Origins, nuts and bolts
As I try to carve out some time over the next few months to focus on developing the website further, one element I’d like to get back on track is the blog (it’s been over two years since a real one!). I have plans for how to do this, but I thought I would just get the ball rolling again with some of the basics of the website. Where it came from and how it works. I think these are the two most asked questions I get when meeting people and talking about the site.
A few months ago, I was joking when I mentioned I had been working on this website too long… (which, of course will never be the case, hopefully!). The list that you are all on started with just 30 of my close water friends back in 2010, I think. I mention some of this in the “About” page, but I would get tired of trying to figure out who to send those emails to when getting the request to “please pass along this job to your network”, so I created a Word doc and copied and pasted my fellow younger professionals’ emails in there. I was then ready for whenever that request came about, which was not THAT frequent.
I’m not exactly sure when the shift happened, but I think I must have gotten like 2 or 3 in one week, so put them together in a small list and sent them out via my Gmail account. And, for some reason, at some point, I started seeking out jobs for these emails as well. I wasn’t looking, as I was in the middle of PhD hell. Maybe it was procrastination, which still happens today :)
Eventually, I’d have like 5-10 water jobs every 3-4 weeks. Then, I’d be at World Water Week and meet some fellow young professionals and say, “Not sure if you’re interested, but I have this small jobs list that I send out every few weeks if you’d like to be on it…” And, people were like, “Sure”.
Slowly, it became a solid 10 jobs every two weeks. And then more. I then started to get random emails from people who had been referred to me by others on the list to join. The first saved email that I could find that I sent out was from January 2013 when there were 22 jobs and 160 people on the list, and it was coming out three times a month. I’m putting a photo below of what the list looked like then, because I wasn’t even hyperlinking the links at that time, and it had attachments... Zero categorization. They were quite messy and ugly at times, especially because some URLs were like five lines long.
The list continued to grow organically, without advertising and with me putting in more effort to find the jobs, until, in early 2016, when I was publishing 40-50 jobs/week to around 800 people. The problem at this point is that it was becoming difficult for people to find jobs that I had sent out in previous weeks, so I figured it was time for a website to create a searchable database. After two tries with web developers, I finally had a conversation with my middle school friend Hank who was willing to partner on this and build the website. And you now have Josh’s Water Jobs as you experience it today, growing at a steady rate since the website was launched in June 2016. The numbers are… significantly higher.
So, how does it work? The search for the curated list of water jobs is not an easy one and very nuanced. I’m sure many of you experience what happens when you type “water” into a jobs search engine. Jobs for plumbers, lifeguards, janitors, firefighters, etc. all show up, because, as we know, water is everywhere ;) Trying to make it more precise is not so straightforward either. I’m not kidding when I say I have around 120 websites bookmarked that I go to every week (and some several times a week) to find the jobs that are on the list, because, yes, I probably find 95% of the jobs on the site myself. I have a system down, so know how each website works and remember where I left off from the previous visit (there are plans to work on developing a better way to do this). While I think many people believe I receive all the jobs I post, this is actually not the case (so always happy for people to send me them via email or the “Post a job” link on the site!).
Then there is the uploading, which you see me regularly asking for volunteers to help with. Or used to, as this has not really worked. There is a form that myself or the volunteers fill out with all the job-related information that you see come up when looking at open positions. This is more straightforward than finding them, but it’s time-consuming. Overall, this takes about 10-15 hours of my time/week, not to mention the time that the volunteers put in as well and Hank keeping the website updated, safe from bugs and the changes we carry out.
I actually have no idea how many people get jobs, etc. off the website (another question I get). Since I’m just posting jobs and not actually carrying out recruitment processes (soon!), there is no way to track this other than emails I receive and people approaching me at everything from conferences to weddings (not joking, it happened a few months ago) telling me they got a job, internship or scholarship through the website. You can imagine this makes me really happy, and makes all this worth doing, so always happy to hear these updates from people! I very much enjoy the work I do in water, but I do feel like the website actually has more impact, so the goal is to continue to develop it further to provide more spaces to connect and opportunities for career development.
If you have any related questions about the site, please post them below in the comments! I can maybe take some of them and put them into another blog post or respond directly in the comments.
Thanks for following!