JOB: Looking for Two Programmers

NOTE: All of the information in this post is to be considered unofficial and informal in nature. Be sure to read the actual postings carefully and apply through the proper channels.

I’m building a Python-centric, Plone-adjacent, web application development team. To that end, I’ve been given two mid-tier Applications Analyst positions to fill. These have been opened, posted, and we are actively taking applications.

This is a “ground up” development team; we have some pre-existing Plone infrastructure and applications we want to integrate, but there’s opportunity for development with different web frameworks if they will meet our requirements more completely than Plone can (but we will still be running Plone for general web sites and will want to try to integrate as much as we can).

The infrastructure is being established right now (by Yours Truly), and is being designed to be highly available and low maintenance. It will be under the full control of the team.

My focus is on finding people who really enjoy application development, have strong communications and organizational skills, like working in a highly productive team environment, and don’t mind getting their hands dirty when it comes to hardware.

Another primary function of the team will be to produce publications. It will require us to be especially diligent in documenting everything we do. It also allows us to choose solutions with innovation in mind. This is a great opportunity to get very public recognition for your work, and forge new territory.

These positions are for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and will be administered through the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

You can view the postings and apply for the positions on the UNC HR website:

If you’d like to apply for either of these positions, please use the “Apply for this position” link at the bottom of the page.

I’d be happy to answer any questions (in an unofficial manner) via e-mail at josh underscore johnson at unc dot edu.

Read on for more info about the jobs, working at UNC, and living in this part of North Carolina :)

About the jobs

These are permanent, full-time, mid-level positions. The primary focus will be on application development and publication, with secondary emphasis on user support/training, maintaining and scaling the hardware infrastructure, and keeping on top of innovations in software development, hardware management concepts, and data management techniques.

We’ll be building applications to assist with a few different facets of research, that, to over simplify, represent some form of pathology. This means dealing with the marshaling, processing, and analyzing of data collected from specimens of varying origin.

It’s essentially bioinformatics work, but there will be some specialization in areas like in silico experimentation (developing experiments that occur entirely within a computer system), image analysis, inventory management, financial tracking (purchasing), business process automation, animal colony management, and systems integration (much of the equipment used has some sort of API that can be tapped into).

For project management, we will be imploring a variant of the SCRUM development methodology. I want to see the team actively cultivate a highly productive methodology that works best for us (as opposed to just adopting something whole-hog).

The goal is short, productive development cycles that focus on functionality.

We will be forging new ground with much of our work, so research and preliminary development practices (prototyping, testing, evaluation) will be essential.

As I mentioned earlier, publication is a primary focus. Everything that we do is novel given the current state of tools used for this type of research. We want to be able to collaborate with other departments, other universities, and generate publications that showcase what we’re doing to the entire world.

Documentation is always important, but in the case of this team, we must be especially careful to explain and document what we do in not only a highly technical way (e.g. inline documentation, API references, user manuals), but also in a less technical, more narrative way. Something that can be adapted easily to various scientific and industry journal formats, and conveyed to investigators and department personnel that may not have a firm understanding of the technology we’re using.

The hardware infrastructure is virtual machine based, with a large AoE SAN. We will not have a dedicated systems administrator, so we must participate in the ongoing maintenance and development of the hardware infrastructure as a group. The work plan for the positions require 20% of each analyst’s time to be available for hardware tasks. My hope is that the actual amount of needed time will be much less, and I am designing the infrastructure so that it will require as little maintenance as possible. There’s a focus on high availability, so we don’t have to address problems right away.

On a work-culture level, the work environment will be very nurturing to a highly productive team. We will have our own work space free from most distractions (but not far from the labs we support or our hosting facilities), flexible work hours and location. Retreats, field trips, and other “lets get out of the office and think” activities are all part of our job.

We’re located right in the middle of the UNC medical campus, not far from many food options, cafes, and beautiful landscapes with free wi-fi :)

We’ll have a faithful simulation of our production environment for testing and development, will employ a VCS system (Mercurial at present) and some sort of issue tracking.

We’ll participate in community efforts (conferences, sprints, local user group activities) as much as possible.

Working at UNC

UNC is a state university. UNC itself provides many great benefits to its employees, and the state provides even more. We get generous leave accruals, retirement fund (pension as well as 401k), very good medical benefits, longevity pay, early retirement options, flexible spending account, tuition reimbursement, employee discounts and more.

More information (and real details) can be found on the UNC HR website

I’ve worked for the university for 6 years and it’s been great.

Living in the Triangle

If you’re not from around here, UNC-CH is located in what’s known as the “Triangle” of North Carolina, which consists of three major metropolitan areas, Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. It’s a great place to live and work.

There’s a wide range of places to live depending on your taste; everything from highly urban downtown areas to country farmland to suburban neighborhoods. Chapel Hill itself is sort of a combination of the three. Nearly any town in the Triangle area is about a 30 minute drive from UNC-CH.

Beyond UNC, the Triangle is host to a lot of technology companies (IBM, SAS, Red Hat), as well as a few other major universities (Duke, NCSU), and biotech companies (GlaxoSmithKline, RTI). (see for more)

Chapel Hill itself, where I live now, is great. It’s a somewhat small town, but because of the university it’s been built up quite substantially (yet it’s just minutes from the country). There are many, many trees :)

We have a free public transit system, and a wide variety of things to do, both cultural and culinary in nature. And if Chapel Hill doesn’t have it, chances are Durham or Raleigh will.

The Triangle is also the home of one of the best user groups ever, the Triangle Zope/Python User Group, better known as TriZPUG. It provides a multitude of opportunities to network with other Pythonistas doing very similar types of work.

We’ve also got the TriLUG, the Triangle Linux User Group, which has also been a great networking resource.

This part of North Carolina is sort of moderate when it comes to weather. Prior to moving here I lived in Florida and New England, and I feel like the Triangle is sort of right in the middle between the two. We’ve got oceans and mountains about three hours in either direction, it gets warm in the summer and cool in the winter but never too hot or too cold for too long. We’re far enough from the coast to avoid most hurricanes or nor-easters (although we are susceptible to gulf coast weather), far enough away from the mountains to avoid most flash flooding; we get some snow some times, leaves change in the fall, and there’s a lot of outdoorsy activities all around.

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One Response to JOB: Looking for Two Programmers

  1. Pingback: JOB: Python/Plone Developer « jjmojojjmojo: In Effect

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