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The career change I need
November 10, 2008 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Do any progressive organizations need full-time programmers?

I just got done working as a data fellow for the Obama campaign. It was only three weeks, but I found it to be the most satisfying work I've done in about three years. It certainly wasn't the most sophisticated software engineering I've ever done - it was mostly ad hoc scripts in Perl, Greasemonkey, PHP, and SQL - but I knew that what I was doing had an effect on something I cared about.

Now, it's time for me to think about getting a regular job in the next month or so. Before I was thinking of getting out of programming, as I was getting less interested in technology for technology's sake, but now I'm thinking I'd like to work for a cause I care about with the skills I've built up over the last decade. Unfortunately, I don't really know how to find a job like that.

The causes I feel the most passionate about are civil rights and voter protection, but I'm generally on the liberal side of most issues, and it's certainly possible that some other cause could fire me up. Does anyone know where I should look? Or is this not a feasible thing to be looking for? The last couple of hours of Googling have been unsuccessful.
posted by ignignokt to Work & Money (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you would have better luck with large national non-profits as opposed to the smaller, more regional ones. But that's about the only thing I can think of, as I know nothing about programming.
posted by All.star at 4:54 PM on November 10, 2008


My husband writes software and was job hunting earlier this year, and one company that turned up more than once was this one. He did not end up working there, but he still gets a recruiter-nudge about them occasionally.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:07 PM on November 10, 2008


You could work at Blackbaud. "In a nutshell, we provide technology solutions to nonprofits. It’s a great market to work in, and our customers serve as a constant source of inspiration."
posted by scission at 5:18 PM on November 10, 2008


Upon rereading your question, I don't think Blackbaud is the kind of job you're looking for, since you'll be rather more removed from the actual causes. But a friend of mine who's very passionate about community service loves her job there, so hopefully it'll interest someone else reading this thread, at least.
posted by scission at 5:20 PM on November 10, 2008


Hmm, I might have considered it scission, if it weren't in South Carolina. I should have mentioned that I'm in Chicago, and so I prefer something that's around here or that's largely telecommuting.
posted by ignignokt at 5:26 PM on November 10, 2008


npo.net is a Chicago area job board for non-profits. There are usually a few technology positions in there.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:46 PM on November 10, 2008


idealist.org is a great resource for stuff like this.
posted by Roach at 6:06 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, my brother who is a Database guy is applying to www.change.gov. Who knows what they are looking for or how likely he is to get it, but it's worth a shot. And keep in mind, these are POLITCAL appointments not "government" jobs, so you are really working for the (newly progressive) President not in the bureaucracy (for whatever that is worth).
posted by DetonatedManiac at 6:15 PM on November 10, 2008


I've worked at three national offices of major, progressive non-profits. At all three, the the real programming work was farmed out to vendors. Or more specifically, the areas the would need programming- website, databases, etc, are managed by vendors. Blackbaud (mentioned by scission), Team Approach, P!N, Convio, Kintera, PIDI... they created and customized the product, and then super users at the non-profit managed content, querying, data uploads and downloads, but did little or no actually programming. I'm not saying that those roles aren't out there, but I don't think they are common across the non-profit world.
posted by kimdog at 7:06 PM on November 10, 2008




I just realized you are in Evanston. Even though Chicago is a bigger city, I think you will find a lot more non-profit/progressive technology job opportunities in DC than here.
posted by puffin at 7:36 PM on November 10, 2008


Seconding Blue State Digital, it's the platform that BarackObama.com and Change.gov run on.
posted by awesomebrad at 8:28 PM on November 10, 2008


Metafilter mail me - I know of some opportunities that could be right up your alley. This is a great, rapidly growing field in progressive politics.
posted by lunasol at 8:31 PM on November 10, 2008


Seconding idealist. There may also be relevant listing on the New Organizing Institute's jobs mailing list. Take a look at who's involved with NetSquared and NTEN.

Once you find and apply for some jobs in this sector, I'd love to hear about your experiences. I'll may be looking for similar work within the next year.
posted by PueExMachina at 9:28 PM on November 10, 2008


I interviewed with a company called Acumen LLC that you might want to look into.
posted by crinklebat at 10:05 PM on November 11, 2008


So far the only solid lead I've gotten was a result of posting my resume to the NOI list that PueExMachine mentioned. However, idealist.org does have a lot of potential, too, and isn't too terrible to search.

Here's a few other resources I've come across:

http://www.transparencyjobs.com/jobs/

http://www.progressiveexchange.org/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=1

http://authenticjobs.com/

http://groups.google.com/group/jobsthatareleft?hl=en
posted by ignignokt at 3:25 PM on November 18, 2008


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