I’m at a crossroads.
My scholarship runs out by the end of September (and my PhD thesis will be at least almost finished by that time), so now I’m at the point where I’ll have to decide what to do in the future.
There are plenty of jobs in the usability / user experience sector, but all which I’ve found mean working on proprietary software. However, when I compare my motivation for doing work which serves only a company and their customers with my motivation for working on Free Software which benefits potentially everyone, the differences are immense!
When doing work on proprietary software, I do what I’m asked for and I apply high quality standards (I’m still German, after all πŸ˜‰ ), but when I work on Free Software, I’m really excited and feel that I’m contributing to something bigger, which feels so much better!
Therefore, I’m not really eager to take on a job where I work on proprietary software, only being able to spend my spare time on what I really care about.
So I thought to myself “Hey, I have that blog which is read by a few hundred Free Software enthusiasts, maybe some of them know someone who might make my dream of working full-time (or at least part-time) on Free Software come true?
That’s why I’m asking you, dear reader: Do you happen to know of any organization which might hire (full- or part-time) or contract me for work on the usability of Free Software (preferably KDE software, but other Free Software would be okay as well)?
An alternative to working on FOSS would be working in the area of Open Access / Open Science, because that’s just as important to me as FOSS. Any pointers in that direction would be appreciated as well.
Thank you in advance!
UPDATE:Β  This is why I love the Free Software world: In other contexts, people help those they know personally (or maybe others they hope will help them in return later), but in the Free Software world when I post a blog post asking for help, I even get comments from people I haven’t met before, and even people from the press like Swapnil Bhartiya share my post on Google+ to help. Thank you all guys, you show me how awesome the FOSS world is!

Comments: 18

  1. Thiago Martins says:

    Ok, so this is an almost unrelated answer but, with a PhD, you probably have already considered the academia. I say “almost” because there are more than a few FOSS projects that started and still are mostly developed in academia.
    I am writing it as someone who started in industry and made the switch to academia. While the pay *is* smaller (yeah, the elephant in the room), there’s no comparison in terms of the feel you speak of, the feel of contribute to something bigger.

    • I have considered an academic career, yes. And no, the payment isn’t what keeps me from pursuing one. What keeps me is that so far, I’ve experienced academia (outside of my institute, which is very cooperative and nice!) as much much more competitive (and not the good kind of competition that drives innovation, but the nasty, cut-throat kind) and “each one for himself!” than for example KDE.
      I’ve experienced it as a world where people try to keep everything for themselves until they can publish it in a highly-ranked journal/conference instead of sharing it for the benefit of all, so very much unlike my experience in the Free Software world.
      Apparently, your experience differs greatly from mine, so maybe we should talk about where one can find the kind of academia that mostly wants to make the world a better place!

    • prefer to hide my name as long as i'm in academia says:

      I’m still in academia and I confirm this. If you want a meaningful, FOSS-like life, then stay out of academia. There is no academia in the world which mostly wants to make the world a better place, except those who deliberately stay out of the stupid, destructive ranking system (none of these rankings measure quality, they only measure popularity). Good luck finding such a place.

    • Thanks for the tip! Univention definitely sounds like an interesting company, though they appear to be very much technology-focused to me. Don’t know if they have use for a usability person…

  2. Markus S. says:

    Apply at Red Hat, Blue Systems, KO GmbH, KDAB, and/or Kolab Systems.
    Not sure if they have job opening in that field but you can apply anyway. The worst thing that could happen is not getting job, ie. the same as not applying in the first place. So nothing to lose. πŸ˜‰

  3. Uniq says:

    Ask Kitware, they use Qt, they develop CMake, and they are talking a lot about open science. Recently they were hiring, not sure whether you match.

    • Thank you for the tip! Kitware was on my list as well, precisely because they do open source in the scientific area, so it’s where both of my passions meet. Could be that they don’t do enough user interface work to be looking for a person like me, but talking to them won’t hurt πŸ˜‰

  4. Kavalor says:

    Although SUSE is not really investing in KDE , but it still an important Linux/Open-Source Company. Might be worth a shot

    • Every time I look at SUSE’s job listing, it’s almost exclusively either for tech or business people. They don’t create all that many user interfaces, do they? Thanks for the tip anyway, maybe they are another cold-calling candidate…

  5. Laszlo Papp says:

    You should also talk to Celeste Lyn Paul and Balazs Bjorn if you had not done so.

  6. kairoat says: is for mobile, not sure if that’s for you, we at Mozilla seem to not have an opening for desktop UX right now – but feel free to browse for other openings that might fit you. Do not take the listed locations for granted, we support people working remotely for almost all jobs.

    • Thank you for the tip!
      I don’t only do desktop UX (I’ve been deeply involved in Plasma Active, for example), so this opening indeed looks interesting!
      I’ve also browsed through the other openings, and found two others which might be interesting as well. I’ll look into all three of those
      I didn’t know that a Mozillian was among my readers, nice to know!

    • I’m just glancing over the KDE Planet feed and spotted your post there πŸ™‚

    • Most readers of my blog come from Planet KDE. Glad that you found my post interesting!

  7. Hi Thomas,
    If you’re interested in tools to help scientists and researchers and are interested in UX and development, we’re looking for help at Mendeley –
    I’m afraid the desktop app is proprietary software though, with a few open-sourced components (
    As another thought, Wikimedia have some openings – . PeerJ (a new open access journal, some of my ex-colleagues work there) do as well –

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