How to change your life and join the movement

Feeling moved by the moment? You have options.

This is Yenta, a newsletter that matches my friends to jobs/ideas/dates/each other. If you’re currently searching or open to a job please let me know by filling out this form. If you’re looking for romance/dates, please let me know by filling out this other form. Hiring? Just reply to this email. Lastly, we have a place for people to directly swap jobs/housing/projects etc. You can always find it at https://sahar.io/yentathread. Okay, that’s all the logistics. Now onto our main event:


Hi friends.

It's an intense time right now. History is happening all around us. For me, I've feeling the terror of watching the police state take a step closer to being born, and also the hope of seeing political attitudes change quickly over time.

In this newsletter, I'm going to humbly give some of my opinion and advice on different ways for you to get a job in social movement organizations. Then a special interlude for tech work. Some specific jobs. Then some discussion of play, and intimacy in the pandemic.

ALSO: Why not work with me? That’s right! I have a job. We are hiring. Read on for more.

While this issue is mostly focusing on jobs, this newsletter is also about linking people to romance, friendship, projects, etc. Expect more of that in future issues.

As a note: remember that the greatest place for job/housing/project swapping is the Yenta Thread that I have on Facebook. Please post your asks there.

Another note: It's hard to keep track of all my romantically or employably available friends, and what they're looking for / good at / etc. So if you're looking to do a new job, or project, etc, please fill out this form. If you're looking for love/romance/bodies, please fill out this form.

And now, let's dive in!

You don't need to quit your job to work for the movement.

I don't believe that your job determines your politics. You don't need to have a job working for a certain special nonprofit organization to be part of a movement. A thing that determines membership due to employment isn't a movement -- it's an industry.

We need passionate, capable people to be committed *leaders* of membership driven organizations. It's important for all of us to show up, consistently, over time, with a local group building power. And the consistency is much more important than choosing the "right" one.

If "doing massive good for the world" only happened by people who were paid to do it, that means that we'd only win when, what? Over half the country worked for tax-deductible charity organizations? That's unworkable.

How to rise to the moment (not via employment):

A little while ago, I asked on Facebook:

Let's say a friend came up to you and said: "I'm fired up about the moment. I want to donate money. Where do I put it?"

What would you tell them? And why?

The responses were fascinating, and covered quite a range of ideas and organizations.

Here was my take:

  • *Where* you donate matters less than that you make it a recurring *monthly* donation.

  • Donations are nice. Dues-paying membership is better.

  • Join a group for which you can have an ongoing relationship. Donate monthly dues that you have some democratic control over where they are disbursed.

  • Show up monthly to a local organization. Again, *which* matters less than that you are consistently showing up.

This was about convincing people that there are other, arguably more effective models of making social change than targeted, large, one-off donations. The logic holds up, I think, when applied to advising someone thinking of making drastic career moves: both donations and membership are helpful too.

If you have the desire and capacity to switch jobs into The Movement, that’s great! I’m enthusiastic, supportive, and would love to help. But that’s not the only way to do big things.

Member-driven organizations that wield power locally are so important! And they’re often starving for driven, nice, non-flaky, members. And, often, money. Find them, be useful, be consistent. That, by itself, would be big.

If I were advising myself about groups to check out, I'd suggest a range of organizations that feel meaningful to me. But they're tied to things like: being jewish, or being in boston, or knowing people who have run these organizations. So a thing that feels perfectly attractive to me, might be less attractive to others.

That said, here are picks that resonate for me:

  • Color of Change: They're trying to become the new mainstream, and that's great. Not trying to be the most radical, but if they successfully redefine "moderate" to be what they're advocating for (what was perhaps considered radical 10 years ago), then the whole ecosystem takes a big step to the left.

  • Bail Funds: Especially as the police unjustly imprison people, this is a way to free them. And, on the appointed date, the money rolls over and can be used for another person! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Bend the Arc: As a jew, I believe in doing my organizing *jewishly*. And Bend the Arc is a great way to do good anti-white supremacy work while keeping it grounded and accountable to me and my community

  • Working Families Party: Long-term power building.

