Nov 08 2009

The job hunt begins, and I’m offering a cash bounty

Greeting, friends.

Eleven months ago, I left Florida to come to Chicago and work my way through Northwestern’s Master’s of Journalism program.  Since then, I have been gainfully unemployed, focusing all my attention on my studies.

This year-long project has been a success thus far.  I’m now in my fourth quarter, and the end is in sight.  Medill has allowed me to build up a host of skills that I hadn’t yet fully developed, and on balance, I consider it to have been an extremely successful endeavor.

But as I reach the end of the program, I’m confronted with the reality that I’m now headed back into the job market, at a time when jobs seem to be particularly hard to come by.

Thus, I’ve decided to adapt a technique from the open-source software community, and to apply it to my job hunt.  It’s become common among groups that deal in open-source software to offer a cash reward to anyone that can code a particularly useful new feature, or quash some persistent bug.  (Interested in bounties in the open source world? Check out this, this, or this.) So, I’ve decided it would be an intriguing experiment to see if the same technique could be useful in finding my next gig.

I’m offering a $250 cash bounty to the person or persons who can provide me with a tip, lead, or introduction that leads to my next full-time job.

Why am I doing this?  Because I am convinced that the best jobs are not the ones you go and find, but rather the ones that find you. I’m interested in finding out just how useful it is to leverage social networks and personal connections in job hunting, or whether I’m better off going through want-ads and online job sites.  And I want to reward the folks who try to help me do well in life.  After all, it’s only fair, right?

So what kind of job am I looking for?

In short, I’m not sure.  There are lots of things I’m qualified to do, and I have an interesting skill set, combining a variety of expertise which often are not found together.  This makes me uniquely qualified for some kinds of positions which are generally very difficult to recruit for.

First of all, I have more than a decade of experience working with computers in a variety of contexts.  I’ve been a system administrator, a break/fix guy, a programmer and web developer.  I’m comfortable with a wide variety of platforms and technologies, from the executive level down to nuts-and-bolts of  implementation and support.

I’m proficient with a wide variety of media creation applications and production processes, including print, online, audio, video and interactive media.  I have been trained as a journalist at one of the most prestigious J-schools in the United States.  I understand newsroom dynamics and producing content on deadline.  I have good news judgement, and I know how to cultivate sources and story ideas.  My written work has been published in a variety of outlets.

I have excellent communication and problem solving skills.  I have a history of finding creative solutions to complicated problems.  I can translate complex technical information in to everyday language.  I can take creative ideas and translate them into technical specifications.  I’m a good multi-tasker, and can balance several projects simultaneously.

I have worked deeply with new media and social media, and I understand how to leverage new platforms to build audiences and maintain relationships.  I have experience with stuff like online advertising (both from a technical and business point of view), search engine optimization, and the semantic web.

Some possible jobs I’m qualified for:

  • Web Editor
  • Information Technology Manager
  • Content Specialist
  • Science/Technology Reporter
  • User Interface Specialist
  • Web designer/programmer
  • Project manager

This is only a partial list.  Frankly, (and hopefully without sounding too self-aggrandizing) I’m a pretty smart fellow, and I know how to make myself useful in a wide variety of roles.  I’m used to wearing many hats.  I’m flexible, responsive and I bring a good deal of value to my employer.

Here’s my current resume. Of course, I am happy to provide published clips, as well as professional and personal references upon request.

My Job Selection Logic:

  • Really interesting/innovative jobs get first priority in my search, no matter where they may be.
  • Jobs in the Chicagoland area get consideration over jobs that would require relocation.  However, relocation is not off the table for the right opportunity.
  • I’m not averse to traveling as part of my next job, and, in fact, I enjoy a little business travel from time to time.
  • Media-related jobs get consideration over technical-only jobs.
  • Full-time jobs get priority over contract positions.

