Summary

  • Training for Good will now focus exclusively on programmes that enable talented and altruistic early-career professionals to directly enter the first stage of high impact careers.
  • Concretely, we will only run the following programmes in Sep 2022 - Aug 2023: 
    • 1. EU Tech Policy Fellowship. 
    • 2. Tarbell Fellowship (journalism)
    • 3. *An unannounced 3rd programme which is still under development*
  • Applications for the 2023 EU Tech Policy Fellowship are open until December 11. Apply here.
  • In year 1, we experimented with ~7 different programmes, 6 of which have now been discontinued. This is largely because we believe that focus is important & wanted to double-down on the most promising programme we had identified thus far (the EU Tech Policy Fellowship which successfully placed 7 fellows in relevant European think tanks focused on emerging technology policy).
  • We plan to have an external review of Training for Good conducted between July 2023 - December 2023. We will default to sharing this publicly. 

 

Introduction

Training for Good is an impact-focused training organisation, incubated by Charity Entrepreneurship in 2021. 

Quite a lot has changed since our launch in September 2021. We considered our first year to be an exploratory period in which we ran manymany different projects. We’ve now discontinued the majority of these programmes and have narrowed our focus to running fellowships that directly place early-career individuals in impactful careers.

Now that TFG has a clearer focus, we're writing this post to update others in the EA community on our activities and the scope of our organisation.

 

What we do

Training for Good runs fellowships that place talented professionals in impactful careers in policy, journalism & other areas. We do this by providing a combination of stipends, mentorship from experienced professionals, training and placements in relevant organisations.

Between Sep 2022 - Aug 2023 (i.e. year 2), we plan to only run the following programmes:

  • EU Tech Policy Fellowship
  • Tarbell Fellowship
  • *An unannounced 3rd programme which is still under development*

 

Why this might be important

Many high impact career paths are neglected by talented and altruistic people, often because they lack clear pathways for entry. This is limiting progress on some of the world’s most important problems: reducing existential risk, ending factory farming and tackling global poverty.

TFG seeks to provide concrete opportunities for early-career professionals to gain entry level roles in impactful career paths that are difficult to enter. Building these talent pipelines could be important because:

  • Direct progress on problems: Talented individuals in these career paths can directly contribute to progress on solving the world’s most important problems
  • Closer towards the “ideal portfolio”: We mostly take a portfolio approach to doing good. One could imagine an optimal distribution of talent within the effective altruism community, which might involve people pursuing a variety of different career paths. With our fellowships, we are attempting to move the effective altruism community closer towards this ideal allocation by enabling people to pursue paths that we believe are currently underrepresented (and expect to remain so) within this community’s portfolio. We believe that thinking in these terms is particularly useful partly due to:
    • Diminishing returns from certain career paths
    • Epistemic uncertainty about which career paths are best (and the associated information value from reducing this uncertainty somewhat)
    • Differing personal fit for individuals across different career paths
  • Concrete opportunities: The number of people interested in effective altruism has been growing in recent years, but many are unclear how to contribute. Fellowships provide concrete opportunities for early-career individuals to build career capital & explore their fit for a specific career path.

 

Our focus

Our fellowships centre on:

  • Early career individuals Our programmes target the most talented & altruistic people who are within the first 5 years of their career (we also consider this to include mid-career professionals who are pivoting to a new career). We are confident that the effective altruism movement will provide a promising stream of such people in the coming years.
  • Entry level positions: We place these talented professionals in entry level positions (eg. by coordinating bespoke internships with partner organisations).
  • Difficult to enter careers: We focus on career paths which are potentially high impact but unusually difficult to enter. In particular, this means focusing on careers in policy and journalism.

We choose to narrow our attention to the above stated focus because:

  • Focus is good. In year 1, TFG spread ourselves thinly across many projects. We were keen to maximise the information value of exploring many different topics, formats and stages of the talent pipeline. We are now keen to “do less and obsess” by focusing our attention on ensuring the highest impact projects go as well as possible.
  • Doubling down on our most promising programme: The EU Tech Policy appears to have been of much higher value than all of the other programmes we ran in year 1. We successfully placed 7 fellows in relevant European think tanks focused on emerging technology policy. We are keen to explore programmes similar to this in form to see whether we can replicate this across other career paths.
  • Clearer feedback loops. We expect to see clear signs whether programmes of this type are working within ~6 months of starting them (as we can observe whether people are being offered full time roles, etc.). This will allow us to iterate much more quickly on our programmes - doubling down on what’s working and improving / removing what’s not.
  • Comparative advantage. Excelling here does not seem to require expertise in the specific career paths. Rather it mainly consists of (i) identifying suitable career paths & entry level opportunities (ii) coordinating & collaborating with relevant actors to arrange placements, mentorship, stipends, etc and (iii) vetting suitable candidates
    • Given that our team is highly entrepreneurial & strong at building partnerships, we expect to be unusually good at (ii). By focusing on a narrow set of career paths (policy and journalism) we also expect to become excellent at (iii).
  • More directly influence whether people enter given career paths. By placing people directly in career paths , we reduce the number of steps in the theory of change and thus increase the likelihood of them successfully entering a given career path (compared to programmes which primarily provide upskilling / career planning).

 

Talent funnel

We work to increase the supply of talented & altruistic professionals entering high impact career paths.

When considering the “talent funnel” for entering an impactful career, we view ourselves as primarily moving people from taking moderate altruistic action to entering the early stages of a high impact career.