  • Ujima: Local, Boston, radical, but also thinking about money, power, and shifting resources

  • Movement Voter Project: Strategic! Timely! Power building. Electoral / advocacy / legislative.

But again, I think the *choice* is a bit of a red herring. Showing up, consistently, over time, with both effort and money, is much more important.

All that being said, I am aware of quite a few fascinating roles to work for social justice (or adjacent) causes directly. It turns out that, this time, quite a few of them are for people with tech skills. But not all of them!

Note also -- for a few different reasons, I'm going to conflate "social justice" with "progressive" and even "aligned with Democrats". I realize that those are different terms, etc. And in a time where we are fighting police brutality, in a moment kicked off by the killing of a black man, talking about jobs in, say, Democratic politics doesn't quite line up. There's a larger conversation to be had about that. For now, I can only give you suggestions and tips that are informed by my experiences and network. And they are with more of the broad spectrum of left organizations than the specific slice dealing with policing, prison abolition, racial justice police brutality, etc. I do believe that working for left-aligned organizations makes the world a better place, though some organizations have different theories of change than others.

How to find a job that matches your values

Let's say that you decide you want to leave your corporate job and go Do Good Things With Your Time. Great! Our jobs are usually over 50% of our waking life -- doing something you believe in can be really nice.

So, how do you go about that?

Here are some resources:

Conceptually, what you are trying to do here could be described as a career switch to a whole new industry. This industry has a lot of different subgroups: a local racial justice group might have little day-to-day similarity to or interaction with anonline-first campaigning organization, or to a massive name-brand NGO. That's real. At the same time, these groups exist in an industry that's different than "the corporate world", or the "government world". There is history, best practices, culture, etc, that might be new and different to you.

And, crucially, "the progressive industry", while intertwined with social movement organizations, is its own thing. There are office politics, and bad bosses. There are weird (un)ethical practices, and culture that might confuse or alarm you. Your personal poltiical activity will always be fair game to link to your employer, which can constrain your freedom of action. It’s not a utopia, by any means.

The progressive industry is also a place to do big, meaningful work, in a decisive and strategic way. There is professionalism, and coworkers that won't flake in the way that a neighbor-volunteer will. Working for a mission-aligned organization can be really healthy and good for the soul. It's different and refreshing.

So! What does this mean for you?

  • While there are exceptions, don't think you can jump in and immediately apply your prior experience to this new role. Be a bit humble.

  • You *might* have to take a more entry-level position than you wanted. Sometimes, but not always, that's for good reason.

  • Don't be afraid to treat job conversations as negotiations. You still will have a boss. You still likely need to put boundaries on your work and stand up for yourself.

  • Once you get in, don't be afraid to unionize!

  • Treat this with the professionalism, and care, (informational interviews, network-building, etc) that you'd make for other big job switches.

I hope I didn't scare you off! Working in mission-driven organizations can be wonderful, and good for the soul. And all the above, of course, is just one man's opinion.

Okay! On to some tech-specific stuff

How to find a job that matches your values -- if you have tech-adjacent skills

The world of "people who are good at computers who worked for a certain type of campaigning / electoral / advocacy groups" is rather small. So I hear a lot from people in that world.

Here are some tips:

  • There's a sensitivity to people coming in from outside and just "assuming a savior mentality", thinking that they are better at coding than everyone who was there already, etc. So be aware of that!

  • You can get paid to do really interesting, fun work! Your skills will be in demand. This is really cool!

  • At the same, the culture of hiring in the progressive industry is not the same as the culture of hiring in tech. Recruiters might be less solicitious of you. People might not get back to you for a while. It can be frustrating if you’re used to different professional defaults.

Here are some resources:

Don't want to quit your job, but want to volunteer in high-leverage ways? There are a few organizations set up just for you:

Work with me:

Surprise! I have a job now! And we are hiring. Work with me!

I really wanted to take a long vacation this summer, but something amazing came up. Namely — a way I could help change the outcome of the next election. I joined a political organization that does a bunch of interesting data work, a/b testing, polling, and so on to help progressive groups be more strategic and efficient. I love it, and it feels good both to get a bunch of inside track on what’s happening, and work on stuff that feels important — we have to win!