The Rules:

  • I will pay $250 USD, via cash, check or Paypal to the individual that can provide me with a tip, introduction, or lead that translates into my next full-time job.
  • The bounty is payable upon my first day of employment.
  • Employment at this job must begin between December 14, 2009 and January 11, 2010.
  • Tips must be submitted via email. Send the email to: jobtip@ianmonroe.com.  If more than one person submits the same winning job tip, the winner of the bounty will be determined by timestamp on the email.
  • Professional recruiters may not win the bounty (but don’t let that stop you from getting in touch about potentially interesting positions).

So, do you know of a job for which I might be qualified?  Don’t hesitate — email me today and let me know.

Finally, even if you don’t have a tip that is immediately relevant, please consider that you might know someone who does.  So feel free to pass this offer along to anyone you think might be able to point me in the right direction.

PS – I will update this post with the results of the experiment as they become known.

UPDATE (11/19/2009):

World-renowned DJ and producer Q-Burns Abstract Message has decided to try out the job bounty idea as well.  He’s offering a 10% cut of his fee for anyone that can provide tips or contacts which end up turning into a live show.  Read the post about his variant here. Also, he’s posted some sweet DJ sets to provide a sample for the uninitiated.  Know a club or promoter that might be interested?  You should get in touch with him.


Oct 26 2009

Whoa, has it been nearly a month?

Once again, it looks like I’ve been neglecting the occasional update for you lovely folks.  Let me give you the quick rundown of what’s going on.

I’m knee-deep and wading through this obituaries project.  The interactive innovation project at Medill this quarter is about obituaries, online and off.  That’s eating up a metric ton of time, and is requiring a fair amount of work.  If you’d like to see what we’re up to, please feel free to visit the Obit Research blog that we’ve been keeping.  Feel free to comment there, too, if you like.  I’m sure that I’m going to have more to report as the project reaches it’s completion.

Halloween is coming up!  Horror movies all over the place!  Zombies, conventions, more movies than I can see, like whoa!  I wish I had more free time for seeing films this month.

I’ll be paying a brief weekend trip to Washington, D.C. in a couple of weeks.  Expect pictures.

The job search starts VERY SOON NOW.  I have a special post planned on this subject.  I expect to have it up on Nov. 1, which I’m naming as the first day of my OFFICIAL job search efforts.

Thanks for sticking with me.  I’ll try to get the updates more frequent. (yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it before. )

Sep 22 2009

It’s now Autumn, and quarter 4 of grad school

So today was my first day of my last quarter of studies at Northwestern.

It seems that I’m going to be thinking intimately about obituaries for the next ten to twelve weeks.

It also is creeping up on time for me to start looking for work.  Can’t support this lifestyle with no income, so it’s going to be job-getting time here in the near future.

I’ll be posting an updated resume and clips on the site in the very near future.  If you know of a media organization that could benefit from my skill set, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  Email ian at ianmonroe.com.

Thank you!

May 18 2009

Nano-writing technique leaves a very small impression

[video src="http://www.ianmonroe.com/flash_video/NANOFAB.flv" width="400" height="300" ]

In April, scientists from Northwestern University published a new technique for drawing nano-scale structures on a surface, using an atomic force microscope.  In this video, the authors of the paper demonstrate and explain the technique and some of it’s potential applications.

 

| Open Player in New Window

Note: This story was first published on the Medill Reports website, on 5/14/2009.  It’s re-published here for my own archives.

Apr 07 2009

Skull wall

Photographed out side the MTC, and lightly photoshopped for effect.

Photographed outside the MTC, and lightly photoshopped for effect.

Mar 31 2009

New quarter, new beat

Starting today until the beginning of June, I’m working on Health/Science reporting.

My beat is Technology/Gadgets/Nanotech. If you should happen to have any good tips on these subjects, please please contact me and clue me in (ian at ianmonroe.com). I finally have a beat that I can write about with some kind of clarity, so I’m looking to make it as interesting as possible.

Thanks in advance!

