and tech stacks along the way. I went from working with all JavaScript to starting to learn TypeScript and GraphQL and taking on more complex projects from there.

What brings you to RC at this particular moment in your life?

One thing is that I have a baby now. I realized that I would like to keep doing programming while supporting my family, and that maybe a good way to continue learning over the long term would be to have a job. It’s kind of funny thinking about getting a tech job when most of my experience has been in this activist context, so I was interested in doing something that from the perspective of employers would legitimize all of the work and learning that I’ve done on my own, as well as continue it. That was one reason for thinking about RC.

The other reason is that I was really interested in going deeper on some tricky parts of the project that I’ve been working on and having some time to really dig into it, as a way to both further my learning journey and make that project happen.

What are you excited about right now, programming-wise?

I’m really excited about conflict-free replicated data types (CRDTs), and I’m lucky that a few other people in the batch share this interest. Also distributed systems in general, which I had not learned about at all before starting RC. A lot of the peer-to-peer networking software community sits really in line with the values that drive me to do the work that I’ve been doing, in terms of undermining existing power structures and using technology to support communities to be more autonomous.

So it’s been really exciting learning about CRDTs, especially how they can support peer-to-peer offline collaboration. I’ve also been learning about the Secure Scuttlebutt protocol and other decentralized data stores, which has been really interesting.

What are you excited about right now, outside of programming?

I have a feeling that my baby is going to start laughing soon and I’m really excited for that to happen. Also taking them to swimming classes.


You can see more of Meri’s work on her website and GitHub.

If you’re interested in learning and working alongside programmers like Meri, apply to RC!

4 Questions with Laura Tessin

Mai Schwartz

In this series, we sit down with current Recursers to learn about the work they’re doing at the Recurse Center and what they’re most excited about right now! For the second installment, we talked to Laura Tessin. An electrical engineer by training, before she came to RC Laura was helping to launch satellites into orbit.

Laura Tessin

Laura Tessin

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

My background is in electrical engineering. I finished my masters in Germany about three years ago and afterwards I moved to San Francisco to work for a startup that builds a satellite subsystem. It was pretty cool! When I started there, I was employee number 15 and then we grew to 70 people or so. This past summer, we launched our first two satellites. I was part of that development, which was very, very exciting.

My main job was to help with the integration of the satellite, both the hardware and the software side, since we were developing both the ground software and the onboard software. My job was to bring the two together and check that everything was working from the ground to every single payload. With about five payloads per satellite, that was a really interesting job.

When you study electrical engineering, the focus is usually not on software. We did have a couple of systems classes and we did learn some C++, but I discovered that I’m not the hugest fan of developing embedded software.

My dream job would involve working with hardware, but on a high enough level that I could use Python. My last job actually did fulfill that! I feel like for me, software is great, as long as you have hardware on the other end and you can actually see what your program is running on. It’s really cool.

What brings you to RC at this particular moment in your life?

I first heard about RC four or five years ago and I thought it sounded amazing. I read about it on Julia Evans’s blog, where she described the different things she did each day, and what she learned. I thought it was so cool that you could actually focus on a specific topic. There are no deadlines, and no pressure in the form of a test at the end or anything like that.

So I discovered it and then I kind of forgot about it again. Then this summer after the satellite launch, I felt like I had this big achievement that I was done with and I wanted to take a break and see what comes next.

I remembered RC and I thought this was the perfect moment. I had the time and I wanted to see what else is out there. Because I’d been using software as a tool to interact with hardware, I wanted to focus more on programming itself. I wanted to take the time to actually understand more of the principles behind the work I’d been doing.

So RC was the perfect next step, I would say.

What are you excited about right now, programming-wise?

Coming into RC, I was very excited about taking the time to build my own Python project. I’m still excited about that, but now I’ve discovered like four different new things! I’m working through Full Stack Open and learning JavaScript, which is a completely different language and works very differently than Python. And I discovered the weekly creative coding group, which I’m really excited about. It’s a great reason to just do something for fun!

An animation Laura made at RC

What are you excited about right now, outside of programming?

I’m excited about traveling again. This year was the first time in a long time that I could go back to Germany to visit my family, which was really beautiful.


