What I Do
Hi, I’m Máirín. 🙂 I’m an interaction designer with a little open source company called Red Hat. I work full-time as the token designer for a free operating system called Fedora.
For me, it is my dream job and it is also the best job in the world. My personal passion for making free software easier to use is encouraged & celebrated, and I’m always in the company of folks much smarter than I with a never-ending supply of interesting and challenging projects to work on together. The position also comes with the satisfaction that it is, even if only in a small way at times, making the world a better place. Not only does Red Hat work to make more free software available and to make its power more accessible, saving time, money, and pain for businesses: with Red Hat’s support, for example, I’ve been involved in initiatives to teach kids how to use free software and to develop openly-licensed course materials for teachers interested in their own free software programs. It’s a position that has never been boring and through which I’ve been able to travel internationally and constantly learn and grow as a person.
Well, here’s your shot: Red Hat is looking for a talented, Linux & free software-friendly interaction designer to work with me on making Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux easier to use. So if you are an interaction designer looking for a position you can be really passionate about, love doing, and in the process make a positive difference in the world, this is a great opportunity and I really encourage you to apply for the position.
Questions & Answers
I’ve put together a little Q&A about the position since it’s essentially the same as my own; I’ll add to it as I get more questions because this is not your run-of-the-mill interaction design job:
- Where is the position located?
- The position is based in Red Hat’s main engineering headquarters in Westford, Massachusetts, USA, but finding the candidates best qualified for the position is the highest priority. Our Westford office is a beautiful new 3-story building with on-site cafeteria next door to Nashoba Valley ski mountain, and is a 40-45 minute Red Hat-provided shuttlebus trip from the Boston MBTA’s Alewife redline station.
- Do I need to already be an free / open source software community rockstar to be considered?
- No, absolutely not! If you’re not already involved in the free software community, that’s okay. We’re looking for folks who have a sincere interest in open source, though, who are willing to learn the free software tools and become visible members of our community. This means, unlike in other design positions, you’ll need to become comfortable writing about and showing off your work publicly, even if it’s not finished or is just early-stages, and you’ll likely need to make regular blog or mailing list postings on your work to keep open an active line of communication with the larger Fedora and open source community. We’re happy to get you up to speed on working with the free software community and our tools, but we can’t give you the interest and passion it will take to learn and succeed at it: you’ve got to bring that to the table. 🙂
- What software do I need to be familiar with for the position?
- A requirement of this position is that you’re able to establish yourself in the free software community and help enable and organize design participation to the community. The design tools of choice in that community are free software tools such as Inkscape, Gimp, and MyPaint, among others. For various reasons, the use of the Adobe suite of design tools tends to exclude participation and its use is discouraged. While you need not be an experienced user of the free software design tools coming in to the position, we do expect a willingness and effort towards becoming proficient in preferred free software tools.
- Do I need to use Fedora for this position, or are free software apps on top of OS X okay?
- Yes, you’ll need to use Fedora and become familiar with it in order to meet the requirements of the position.
- How technical do I need to be for this position?
- The free software community in general tends to be dominated by highly technically-sophisticated developers and users. This is a design position, however, not an engineering or development position. You will not be expected to write production-quality code or make technical decisions you are not comfortable with. You’ll need to be comfortable interfacing directly with engineers and users, however, and not be afraid to ask questions and get up to speed on any technologies related to the design work at hand.
- What kind of projects will I be working on?
- The position involves working with both the Fedora Engineering team at Red Hat as well as Red Hat’s base operating system team. Projects could involve anything from the infrastructure used to develop Fedora to the installer for both Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. I make detailed posts on a lot of the projects I work on so going through my backlog of interaction design posts might give you a pretty good picture of the types of projects you’d be working on, the kinds of deliverables produced, etc.
- What do you mean when you say it’s not a run-of-the-mill interaction design position? What makes this job unique?
- I wrote a paper for the CHI 2010 open source workshop that talks about some of the challenges and suggestions for working as a designer in the open source community: you may find it an interesting read in terms of understanding the opportunities and challenges of the role.
I’m looking forward to seeing lots of awesome design candidates for this position; please feel free to pass this page on to anyone you think may be interested. It’s a pretty unique opportunity, and the window will only be open so long…
So, what are you waiting for?