Mar 06 2009

Lawrence Lessig at the Kellogg School of Management

lessiglectureYesterday, Lawrence Lessig spoke at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. Lessig is like the Elvis Presley of the nerd universe; a rock star of the highest order.

I don’t need to run down his resume… if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard of Lessig before.  You probably know that we have him (and others) to thank for the sanity of Creative Commons licensing.  Creative Commons has greatly contributed to the explosion of remix culture that’s become so emblematic of the early 21st Century.

While best known for his work on intellectual property law, Lessig said he’d changed his focus over the last year and a half to focus on the problem of corruption in public institutions like governments.  Valuable work.

What did he have to say?

  • When money gets involved, trust is damaged. Consider Consumer Reports, for instance.  Most people find their product reviews more objective, more trustworthy, because they don’t accept advertising money.
  • Government suffers from a crisis in trustworthiness because of the degree that money influences elections. Let’s face it; the guy with the biggest bankroll pretty much always win.  Consequently, we’re ruled by rich, white, plutocrats.
  • The way out of this trap is to dramatically overhaul the way that elections are funded. Lessig said that possibly the only way to do this thouroughly and transparently was to take corporate donations and lobbyists out of the equation by mandating that elections be funded either by small donations from individuals (ala President Obama) and a system of public funding by using tax dollars to finance credible campaigns.

He pointed the audience to change-congress.org, and recommended that we all go “on strike” by refusing to donate to any political campaign that accepts corporate donations or money from lobbyists.

He’s a smart guy — I really hope that he can make a difference on this issue, but honestly, the pragmatist in me isn’t hopeful.

Tangentially, he’s an absolutely excellent speaker, and his presentation was quite inspiring.  If you should happen to have a chance to see this guy talk, I definitely suggest you go out of your way for it.  It was well worth the time.

Feb 11 2009

Want to know the main problem with trying to do grad-school journalism?

Here’s the thing — journalism is transactional.  You rely on other people to feed you information that you can use to write your stories.  In exchange, your sources get to draw attention to the things that they think are important.

For instance, if you’re writing an article about a new business, you contact the business owner or spokesperson, and they talk to you, give you an interview, answer your questions, or whatever.  In return, they get to communicate their message to potential customers, they get to get the word out about their business.

Or how about if you’re interviewing a politician?  Well, again, they provide the journalist with information, and in return, they get to have their viewpoints publicized.

Perhaps you’re doing an article about health food, so you contact health experts for opinions.  In exchange for their opinions, they get their names in print, which helps to build their reputations as experts in their field.

But if you are a student, working on, oh, I don’t know, a graduate degree, for instance, and your work is only being distributed internally, or on a private website, then the transaction breaks down.  The source feeds you information, and they get nothing in return, because nobody (or only a small number of people) reads the finished reporting.

So there’s no incentive for anybody to talk to you, unless they are motivated solely by listening to themselves speak.

When I was working for the Orlando Weekly, I could simply disclose my affiliation with the newspaper, and whoever I was talking to would take me seriously enough to answer my questions.  But now that the only place that my writing is showing up is on a private website, nobody can be bothered to return my phone calls or provide me with any kind of useful information at all.  Particularly since my beat is business, where everyone is busy trying to make money, and I have nothing to offer them in the transaction of journalism.

Frankly, it’s pretty much bullshit.  Maybe I should just call myself a freelance journalist.  That would get me more respect.

Feb 05 2009

I start beat reporting next week

The Bridgeport RestaurantI’ve just finished up the first half of the first quarter of my year at grad school.

That means that next week, I begin beat reporting in on the South Side of Chicago, specifically in the Bridgeport neighborhood.

My beat is business, so if you happen to have any tips about business happenings in Bridgeport (or Pilsen, or Chinatown) help a brother out and drop me an email — ian@ianmonroe.com.

Thanks.  I’ll post my better articles on the blog here, so you can critique my work publicly.