You can see more of Laura’s work on her website and GitHub.

If you’re interested in learning and working alongside programmers like Laura, apply to RC!

4 Questions with Diana Ilithya

Mai Schwartz

In this series, we sit down with current Recursers to learn about the work they’re doing at the Recurse Center and what they’re most excited about right now! Our first interview is with Diana Ilithya, who’s attending RC virtually from Germany. She’s treating her batch as an artist residency, working on a variety of shaders and creative coding projects.

Diana Ilithya

Diana Ilithya

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m a digital artist, a creative developer, and a designer. I’ve been freelancing for about 12 years. I started out in web design and then became a front end developer, so I was always bouncing back and forth between doing web design and front end work for about a decade.

About three years ago, I discovered creative coding and it blew my mind! It changed the whole perspective I had on programming. I had always struggled with my twin interests in design and front end work, but there was no job at that time where I could do both. I always had to pick one and then I would miss the other. When I discovered creative coding, I felt like: Oh, this is where I can apply both things, and also work with the arts, which has always been a hobby of mine.

So I started doing creative development and only taking on front end work that’s related to WebGL, which is more creative even if it’s corporate. That’s where I am at the moment.

Shader with black and white striped snakes on a hot pink background

Snake shader

What brings you to RC at this particular moment in your life?

Since I started to do a lot more visual art and installations last year and really think of myself as an artist, I learned that there are these things called artist residencies where you go and work on something digital art related. I was searching for one all year and I couldn’t find anything that I really liked.

Then I heard about RC from Char Stiles and Sol Sarratea, who also do digital art and work with shaders. They had attended and they said that they really enjoyed their time and that you could work on any project that interests you. So I thought I could go to RC and create my own artist residency there.

Because I’m also a self-taught programmer, when I read about RC, it seemed like the perfect place to do this because I’d not only get to tackle and explore further the art that I want to do, but I could also improve as a developer and do pair programming and meet like-minded people.

That’s why I decided to join RC!

Shader with feathery blue and pink diagonal stripes

Feather shader

What are you excited about right now, programming-wise?

Shaders! When I discovered that a lot of the visuals in concerts are done with shaders, that blew my mind. Music is very important to me; it’s high on the list of things that inspire me. That’s one of the reasons I got into shaders.

The second reason was because I wanted to do more installation work as an artist and shaders are a big way to do that. Thirdly, I can also do shaders with WebGL as a creative developer.

Shader with spinning rainbow helix made of metallic hexagons

Glitch shader

What are you excited about right now, outside of programming?

Probably the most exciting thing is that I’m going back home to Mexico in December. I haven’t been back for three and a half years now because I’m based in Germany. I’m really happy that I’m going to be able to go there and spend three months back home. That’s the most exciting thing I’m looking forward to right now.


You can see more of Ilithya’s work on her website, GitHub, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you’re interested in learning and working alongside programmers like Ilithya, apply to RC!

We’re hiring! Join the Recurse Center as a Career Facilitator

James J. Porter

Update: As of September 24th, 2021, we are no longer hiring for this role.

We’re hiring a Career Facilitator to help run our recruiting business. This involves supporting members of our community in their careers and cultivating relationships with partner companies, with lots of room to help rethink and improve how we approach our work. This role offers a chance to help grow a unique company, fulfilling work, a supportive environment with collaborative colleagues, and good work-life balance and benefits.

Read on to learn more about RC and this job, and to find out how to apply. If you’re not sure whether you’re qualified, please do apply or email us at ops@recurse.com to ask. We’re a small team seeking a good fit, and we think qualities like good judgment and emotional intelligence are more important than the titles of your past jobs. We would much rather hear from you than not!

A unique business and community

RC is a unique institution. We run a free and self-directed programming retreat, a community of over 2,000 alums, and a recruiting agency, all of which are integrated and support each other. Our revenue comes from recruiting fees paid by our partner companies when they hire alumni we refer to them.

Until 2020, we ran our retreats in our space in Brooklyn, New York, and we started operating online when the pandemic struck. Once it’s safe to re-open our space, we plan to try a hybrid model, in which Recursers can choose to attend online or in-person. Like many things about RC, this is an experiment—we don’t know what the best approach is, or if it will succeed, but we’re excited to try it out and learn along the way.

