The right job for Ethan?

First things first: this week’s Carnival of Space is up at Brian Wang’s site, Next Big Future. You can find my post on Mars or Arizona? up there.

Now, what comes next for me, since I don’t like it here in Arizona? Well, the Dangerman audition didn’t work out (I never heard back), and I’ve been scoping out the Portland, OR area, which could work out well. But I got an email earlier this week about a job vacancy at ESO (the European Southern Observatories). They are looking for someone to take on the role of being head of the ESO public outreach office! Really, this would be a wonderful job for me, and I would be a great fit for it. Consider that this is what they’re looking for:

Education: A University degree in science, preferably in astronomy/astrophysics combined with public outreach training or equivalent.

Experience: The candidate should have a proven record in scientific public outreach work and be well acquainted with astronomy. A familiarity with, and an aptitude to use effectively, modern communication techniques are expected. A very good knowledge of – and particularly an ability to write – English is required. Knowledge of another language, especially German or Spanish would be an advantage.

Key Competences:

  • Provides clear, concise and timely oral and written communications, identifying the key issues, examining options and proposing way ahead.
  • Is able to speak to colleagues at all levels, external contacts and the public and can explain a complex and technical subject in terms the non-specialist can understand.
  • Sets clear performance standards for staff and makes it clear what is expected of them, both
    as team and as individuals.
  • Understands the dynamics of team relationships and is able to bring out the best of teams (sic) members.

Well, what do I have to offer?

  • Education: A Ph.D. in Astrophysics while working presently on a Masters in Education in Science Outreach.
  • Experience: A proven scientific track record in research, a proven record as an educator at the University and high school levels, and experience doing public outreach, including giving public lectures, networking with educators, and, oh, writing and running this website! English is my mother tongue and I’m also fairly proficient in Spanish.
  • Key Competences: Clear and concise communications? Check. Ability to communicate with people of all levels effectively (including about things as esoteric and complicated as, say, theoretical cosmology)? Check. As for the leadership and managerial skills? Oh, I have them, no problem; anyone who’s met me or worked with me can attest to that.

The only weakness on my application is that I don’t have demonstrated on-the-job managerial experience, unless you count managing over 100 students per semester. It’s hard reaching for a job like this at such a young age. Well, that, and I’m an American, and the US is not a member nation of ESO.

And what would I tell people I’m doing? “Yeah, I’m the head of public outreach for all of the European Observatories in the Southern Hemisphere. No big deal.” I sent in my application already, even though they aren’t due until May 31st. Here’s hoping it works out well; wish me luck!


  1. #1 Brian
    April 7, 2008

    Good luck! It sounds like a great fit. If you get the job, I’m coming to visit!

  2. #2 ethan
    April 7, 2008

    You’d better! I certainly wouldn’t mind living right outside of Munich. I’d have to move there at the end of July; I hope that’s enough time to start training for Oktoberfest! Speaking of training, this cracked me up…

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