Zee Spencer

Defining My Dream Job

About a year ago I got back into freelancing and started building a small, distributed development studio. While I enjoyed the freedom and the people; I couldn't sustain the constant sales cycle and discovered management and operations is a recipe for burnout for me. My constant anxiety over payroll, bookkeeping and cash flow was/is debilitating.

I could write in depth about what I've learned about myself and running a business over the past year; or describe the agony of laying off good people who may struggle to find new work due to systemic bias; or tipping into depression due to a combination of burnout and the erosion of my self-confidence. But instead I'd like to look forward. It's less painful.

It is time to shut down the consultancy side of Zinc. Zinc will remain focused on The Apprenticeship Community and Just Enough Media. We've ramped down our delivery team, and while most have found new homes already; if you're a pairing company looking for junior and/or senior Javascript / Ruby developers ping me.

This also means I am officially looking for full or part-time work; and do not intend to continue consulting (at least, not primarily as a deliverer of software).

What would hiring me do for your team? My entire career has been built by combining a reasonable level of proficiency at shipping working software with the ability to to create opportunity for those around me to improve their skills.

My undying passion is helping teams and people become more effective. While I love working closely with a team of compassionate, curious, cross-skilled peers building solid software that meets customers needs and has a high degree of technical quality; my greatest love is helping people plan, execute, and reflect on their professional growth.

My ideal job consists of working with varied teams that recognize the value of people of different backgrounds, skill levels, and perspectives. The antithesis of the ego driven, senior obsessed, "We hire the best" mirrortocracy.

I want to focus on guiding and facilitating peer mentorship and intentional professional growth. I disagree completely with the notion that professional growth "happens naturally." It takes intentional investment in time and money. It requires recognition that social and personal structures are a critical part of a learning culture.

This isn't to say I won't be coding. Collaborating on projects is required to understand someone and assist them in planning their growth. I want contributions to be evaluated not by features shipped or tasks completed but by my fellow-workers ability to plan, observe and measure their professional growth.

If I were to write my own job description, it would look something like this:

  • Organizes and facilitates retrospectives, open-spaces, and other peer-learning activities.
  • Mob programs with teams and pair programs with individuals with an emphasis on gleaning understanding and reflection while doing work.
  • Facilitates one-on-one and/or small group learning planning and reflection.
  • Ships software as part of a set of teams, with an emphasis on cross-pollination.

Alternatively, I'd be happy to work with a company that can demonstrate that these responsibilities are taken care of already.

I can subsist as an independent freelancer indefinitely; and will continue to do so until I find the right place. How would I describe this place?

  1. It recognizes the insidious, destructive nature of micro-aggressions and subtle *isms and considers compassion a core skill.
  2. It has inoculated itself against "senior-coder-itis" and actively hires across skill levels and specializations; while paying equitable salaries.
  3. It prioritizes perks such as 401(k)s, trans-inclusive health care, and sustainable pace over ping pong tables and free beer.
  4. It is based somewhere with good mass transit; or allows remote work. I'm currently based out of Oakland, California and am highly interested in Montreal, Quebec.

If you are interested, I'd love to get in touch. If you're not, I'd appreciate a signal boost on social media.


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