Our views on education are unorthodox. We reject the overt and subtle coercion of school and believe people should get to decide what they learn and why and how they learn it. We don’t have grades, teachers, or any kind of curriculum. Instead, we provide time, space, resources, and a supportive community in which to grow.

Our approach to recruiting is similarly unconventional. While many recruiting agencies operate on a “quantity over quality” basis by referring any candidate they can find to as many jobs as possible, RC is different. We work hard to understand what Recursers and our partner companies are looking for, and only make introductions where we think it genuinely makes sense for both parties, after confirming mutual interest. We also stick with companies and Recursers throughout the interview process, checking in and offering support.

We’re in this for the long haul. We’ve been running RC for ten years, iterating and improving on everything we do, and we’re still far from having it all figured out. As part of a small team, you’ll play an important role in helping us improve further.

Fulfilling work

By helping to run, improve, and grow RC, you can have a huge impact on our small but steadily growing community. Your work at RC may not change the world, but it will change individual people’s lives.

People genuinely love RC. Alums routinely tell us RC was one of or even the most impactful, meaningful, productive, or transformative period of their lives. We’ve helped people find their first programming jobs, meet lifelong friends and colleagues, and discover what they really want out of their lives and careers. Alums have told us RC changed their approach to programming, their beliefs about education, and even how they think about themselves and relate to other people.

Our community loves RC so much that they collectively donated over $300,000 to help us make it through the pandemic. When our business did better than expected and it turned out we didn’t need the money for operational expenses, we used it to restart our grants program, through which we’ve given out $1.7 million since launching it in 2012. All of this money has gone directly to Recursers who are women, trans, nonbinary, Black, Latinx, and/or Native American to pay for living expenses during their time at RC.

As a Career Facilitator, you’ll primarily be focused on our recruiting business, including:

  • Helping Recursers with all aspects of their job searches, whether they just finished their batch or came to RC years ago. This involves meeting with them to learn more about their goals and backgrounds, editing their resumes and professional communications, introducing them to our partner companies, helping them move through interviews and negotiate offers, and giving them feedback and moral support.
  • Supporting Recursers with their careers more generally. You’ll help them figure out their goals, make their jobs work better for them, negotiate for promotions and raises, and resolve conflicts at work.
  • Building and maintaining relationships with our partner companies. This involves learning about their hiring needs, finding Recursers for their open roles, organizing hiring events, on-boarding new companies, and soliciting and integrating feedback about how RC could better meet their needs.
  • Improving our process for doing all of the above. We have well-developed processes and software for doing recruiting work, but they’re far from perfect. After onboarding (we wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to do this from day one!), you’ll help us interrogate why we do things the way we do, then come up with and implement improvements.

Although the primary focus of this job is recruiting, we view RC as an integrated whole, and all of us sometimes jump in and help with other parts of our business. Working at RC requires being adaptable and willing to wear different hats as our organizational needs change.

For example, Sydney joined RC as a Career Facilitator three years ago and now splits her time between recruiting and product research for RC Together, the virtual space software we built to run RC online during the pandemic.

A collaborative environment with supportive colleagues

We work hard to foster a culture that’s collaborative, trusting, and thoughtful. Here are some things you’ll find working at RC:

  • Clear company-wide goals and the reasoning behind them. You’ll have an understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish together and why.
  • Our belief in self-direction isn’t only for Recursers, it also influences how we approach our own work. At RC, you’ll have the freedom and the responsibility to decide how to structure your time and your projects (with plenty of support).
  • Weekly one-on-ones to give and receive regular feedback and help you work through frustrations or challenges with your work.
  • Complete organizational transparency. You will have access to whatever information about RC you want, up to and including all employee and founder salaries and how much money we have in our bank account.
  • A culture of direct, but kind and constructive feedback. This helps us quickly resolve disagreements and work together more effectively.
  • A writing review stream in our private chat and an accompanying culture of review. We copyedit and review all our writing, from blog posts to tweets.

Good work-life balance and benefits

All of us at RC work hard and care deeply about what we do. At the same time, all of us have lives and loved ones outside of work, and we know you do, too.