We are hiring ML engineers, software engineers of any stripes, or especially devops or data engineers. I’d love love love to work with a friend on this project. Hit me up directly to learn more.

Jobs from our friends:

Here are job listings from actual friends: people I know and can vouch for. Many of these are “jobs in the movement”, but not all. If you're interested in any of these, feel free to contact them directly, or ask me for an introduction.

Ted Suzman is hiring engineers to build tools for democracy. In his own words:

Hi friends, Ted here. I've been leading product/engineering at Empower, and we're looking for senior generalist engineers to join the fight for democracy and sound leadership in the US!

Empower has been completely taking off in usage, and it's looking like it may end up powering a majority of the soft-side field operations in the nation. It's a non-profit tool that helps people talk to their friends and family in a way that brings about more civic engagement and voting in battleground states. There are several independently-run random controlled trials of the project showing that the approach works really well for actually getting people to vote.

We're quite shorthanded in comparison to the opportunity in front of us, so joining is an incredibly high-leverage thing to do. We pay quite well despite being a non-profit (150-200k/yr). We have both shorter term (through the election) and permanent positions available. More information here!: https://getempower.com/eng Here’s my email: ted@getempower.com

Matthew Maroney is hiring for his startup, Raise Green.

Hey everyone! I'm the cofounder of Raise Green, a marketplace for local impact investing. We issue securities for clean energy and climate solution projects that provide essential services to communities. Think of us like a kickstarter for local energy projects (like solar panels), but people get ownership and autonomy in local economic development. There's other stuff about our model too, like how we found a way to get rid of tons of legal, financing, and accounting costs for these projects (creating knowledge equity for things that were previously closely held secrets by large financial institutions and law firms).

We also offer $2k 0% interest loans to BIPOC/Woman created projects. Raise Green is supporting local leaders and investing in creating, funding, building, and running their own infrastructure.

We're hiring two roles: a full-time paid virtual assistant (bizdev, strategic research, proj management) and a full-time backend software engineer (psql, go, graphql, js). We offer decent salaries, great equity, thriving culture, and I truly believe that this is a great way to change the structure of funding for clean energy - and other types of community infrastructure like CSAs, affordable housing, and water recycling projects.

Alex Melman is hiring a designer for the Movement Voter Project.

MVP does important work that grows and helps fund an ecosystem of hundreds of local progressive groups across the country. We have a bunch of pages on our site that need design refreshes and new ones that need to be designed (especially pages explaining our overall 2020 plan and our state-specific plans). Plus, we have other campaigns and organizations that we support, and they also have web design needs. We are looking for a skilled freelance designer (ideally one who can work in Sketch) to help translate our existing slide presentations, PDFs, and new ideas into designs for responsive web content.

Julie Menter is leaving New Media Ventures, and looking to hire a replacement as the Head of Investments(!) In her words:

I am moving to France (where I grew up) this summer! This means I'm leaving New Media Ventures after an amazing 5.5 years. I am SO proud of how our team and our work have grown. In this year's Open Call, 1100+ startups sent in pitches. They give me hope that this crisis may be the catalyst for the big changes we need in our society. Which brings me to the exciting part - we've started the search for my replacement. It's the BEST JOB EVER! High impact, great team, lots of learning. This job has it all.

Please share widely: https://bit.ly/NMV_HOI Application deadline is June 29.

Etta King is hiring a director for a school!

I'm looking for a native Spanish speaker with early education experience to serve as the school director at one of my schools in Ann Arbor, MI

Also looking for reliable volunteers who can commit to 5 hours a week for 6-8 weeks helping with grant research, fundraising thank yous, and social media account management. They can email me at etta@appleplayschools.org. We log hours through the Catchafire.org volunteer platform for appropriate projects which is a great way to track impact.

Yoni Landau is looking for an automation wizard:

Resistance Labs runs texting for both establishment and movement efforts, from senior Democratic Congressional leadership to organizations like Black Voters Matter. We're looking for our automation wizard to help with process design, automation, and analysis. The work will be on an SMS War Room to rapidly test (including randomized control trials) dozens (hundreds?) of text messages that could move voters away from Trump. Then we'll send those texts to tens of millions. Desired skills: Competence with data management (SQL, AWS) and visualization and experience with "buy" automation tools (Zapier and CRM management) as well as political experience.

