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comment by veen
veen  ·  177 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 29, 2020

Hey everyone! Haven't been here as often as I'd like lately. I don't read as much articles anymore on the web, I haven't read anything nonfiction in months because I just can't care for it so much these days. Which means I have much less to share and fewer reasons to venture here. I know it's not the sole reason for being here, far from it, but it is often the spark for me and there haven't been as many sparks as of late. Hm.

I just got great news at work; I'm gonna be starting a secondment (if that's the correct word for working for another organization for my expertise) after my holiday. Means a big step forward; I like creating/designing and doing data analysis, but if I can delegate the data legwork I won't miss it. So this new thing is the first one where I'm not touching a single line of code or data, instead being asked to work together with others and create / set up pilot projects for others to then go and do. It also enables me to yeet a bunch of projects I don't want to do anymore because I will definitely not have time to be spread thinly anymore, thank you very much. Plus the organization I'm starting at has a phenomenal network of people in the field of sustainable / innovative transportation.

goobster  ·  177 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    "...I'm gonna be starting a secondment (if that's the correct word for working for another organization for my expertise)..."

I'm not sure we have a similar concept here in the US. I remember when I lived in Europe it being common for friends to be "seconded-out" to another organization for a while, to work on a specific project, before returning to their primary employer.

I can see where that might work in US academia, but I have a hard time visualizing how it could work here in America. The questions almost write themselves...

1. So we are going to keep paying you, but you will be working for a different company?

2. What about your job here? Who will do your work while you are gone?

3. What if the project is successful, or you enjoy working there? What if you leave us? (clutches at pearls)

4. But who is paying for your health insurance?

Hm. Secondment. I'd never realized how this completely normal process in the rest of the world would be complete anathema to Corporate America...

veen  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's sort of like a marriage between freelancing and corporate work? Imagine you are a very specific field expert. There actual job offerings that require your specific expertise are few and far between. The kind of expertise you bring is useful in a lot of different organizations, however. You could work for yourself, but that would require an existing and broad network of people, which most people don't have. It also does not provide a stable income, or pensions, or colleagues.

So instead of doing that, you can also go work for a consultancy firm that has access to a lot of clients, knows how to negotiate a good deal and terms for working, and has the resources to help you get gigs you'd never get on your own, e.g. in a team or with organizations that they have a history with. In my case, two other colleagues have worked for this organization I'm lent out to in the past, and that greatly helps my case. You don't see much back from the higher-than-usual rates, but you do have a much more solid income & a stack of benefits and it's in everyone's interest at your job that you have enough work.

From the organization that needs the help it also makes sense. They get to have people on board for a temporary position, sometimes to fix things that are broken, without committing to a year contract and putting a lot of effort into aquisition. They can get someone for precisely the amount of hours it'll take to get something done. They don't pay anything beyond a flat rate per hour. They get more certainty that the person is vetted, because the secondment-ed person is part of a bigger organization with a track record. And they can post their temporary gig to big tender-websites, where they can easily get their position in front of a dozen potential, actually decent candidates.

The "well fuck those guys I'm jumping SHIP" does happen sometimes, but less often than you think. It's much more often the case that, if there's a good match, your temporary contract will be extended. In my case, I now have a 5-month gig, but with optional 6-month extensions if all parties agree to it.

goobster  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I guess the closest thing we have here in the US would be Consulting, like Ernst & Young, or something.

But that is a VERY different corporate relationship/agreement than a secondment.

It seems to me that a secondment is based sort of on a gentleman's agreement that both companies will benefit from this in the long term, and so - while the exact dollar value of the benefit is unknown - both companies agree the benefit is there. So they do the deal, and share the resource (person/skills).

Competitors used to do this more often; they'd be honest about a common wall that both companies faced - like, say, better data compression would help both companies' products, but neither had the full resources to crack the problem - so they would combine forces to innovate a solution, and would both share in the results of the research.

Xerox PARC was based on similar principles... smart people from all different companies and backgrounds coming together to jointly innovate...

Hm. Secondment. It would take a VERY different kind of American business to embrace such a thing. They'd be too defensive to collaborate/share in any significant way.

Foveaux  ·  177 days ago  ·  link  ·  

A secondment for us here in NZ would be a new job but within the organization, like I could be seconded to a higher role within the University for a year, covering someone on maternity leave or something similar. After that year, I would go back to my previous job, or I could apply to take over the role permanently if it worked out.

They're pretty common in large organizations here, good for dipping your toes in a different world with a bit of safety if things don't suit.

goobster  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Oh! That's an interesting version of a secondment I wasn't aware of.

What a cool way to "try on" a bit more responsibility, and see if the role fits. Clever.