We strive to have a culture that supports our employees to do their best work in a sustainable way, so that all of us can contribute effectively over the long run. Here are some of the things you’ll find here to help with this:

  • Full health, vision, and dental insurance. RC covers 100% of the premium for the standard plans for all employees, as well as their partners and families. RC also pays the full premium for basic life insurance.
  • A 401k, with a 3% non-elective contribution from RC. The company contributes 3% on top of your salary to a 401k for you regardless of how much or even if you choose to contribute yourself. RC also covers the annual administration fees.
  • Three months of paid parental leave, which you can take within a year of having or adopting a child.
  • 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 nine additional holidays. We also have five days for personal development, which you can use for anything that supports your personal and professional goals and growth.

Many companies have stated policies that aren’t followed in practice, but that’s not the case at RC. For example, RC’s CEO Nick took two months of parental leave when his son was born in 2019, and planned to take the third later in 2020 before the pandemic disrupted his plans.

Downsides and other things to know

No job is perfect, and this one is no exception. Here’s what we think the biggest downsides are:

  • Some of the work is emotionally draining.
  • Some of the work is unglamorous or tedious (we’re a seven-person company, so we all have to do some amount of mopping up, figuratively and sometimes literally).
  • This role also occasionally requires taking calls or responding to emails in the evenings or during weekends. We try to avoid this, but we sometimes need to help Recursers in time-sensitive situations (like negotiating offers with deadlines). Once we re-open our Brooklyn space, we plan to restart hosting regular events for our community in the evenings, and this role requires attending a few of these each month.

A few other things to know, which might be upsides or downsides depending on your perspective:

  • This is a full-time role, and you will eventually need to be able to work on-site at our office in Brooklyn, NYC. For now, some of us work from home and some of us work from the office, but we don’t plan to support remote work indefinitely. If you don’t currently live in New York, you will need to relocate here.
  • RC is a dynamic place — some might say chaotic. You need to be comfortable with some amount of uncertainty to be happy working here.
  • Relatedly, we are small and our success is far from certain. This is exciting or stressful (or both) depending on your perspective.
  • The salary range for this role is $100,000 to $115,000.

What we’re looking for in candidates

  • You’re a clear, effective communicator in writing and verbally, online or in-person.
  • You enjoy interacting with people: you’re empathetic, have a high emotional intelligence (“EQ”), and can handle occasional difficult interactions.
  • You’re intellectually curious.
  • You’re self-directed and collaborative.
  • You’re good at giving and receiving direct feedback.
  • You’re adaptable, and able to go from a goal to a plan for achieving it, then execute on that plan.
  • You’re conscientious and have good judgment: you keep your commitments, do what you say you’re going to, and do it well.
  • You share our core beliefs about education and our business. Dissent and skepticism are great, but if we don’t all agree on enough of the big things we’ll never get anything done.
  • You have career goals we can support. For example, this is not a great job for someone who wants to eventually be managing a team of ten, because RC is unlikely to grow that much anytime soon.

Lastly, there are some things you might think are required for this role but aren’t. You don’t need to have a specific degree (or any degree at all), you don’t need to have worked at a “name brand” company, and you don’t need an existing connection with RC to be a strong candidate.

What to expect from our interview process

Our interview process has three parts: an email, a phone call, and a day of interviews conducted online using Zoom.

Email us

The first step is to email ops@recurse.com with your resume or publicly accessible LinkedIn profile. Please include short answers to the following questions:

  1. What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve learned recently?
  2. What are your career goals for the next few years?
  3. What’s your biggest concern about RC or this job?

None of these are trick questions. Instead, like every part of our process, they’re meant to help us assess how you meet the requirements listed above. Please don’t write more than a few sentences for each answer. Please do use thoughtful, conversational English and proof-read what you write.

Phone screen

We’ll let you know within one week of when you apply whether or not we’d like to proceed with a phone screen, which is the second step of our process. Our phone screens are between 45 and 90 minutes long. This is an opportunity not just for us to learn about you, but for you to learn more about RC and to suss out if this role might be a good fit for you. As such, up to half of our time on the call will be reserved for you to ask us questions.