Time and compensation are flexible, no fewer than 30 hours a week. Email yoni@resistancelabs.com with resume and short note with your availability and plans. We are hiring ASAP for this.

Geronimo’s company is hiring for a bunch of roles:

Hey y'all, my company Nava PBC is hiring for bunch of roles for remote and also in our offices in SF, NYC, and Washington DC. We're on a mission to build mission-critical software to make government social services more simple, accessible, and effective for vulnerable populations. We currently work on contracts like: Paid Medical Family Leave for Massachusetts, Center of Medicare and Medicaid services, California Unemployment Services, Vermont Integrated Benefits, and more!

If you want to combine your passions in tech, human-centered design, and government while working in a n incredibly diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment -- check out out listings here https://www.navapbc.com/careers/ and reach out to me if you're interested in discussing a referral or for any questions

(Remember — want to reach out to any of these people? Let me know and I’ll put you in touch)

Jobs from around:

These jobs are interesting, and controlled by friends-of-friends. (Or by friends, but without the friendly blurb that jobs above have). No promises, but let me know if you're interested, and I'll see if I can introduce you to an intermediary:

Causten Rodriguez-Wollerman is hiring a campaign strategist for the national ACLU.

Karin is hiring multiple roles for PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States.

James points out that New Hampshire Youth Movement is hiring an Organizing Director. (NHYM is a dope multi-issue organizing project that is the NH affiliate of Sunrise Generation)

Ari Fertig points out that the Congregation Kahal B’raira is hiring managing director (around boston).

I'm in touch with a recruiter from US Digital Service. (The people who make websites etc for the federal government). Let me know if that’s intruiging to you.

Via James Cersonsky again, The PA Debt Collective is hiring a temporary community organizer.

Projects, shoutouts, etc:

My sister Talie is doing psych research, and is looking for user testers.

I'm looking for some people to help with a user test for an app we're building as a basis for a new research project on emotion sharing and mood tracking. Basically, we're looking for people to join a discord server, post in it at least once a day/interact for about a week, and then let us know how they felt about the experience.

It's not paid or anything because I'm a poor grad student, but I'll tell you about the project if you want! Email me at talie_massachi@brown.edu (or message me directly on FB) if you're willing! thanks!

Lonnie Affirme is founding a new think tank and is looking for marketing help:

I'm the co-founder of the Democratic Policy Center. We're a non-profit aiming to be a war room/think tank for progressives, and if anyone has any expertise they'd be willing to share, we could use help in many different areas (particularly digital marketing and video production). If you want to get money out of politics and push Congress left using careful strategy and targeted campaigns, then please consider joining us! https://www.dempolicy.com/join

Playtime is fun

A few of us have a chat thread where we periodically round up people to play board games (hanabi, dominion, and more). Want to play games with us? Hit me up.

Dating.

Some really interesting, attractive, eligible people have signed up so far. Soon, we will have enough people to start matching in earnest. So if you were shy before — now is the time to dive in and tell me that you’re looking for love/romance/flings/hotties.

Question for you non-coupled people: how are you dealing with intimacy, closeness, and dating in a pandemic? I imagine it’s difficult. I’d love to hear more about your experiences.

Miscellaneous News:

George Berry has written How to vote, a strategic guide. It’s quite good! If you ever had questions that you wished you could ask in civics class, this might be for you. Here’s how it starts:

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends about voting. I decided to write a short how-to-vote guide in response. I’ll go through four things:

  1. Understanding the American democratic system

  2. Understanding the process of voting

  3. How to think strategically about voting

  4. Expectations about what your vote does

As I mentioned earlier, I accepted a job offer! I’m as surprised as you are. It’s do to a/b testing, data science, data infra, etc to help democratic-aligned groups better spend their money in the upcoming election. Given the state of the country and my skills, it feels like the best place I can be right now to do the most good.

I’m also writing a bit more at my blog. Most recently: “The System Lacks Legitimacy”

Stay enraged, stay healthy, stay kind.

With warm feelings, and feel free to contact me any time,

Sahar