Hi, Incandescent! I’d love to be your Summer Research Associate :)

Hello, Incandescent! 👋🏽

I’m Tim.

I’m an honors undergraduate student, psychology researcher (interested in organizational psychology), and freelance writer. In my career, I hope to help make the future of work better.

I’m also big fan of what you do. I think your mission to research better ways to create, build, and run organizations is more than necessary— you’re going to make our future of work great.

An associate of yours Charlotte reached out to me on Twitter to let me know you all are hiring for a Summer Research Associate.

I’m definitely interested.

But instead of just expressing my interest to you (and as you write very thorough and thoughtful content on Medium), I thought I’d take it a step further and write to you why I’d love to join your team.

Why I’d Love To Join Your Team

1. I want to help your mission of bettering organizations.

I’m hungry to learn from others whom are setting the bar in this work, and I think that’s your company.

And as I’m most interested in organizational psychology, I believe the best way to better organizations is to make work a space for people to be their best. I believe a company who’s blog is titled On Human Enterprise may have the same hunch.

2. And like you, I’m obsessed with self-management and moving it forward.

There are huge reasons to believe that self-management is the way companies should organize for the future. We, as people, can (and will) be at our best when we have autonomy to execute, are fully-trusted, and aren’t micromanaged.

But as you’ve written about, self-management is definitely not a panacea. It may not work for everyone. So what kinds of organizations benefit more from specific models, like Holacracy? Which organizations would do fair from just applying principles of self-management without having to implement a full model?

I think the most important problem we need to figure out with self-management is how we can make sure it’s truly empowering people to be their best. This was best said by Alexis GonzalesBlack in her interview with Jacob Morgan:

“There’s this whole other nut to crack in self-organization which is: How do you take care of people? And how do you make sure that people have really healthy ways to connect and to form identities and to be a part of something larger when we’re asking them to manage themselves?”

Tons of huge problems around self-management are left needing to be solved. Problems I imagine have been sticking around in your brain as much as they have been in mine.

And problems I hope to ultimately help solve in my career (hopefully with you).

How I Have the Right Skills & Experience for a Research Associate

Are bow-staff skills listed in the position description?

1. I have the academic research and writing experience.

I’ve done research projects from conceptualizing its idea, to using PhD-level social science statistical analysis techniques, to writing full-blown academic research papers. With the mentorship of my good friend Katerina Schenke, I’ve first-authored an entire research manuscript and have submitted it to an academic journal for publishing. We just heard back from the journal we submitted this paper to, and they want us to revise and resubmit it, so we’re currently in the process of doing so.

At the moment, I’m doing a senior thesis on how positive emotions predict job performance with Dr. Sarah Pressman and have presented preliminary results at the world’s largest personality and social psychology conference. I also manage the Stress, Emotional, and Physical Health Lab at the University of California Irvine.

Some of my awesome labmates!

A large part of the Research Associate’s responsibility is conducting literature reviews. I’ve done literature reviews for my senior thesis and my submitted paper.

And I just wrote a Medium post with NYC-based organizational design startup The Ready where I review the research on Emotional Intelligence (comin’ out soon 😉).

Speaking of Medium posts…

2. I also have the non-academic writing and research experience.

Being able to relate different ideas and make them concrete is a responsibility of a Research Associate. I’d argue successful strategists should be able to do this, too, and I owe credit to CPJ for his (summarized) advice on this:

“Know how to relate seemingly different ideas and package it in a way that isn’t just understandable, but adds novel value.”

I’ve made very theoretical ideas on new ways of working concrete, concise, and actionable with my writing with FLOX: a product by organizational/team design group, NOBL (FLOX is now replaced by the Future Of Work .is). Some of my favorite posts I’ve written are:

And you’re already aware of my writing with The Ready (thank you for the recommends!) and how I make theoretical ideas like learning agility, conscientiousness, and wholeness very understandable and practical to us:

3. I’m extremely productive — and have the systems in place to make sure I am.

It’s crucial to be comfortable with ambiguity in strategy and in self-management. What helps with this comfortability is if we cultivate our own workflows and productivity systems.

Mainly inspired by the thinking of Cal Newport, I’ve refined my own personal productivity workflows,

streamline the small tasks and focus on the big ones,

and work in uninterrupted chunks of time (while rarely working on weekends and past 6pm on weekdays).

And like Niko, I do Weekly Reviews Getting Things Done style.

Projects I’m Excited to Work With You On

For the sake of keeping this post to its current length, I’ll save this for an email or when we chat. 😁

Why I Fit Right in Your Culture

1. I am an incredibly curious guy.

My closest friends know I’m an inquisitive person. I always have my nose in a book or on my Instapaper.

What got me interested in consulting as a career is industrial-organizational psychology, which exposed me to our awesome field of organizational design. I learn as much as I can about organizational structures (or non-structures) of the future: Holacracy, Spotify’s Agile Squads, Open Allocation, and self-managed teams. I also try to stay up to date on thinking behind technology’s impact on work.

At the moment I’m tracing back roots of the future of work by learning about design thinking (and human-centered design) and the history of management consulting: I’m currently reading Lords of Strategy (and owe Niko the credit for the suggestion).

2. I’m a listener-first.

One of my favorite quotes is one from one of my favorite psychologists, Adam Grant:

“Argue like you’re right, but listen like you’re wrong.”

Those who know me know I love to listen, learn, and ask a ton of questions even over stating my opinions.

I’ve also written about why listening is a prerequisite to give good advice:

3. I make sure the work I put out is my best.

In Niko’s post, Advice to a Student, his big takeaway for an aspiring strategy consultant was:

People should do things that they care intrinsically about and are committed to doing it with excellence.

Niko’s belief is closely aligned to what I believe meaningful work is:

Every day, I ask myself how I can be incrementally better than yesterday in my work and personal life. And through this blog post, I hope I’ve made the case to you that I only aim to do things with quality.

I’d love to join you all as a Research Associate this summer, and explore our opportunities post-summer.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, and for the opportunity to consider me.

I hope we’ll be in touch.


If you’d like to support my application for Incandescent, feel free to give me a ❤︎ below!

Shoutouts to Brendan Hufford and Raghav Haran for inspiring me with this approach.

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