Interviews

The third and final step of our process is a day of online interviews. These interviews are meant to be as representative as possible of the work you would do at RC. Throughout the course of your interviews you’ll get a chance to meet with every RC employee, as well as a few Recursers, and ask lots of questions.

A few extra things to know

  • If you’re considering applying, you should spend some time reading our about page, blog, and User’s Manual to get a sense of our company and your potential coworkers.
  • Most of the company starts work between 9 and 10am, and leaves between 5 and 6pm.
  • 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 2022, which is not feasible for us. We may be able to transfer existing H-1Bs.

Grants of up to $7,000 now available for upcoming batches of RC

Rachel Petacat

Thanks to the generosity of our alumni community, we are delighted to announce that we are again offering living expense grants of up to $7,000 to people from groups that are underrepresented in programming, for all of our upcoming batches.

Eligibility

Our grants are available to people who identify as women (cis or trans), trans*, genderqueer, non-binary, Black, Latino/a/x, Native American, and/or Pacific Islander. Since the Recurse Center is free for everyone, the grants are intended to be used for living expenses during your batch, and to make RC more accessible to you if you could not otherwise afford to attend.

You may request a grant of up to $7,000 for a 12-week batch, $3,500 for a 6-week batch, or $500 for a one-week mini retreat. Apply here!

A brief history of our grants program

In early 2012, we began offering living expense grants funded by Etsy and other recruiting partners. In 2015, we began funding these grants ourselves, and continued to do so until early 2020. In total, we have disbursed nearly $1.7 million in grants and Fellowships.

Last March, when we closed our space and moved RC online, we prepared for a significant loss of income. RC makes money from recruiting fees, and we expected a major macroeconomic downturn that would severely impact our business. In order to keep RC in operation and avoid layoffs – our main priorities – we cut every expense we could, including our grants program.

Thankfully, not only did our business do much better than we expected it to do in 2020, we also received generous financial support from our alumni community. As a result, we are able to restart our grants program, with grants now being funded entirely by donations from the RC community.

Grants are the best way we’ve found to make attending RC possible for more people from groups that are historically underrepresented in programming. RC is already free, and right now it’s more accessible than ever: while we’re operating online people don’t have to pay for housing in or travel to New York City. Over the past year, we’ve welcomed people from over 100 different cities and nearly every time zone across the globe.

But there are there are still many costs associated with taking time away from work and family obligations: lost wages, childcare, health insurance, and more. And though our gender balance has been better than ever this year (our next batch is over 50% women, trans*, and/or non-binary people) we still have work to do to make RC more racially diverse and consistently gender balanced.

If you’d like to learn more about what participating in RC remotely is like, check out our Virtual RC page! And if you have any questions about applying to RC, email us.

How to improve your calls and reduce Zoom fatigue

Mai Schwartz

The core value of RC is the community: meeting people, programming together, and supporting each other’s growth and learning by sharing ideas and advice.

Because of this, we’ve spent a lot of time on video over the past year. And many of us have experienced “Zoom fatigue,” that hard to define but easy to identify lousy feeling you can get after too many video calls.

While Zoom fatigue is real, we think it’s too broad a term to be useful. Bad video calls — ones that are under-scoped, vague in purpose, un-facilitated, or awkward — are draining no matter their length. But thoughtfully structured group calls and productive pairing sessions can be energizing, even when they’re long.

This post is an overview of some of the practices we’ve developed to help make RC online as collaborative and dynamic a space as possible, while minimizing fatigue1.

Have a designated facilitator

When no one is explicitly in charge of a meeting, that role will often default to the person who is the loudest or has the most institutional power. A facilitator can help avoid this problem by making sure people are engaged, conversations are moving, needs are being addressed, notes are taken, etc. Like in real life, structure and facilitation make for more impactful remote meetings; better to have them and not need them than the other way around.

We’ve found that groups of up to six or so can interact pretty seamlessly on Zoom without a moderator, but only if they already know each other or have a shared connection. A facilitator is crucial for larger groups, or for meetings of any size where there are decisions to be made and everyone’s input is needed. Large meetings also benefit from a secondary support person to answer questions, troubleshoot issues, and post transcripts in the chat for accessibility (the latter is especially important for very large group calls, where it isn’t feasible to repeat things for someone who briefly lost their connection or was distracted).

