We’re hiring an Online Facilitator! (US remote)

Rachel Petacat

Join the Recurse Center as an Online Facilitator and help us operate and improve our remote educational retreats for programmers! You’ll work with the rest of the team to run retreats, manage our online spaces, and support Recursers attending remotely.

Read on to learn more about RC, our interview process, hiring rubric, the role, 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.1

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.

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.

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).

When we do return to in-person operations, we’ll continue running our online retreats. Running virtual batches has made RC more accessible to people from across the world, and we want to continue to make online batches available to people for the foreseeable future. That’s why we’re hiring an Online Facilitator now: while we don’t yet have plans to reopen, we want to make sure we can support online and in-person retreats when we do, and that means growing our team!

The role

As an Online Facilitator you will work on the day-to-day operations of the retreat, including hosting office hours, running events, helping onboard new Recursers, and moderating our online spaces. You’ll also have the autonomy to make larger improvements to the retreat so that RC supports more people in having transformative experiences during their batches.

There are many ways you might do this, and we want whoever we hire to make this position their own. In the past, facilitators have led the installation and documentation of a computing cluster for Recursers, developed a Code of Conduct, made RC more family-friendly, and made numerous improvements to our recruiting process, including building a corps of mock interviewers.

You will also face hard problems. Improving the experience of doing a batch for Recursers involves a lot of one-on-one work with folks who are currently at RC, making policy changes that affect the entire community, and supporting Recursers who are struggling or in difficult situations. There often aren’t easy solutions to these kinds of problems, but you will always have the rest of the team to draw upon when you need support.

The team

We currently have five people working on the retreat, and you’ll work closely with them: there’s me, the Head of Retreat; Dave, one of our co-founders; Mai and James, our Facilitators; and Caroline, our Operations Assistant. You might also occasionally work with the rest of the team.

While you’ll be the only online-only facilitator, as of right now our entire team is working remotely, and you’ll have several months at least to get ramped up in this role while we continue to operate online. Once we reopen our space you’ll continue to collaborate with the team, but will be expected to exercise more autonomy in running and improving online batches.

Clear goals, transparency, and feedback

We work hard to foster a culture that’s collaborative, trusting, and thoughtful. Here are some of the things you will find that support this culture:

  • Clear company-wide goals and the reasoning behind them. You’ll have an understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish together and why. In 2022, the goal you will focus on is dramatically increasing the impact RC has on people by helping them follow our self-directives.
  • 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 to the history of our decisions and experiments.
  • Direct, 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.
  • Weekly one-on-ones to give and receive regular feedback and help you work through frustrations or challenges with your work.

Work that matters

As an Online Facilitator you’ll support Recursers in making the most of their batches. People come to RC for many different reasons and from a wide range of backgrounds in order to dramatically improve as programmers. Every batch is different, and every batch is full of fascinating, curious, kind people.

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.

Good work-life balance and benefits

You will work 40 hours a week and can do so remotely from anywhere in the US. If you’re in New York and like in-person work, you can work from our sunny office in Downtown Brooklyn as often or seldom as you like.

You’ll have friendly, supportive, diverse, and intellectually curious colleagues. We all care deeply about RC’s shared success, but we also never forget that this is, at the end of the day, a job. 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 you can contribute 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.
  • 12 weeks of paid parental leave, which you can take within a year of having or adopting a child.
  • 15 days of vacation (in practice we 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 six or more hours of overlap with 9am-6pm 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, our CEO Nick took two months of parental leave when his son was born in 2019, and was able to fully unplug from work during that time.

Downsides and other things to know

Like all jobs and companies, this one is far from perfect. Here are the biggest downsides we see.

  • We’re a small team, with lots to do, and there’s a good amount of context-switching you’ll need to do as a facilitator.
  • Relatively low pay (if you’re a programmer located in a major metro area). The salary offered for this role is $117k, regardless of where you’re based.
  • We’re not a rocket ship. While we aim to continue growing, our growth has been modest and is funded entirely by revenue. We’re not going to sell or IPO, so there’s no equity or big pay day potentially looming. Instead, our goal is to be a Small Giant. We’ve been privately owned, operated and profitable for over a decade, and we want to remain so indefinitely.

Our internal hiring rubric

Instead of a vague list of requirements, below you will find the exact rubric we will evaluate everyone on, along with an explanation of why we think each criterion is important. We don’t see any point in keeping our criteria a secret: interviewing is stressful enough as it is – you shouldn’t have to also guess what we’re trying to evaluate you on.

Every part of our interview process is intended to help us evaluate one or more of these criteria. We need to get a positive signal for each criterion (and ideally no negative signals) in order to confidently make an offer.

Criterion
Explanation
High emotional intelligence
You’ll need to support Recursers in having transformative experiences at RC, and be comfortable giving and receiving feedback and handling difficult conversations and decisions.
Intellectually curious
Important for fitting in with our team and culture, and connecting with Recursers.
Self-directed and collaborative
Self-directed because we expect you to be proactive, and able to recognize and address issues in real time and solve them independently or with the team.

Collaborative because there’s no way you’ll succeed on your own — you will need to work closely with most or all of the company and Recursers.

Systematic thinker
You can handle both the day-to-day tasks of running RC, and think about ways to make structural improvements to the retreat.
Clear communicator
You’ll spend lots of time talking to others, hosting events, and communicating with the community via emails and Zulip, our internal chat.
Knows how to program
You have experience programming and learning to program, and could hypothetically pair with a Recurser and answer technical questions.
Pleasant to work with
A requirement of everyone we hire.
Understands and is aligned with RC and our values
You will be responsible for creating and maintaining the learning environment at RC, which means understanding and believing in our values and beliefs about education.
Career goals are aligned with this role
You want to work remotely in the long-term, and are comfortable interacting primarily on Zoom. You don’t want a full-time programming job – while you’ll have the opportunity to pair and program while working at RC, it isn’t a significant part of this role.

What to expect from our interview process

This process is designed to evaluate the criteria listed above, and for you to evaluate if this role is a good fit for you.

Step 1: Email us. Please email ops@recurse.com with your resume and/or publicly viewable LinkedIn profile, along with short (1-3 sentences) answers to the following questions:

  • What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve learned in the last month?
  • What’s your biggest concern about RC or this job?
  • Share one or two things that attracted you to this job.

Step 2: Initial call. A 45-minute call with me (Rachel), James, or Mai. I’ll have some questions for you, and there will be plenty of time for you to ask me any questions you have about RC, this role, or anything else.

Step 3: A virtual on-site. You’ll spend a day working closely with several members of our team on things you’d be doing as an Online Facilitator. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to ask questions! We’ll give you a $250 Amazon gift card (or if you prefer, make a $250 donation to the non-profit of your choice) in appreciation of your time if you reach this stage.

Step 4: Reference checks and offer. As a final step before making an offer we will ask for and speak with two references.

After each step, we’ll do our best to let you know within two business days if you’re advancing to the next stage. (The exception to this is the final step, when it will likely take longer to let you know if we’re making an offer, in part because of the time it takes to schedule and speak with references.)

Other useful things to know

  • 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).
  • All RC employees must be fully vaccinated, even if remote (we still meet up in-person sometimes).
  • 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. You can also check out what other people say about RC.
  1. 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.