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Editor's Blog

Work for Free for the Guy Who Just Laid You Off?

Sound crazy? That’s just what Brooke Allen suggests in this week’s lead story, Perspective: Keep Working (Even if You Don’t Get Paid). And I think he makes his case.

I admit it; for the blog headline above, I chose the most provocative point in a very compelling article. Read the whole thing and give us your feedback. Please. Send Brooke an email — or, better yet, leave a comment below.

2 comments on “Work for Free for the Guy Who Just Laid You Off?”

  1. Jim,
    I guess I’m going to have to jump in here and defend myself right off the bat!
    Of course, I don’t think it is always a good idea to work for the guy who laid you off.
    One job candidate told me how he would NEVER recommend ANYONE work for his prior employer because they were truly evil people on an evil mission. I wanted to know why he hadn’t quit years ago – if he worked for me, and I took an evil turn, he would have a moral obligation to report me; to regulators if need be. He was stunned, but I think I had a good question.
    The idea that there is always work to be done (whether there is money in a budget or not) has been a very powerful one for me (and it came to me late – I was 30 when someone told me). Almost every positive turn in my life has come during hard times.
    Recently, some friends and I started: as a completely non-commercial venture to promote alternative thinking about working and learning. Content and comments are coming at a rapid clip.
    We just put up a post by a Stanford professor on how to get work in his lab. I think it should be of particular interest.
    I look forward to lively discussion both here and there.

  2. Brooke Allen says:

    Here is a story of interest from our blog at No Shortage Of Work
    (Or anywhere else, for that matter.)
    NSoW recently caught up with Ken Caldeira at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a climate scientist working at Carnegie Institution’s Dept. of Global Ecology on the Stanford University campus. He is also a Professor (by courtesy) at Stanford University’s Dept. of Environmental Earth System Science.”
    We asked him: What is the best way to get a job in a lab? This is what he wrote:
    My experience is that people come in and want to start at the top. They typically come and say “I have these great skills that I want to apply to your research.” Then they get offended when you say that you don’t think you can maximize your marginal return on investment by paying them to do the thing that they were trained to do.
    Instead people should come in and listen to what we do and try to figure out what we need that would make our work become more efficient and productive and then offer to do that thing (or those things).
    If people are local, they should ask if they can join us for lunch on “nothing special, just ordinary lunch” days. They should come to seminars, ask if they can sit in on group meetings. If you hear some little thing that you would be able to help on, say “Oh, I can do that.” At first, make it something small. Do it fast and well.
    Start out by being helpful. Let people discover your skills and abilities. Look for
    Read the Entire Story

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