Of course, just having a facilitator isn’t enough. The purpose of the call should be clear to everyone on it, and the facilitator needs to be skilled and comfortable enough in the role to keep the conversation rich and on-topic.

Facilitate actively

The facilitator is responsible for setting the agenda and, crucially, making sure everyone arrives at the call knowing what it is and why they’re there. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a rigid or detailed agenda, it just means that everyone should know what’s expected of them in terms of preparation and participation. Set these expectations in advance and check in about them briefly at the beginning of the call.

At the most basic level, the facilitator should keep a queue of who would like to speak. Zoom’s “raise hand” feature makes it difficult to keep stack, so we ask people to type “hand” into the chat instead. The moderator can change the order to prioritize people who have not spoken yet over those who have already gone. If using this turn-taking system, it’s helpful to announce who’s up, as well as who’s on deck to speak next.

Because we have less access to body language and other nonverbal cues online, it’s extra important to be mindful of who’s speaking a lot and try to make space in conversations for others to jump in. If you’re leading an event, be cognizant of the flow of the conversation, and try to make space for people who may be quieter to join in. Allow pauses and silences so everyone has a chance to contribute. Make it a point to ask explicitly: does anyone who hasn’t spoken yet want to share?

Include the physical environment whenever possible

Part of what’s exhausting and alienating about video calls is feeling as though we have to behave like the disembodied heads that others are seeing. Sharing in each other’s physical environments can help us feel more grounded and connected to ourselves and others. It’s the simplest manifestation of “bring your whole self.”

Concretely, this can mean welcoming the real world when it enters the frame. Whether it’s children, pets, family members, or household mishaps, you can choose to think of it as connection fodder, not distraction. It’s an opportunity to get to know your colleagues as real people and acknowledge that we’re all working in our homes for better or worse.

We’ve found it valuable to go one step further and create opportunities for this kind of connection by hosting Show & Tells. Since there are new people at RC all the time, we regularly hold events where we go around and each person shows off things from their home and shares stories about them. We’ve done these with pets, books, artwork, and “three things we can see on your webcam.” This makes it easy to discover shared interests, build deeper connections, and respond organically when our lives show up on camera.

Social events should feel different than meetings

The grid on a video call looks the same whether you’re having a budget meeting or a personal coffee chat. It requires intention and planning to change the context so that social events feel connected and alive, rather than draining. Our team hangouts got a million times better when we started experimenting with activities to do together.

For example, our team of seven each ordered a meal kit from Xi’an Famous Foods and we scheduled a one-hour lunch hangout to cook hand-pulled noodles together. We left our laptops on our counters and either used wireless headphones or ditched them entirely. It didn’t feel like a video call because we weren’t stuck in our chairs or even looking at our screens most of the time.

Since then, we’ve decorated cookies, assembled terrariums, made fancy cocktails, and played Minecraft together. We’ve also done trivia nights (fun for a big group, with opportunities to talk more in depth in small groups) and Recursers host regular events like Knit for a Bit and Art Night, where people hang out on Zoom while working on painting and craft projects. Get creative! Parallel play is great for all age groups.

Establish shared norms about how to use common Zoom features

Zoom has a lot of features that you can configure to support your specific needs, and we won’t go too deeply into that here. However, even the basic features can have a powerful impact if you use them thoughtfully.

Display names: Calls feel more real and connected when people use their name as their display name on Zoom (as opposed to “iPhone” or “J’s MacBook”). They can optionally add other relevant information such as their pronouns, what time zone they’re in, or their role, team, or company in large meetings where not everyone knows each other.

Chat: The chat is best used as a way to complement an on-going conversation, show support and encouragement, and as a way for someone who is hesitant to speak via voice/video to contribute to the conversation. Keep chats on-topic when others are talking to avoid distracting side channels that distance others from the conversation at hand (“Why is everyone laughing at a joke that I didn’t see?”) and create confusion (two different communication channels to pay attention to).

