When A Stranger Asks

On occasion, strangers looking up info on the Gates Foundation (usually via Google which points them to a few pages) contact me to ask what it was like working as a part of the US Library Program. This happened again tonight and I thought I’d share my response here:

Hi *****,

I worked as part of the US Library program at the Gates Foundation for several years, doing training in public libraries all around the country. The libraries we served had 10% or higher poverty rates (this includes almost every public library, sadly). It was an amazing job and experience that I am grateful to have taken part in. However, that program wrapped in 2003 and roughly 95% of the US Library Program folks were laid off. We knew it ws coming so it wasn’t a bad or unexpected thing for us.

I found BMGF to be a model employer and an organization that had an astounding number or driven, intelligent and caring people working there.

However, I do know that It is very difficult to gain employment there and they are flooded with very high quality applicants even when there are no jobs for them. I would encourage you to pursue your interests, but temper you interest in working for this specific foundation with the understanding that it is amazingly difficult to get a job there.

Happily there are lots of other orgs out there doing very good work that are also exciting, positive and contribute to the good of society in important ways. I wish you well in your search!


If folks as about conslusions drawn for my time at the Gates Foundation, I point them to this article. It’s a few years old, but the points are still right on. I guess I have to say that though since it’s an article I wrote, eh? Here’s a link.

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