Nothing Ambiguous In This Job Description

A job listing for a Program Manager at the Armed Services Arts Partnership came across my social media feed today. I might not have followed the link except that I was curious what type of work the Armed Services Arts Partnership did.

I thought a lot of the job description was particularly well written in terms of being clear about what the expectations would be. The duties clearly reflected the needs of this job rather than having been cut and pasted from a generic description or another organization’s job description.

What really struck me was the “This Role Probably Does Not Make Sense For You If” section. I am not normally inspired by job descriptions, but this one made me wish I had thought to write something that reflected the expectations and culture of my organization so well. (my emphasis)

-You cannot live in the DC Metro Area.

-You are uncomfortable working in a small work environment that involves less structure than a larger organization.

-You are looking for a traditional job with a 40-hour work week.

You are applying to this job because you think our programs are cool, but you haven’t considered the amount of work that goes into developing them.

-You don’t check your emails and deliverables at least three times before sending.

-You are approaching this job viewing veterans as victims to be saved or heroes to be revered, rather than contributors to and leaders of our community.

The “This Role Probably Makes Sense For You” section is longer and more positive. I don’t want to misrepresent the tone of the listing as being negative and exclusionary. I just appreciated that they were able to state their expectations and operational philosophy so well.

Here are some of the “Makes Sense” criteria they listed. I thought they were equally well written. They are just slightly less arresting. If this sounds like the job for you, check it out a bit more:

You are passionate about art education, community arts, performing arts, veterans affairs, mental health, civic engagement, community-building, and/or social entrepreneurship.

You are energized when working in demanding, fast-paced start-up environments where you have the ability to shape the future of an organization and movement.

You are intellectually curious and excited by opportunities to develop new skills.

You view yourself as an entrepreneur, thrive in environments where you have autonomy over your work, and are capable of managing your time effectively and efficiently.

You understand that the behind the scenes work necessary to build, plan, and improve programs is just as important the actual program delivery.

You are excited by the opportunity to lead and foster the growth of a dedicated staff.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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