Muting: When we first got online, we followed the common norm of muting everyone by default. We now think this makes things feel worse, so we ask people to be unmuted unless they’re in a noisy place or need to type. It feels much more natural to address a group when there’s even a small amount of mumbled ‘mhm’s and white noise, especially when you’re screen-sharing and can’t see anyone’s face. Speaking to the void feels terrible for obvious reasons! During our weekly technical talks, we ask everyone to unmute and clap at the end of every presentation.

Sharing sound: Large group meetings can start out a little awkwardly. After a certain point, group size gets too large to make small talk, but you don’t want to start the meeting preemptively before a critical mass arrives, and so you’re left waiting. The solution? Play some music. We’ve found that having the host (or a helper) share their audio and play something while folks arrive can make the event feel much nicer. Once the meeting’s ready to go, just fade out the music.

Filters and backgrounds: Don’t use them. They’re distracting and they flatten the experience of talking to people. If there are good reasons to do so, like the privacy of others in your household, Zoom now has one that just blurs out your background. We think that works well to retain the depth and dimensionality of your space while hiding your unfolded laundry.

Think in terms of rooms instead of meetings

We rarely use ad hoc or personal meeting links for calls. Instead, we set up persistent Zoom meetings that mirror the rooms in our physical space and configured them to behave like physical rooms as much as possible. For instance, we disable Zoom’s waiting room feature and allow participants to join before the hosts so dropping in and out is as easy as possible.

We’ve built our own tool, RC Together, which lets us lay these rooms out on a map, so you can find them spatially, and see what’s scheduled there and who’s inside before joining. Different rooms have different norms; for example, anyone is always welcome to drop in to the couches area, but if there are two people in Shannon, you can assume they’re having a private conversation.

Virtual RC

What the space looks like on a typical day at RC

Knowing who’s on a call before you join, what they’re up to, and whether they’d welcome additional people, reduces the anxiety many people feel about video calls and lowers the friction to joining (and leaving!) conversations.

We’re still learning and refining our practices, and some of our best improvements came from sharing our struggles with the RC community and getting direct feedback. Being transparent about these processes and inviting everyone to participate in making your working culture more collaborative isn’t just helpful, it builds that culture in action. If you want to try out RC Together, reach out to us or email us to let us know how these suggestions worked for you. We’d love to hear from you!

  1. We know Zoom has plenty of problems, both technical and otherwise. It’s also by far the best tool we’ve found for talking to people remotely. We’ve tried many others, and Zoom works better than all of them when it comes to video and audio quality and cross-platform compatibility. Importantly, it works better than anything else on less powerful computers and not-great internet connections, and it keeps working even when there are hundreds of people on a call. For a good review of how improving your office setup can improve your video call experience dramatically, we like this blog post by Ben Kuhn.“

We’re offering $1,000 grants for our Spring 2 and Summer 1 batches

Rachel Petacat

Update: We’re now able to offer larger grants to a wider group of people, thanks to the support of our alumni! Read more here.

We’re granting a total of $20,000 need-based grants to programmers who are women (cis or trans), trans, and/or non-binary to attend our upcoming Spring 2 and Summer 1 virtual batches. You may request a grant of up to $1,000 for a 12-week batch, or $500 for a 6-week batch. Apply here!

We are not currently offering grants for batches other than Spring 2 and Summer 1, though we hope to be able to do so again soon!

Last March, when we closed our space and moved RC online, we prepared for a significant loss of income. RC makes money from recruiting fees, and in order to keep RC in operation and our team employed – our main priorities – we budgeted for the year assuming that our income would go to zero. To do that, we needed to cut our expenses significantly. One of the things we did was stop offering travel and living expense grants for our batches.

While we aren’t out of the woods yet, thanks to a year that was better than expected and the generous ongoing support of our alums, we are happily in a position to support people with smaller grants for a limited time. We know these grants won’t cover someone’s living expenses for six or 12 weeks, but we hope they help offset some of the costs associated with attending RC online.

We’ve been delighted by the number of people from around the world who have been able to to join RC by attending an online batch. But we still have work to do to make RC more gender-balanced and accessible. Offering grants to support women, trans, and non-binary people is one of the best ways we’ve found to do that.

If you’d like to learn more about what participating in RC remotely is like, check out our Virtual RC page! And if you have any questions about applying to RC, email us at admissions@recurse.com.

View older blog posts...