(note: this funnel is massively simplified. We’re aware that many will not pass through all stages of the funnel, while others may take a route not captured by this model). 

 

Theory of Change 

TFG’s general theory of change for our fellowships is outlined in the picture below.

We’ve also developed a specific theory of change for each programme and created a detailed list of “paths to impact” that we expect fellows might pursue.

 

Our Programmes

EU Tech Policy Fellowship

What is it

The EU Tech Policy Fellowship is an 8-month fellowship for aspiring EU policy professionals interested in safeguarding future generations from threats posed by emerging technologies (especially artificial general intelligence).

Applications for the 2023 EU Tech Policy Fellowship are open until December 11. Apply here.

Why

Our vision is for a world where policy safeguards future generations from threats posed by emerging technologies. 

We believe that technologies developed this century, especially artificial intelligence, could pose an existential risk to humanity. Governments have an important role to play in managing the long-term societal impacts of these technologies. We believe that EU policy could be an important lever in positively shaping the trajectory of these technologies and are excited to support aspiring policy professionals interested in working in this area.

What we offer

  • Summer sessions (June - Aug). An 8-week reading group & guest lecture series. These sessions focus mostly on AGI safety fundamentals, cybersecurity and the EU policy landscape. Guest lectures are conducted by leading researchers from organisations such as GovAI and policy professionals working in EU organisations.
  • Brussels training weeks (June & Sep). Two separate week-long trainings in Brussels: one in June before the summer sessions and the second in September at the end. These are intensive weeks featuring guest speakers, workshops and networking events.
  • Placements (Sep - Feb) A  4-6 month placement at a relevant European think tank. Partner organisations include The Future Society, the Centre for European Policy Studies and the German Marshall Fund (track 1 only)
  • Application support  (Sep). A month to explore relevant roles in the European Commission, party politics and other areas relevant to emerging technology. Fellows can participate in career workshops, receive feedback on applications and gain access to mentorship opportunities. (track 2 only)
  • Stipend. Fellows receive stipends of up to $2,250 per month during the full time period of the program.
    • Track 1 = 4-6 months (for the duration of the placement) 
    • Track 2 = 1 month (while receiving application support)

2022 Programme

  • We launched this programme in June 2022 with 12 fellows. At present: 
    • 6 fellows are currently completing 4-month placements at European think tanks.
    • 4 fellows received support to apply for roles in the European Commission and other relevant organisations.
    • 2 fellows are using their increased understanding of the space to pursue other goals (e.g. bridging the gap between policy & research while completing their Phd at Stanford).
  • Following the 8-week summer sessions & a week-long training in Brussels, fellows reported that they were very likely to recommend this programme to others in their position, with an average score of 4.9 / 5.

2023 Programme

  • Applications for the 2023 EU Tech Policy Fellowship are open until December 11. Apply here.

 

Tarbell Fellowship

What is it?

The Tarbell Fellowship is a 12-month programme for early-career journalists interested in covering topics that could have a major impact on the lives of billions, such as global poverty, animal welfare, and existential risks.

Why

Our vision is for a world where journalism is focused on highlighting & solving the world’s most important problems.

We believe that journalists have a powerful role to play in positively shaping public discourse on important topics. Impact-focused journalists can encourage the adoption of good policies, hold powerful actors accountable in the public arena, and inspire readers to take specific high-impact actions. 

What we offer

  • Stipends. Fellows receive stipends of up to $50,000, depending on circumstances, to accelerate their journalism careers. We expect stipends to vary between $35,000 - $50,000 depending on location and personal circumstances.
  • Mentorship from an experienced journalist. Each fellow is matched with an experienced journalist. Mentors will provide critical feedback and challenge the fellow to set goals and deliver on them. They'll conduct fortnightly mentorship calls and connect mentees with their network.
  • Training. Fellows participate in remote sessions each week as a cohort. This will include training in best practices, talks from experts in the field and challenging assignments designed to build skills.
  • Oxford Summit. Fellows attend a two week summit in Oxford at the beginning of the fellowship (March 1st - March 14th 2023). This will be an intensive fortnight of guest speakers, workshops and networking events in Oxford / London. Travel and accommodation costs will be fully covered.

2023 Programme

  • 2023 will be the inaugural year of the Tarbell Fellowship. In our recent application round, we received over 950 applications in total and ultimately expect to accept up to 10 fellows.
  • We have an exciting line-up of mentors, including experienced journalists with experience in the New York Times, the Economist, Vox Future Perfect, and the BBC.
  • Although applications for the 2023 cohort have now closed, we encourage you to sign up to our newsletter if you might be interested in participating in future years.

 

Discontinued programmes from year 1

We experimented with running a lot of different programmes in year 1. Those listed below no longer fit within our scope and have been discontinued.
 

We don’t expect to prioritise writing up detailed learnings from these programmes in the near future. Get in touch if you feel such a write-up would be especially useful to you. We’d also love to speak if you’re interested in progressing one of the below programmes independently and can likely share our materials with you. Email cillian [at] trainingforgood [dot] com.

  • Impactful Policy Careers a training programme designed to help participants plan for a high-impact career in policy. The first iteration in December 2021 was a 2-day programme and the second iteration in March 2022 was a 4-week programme. We’ve observed several job changes towards (higher-impact) policy roles and participants attributed substantial percentages to the IPC workshop. Applications for a new edition recently closed. This is now led by some trusted former trainees and previous TFG interns.
  • The Red Team Challenge was a programme that called small teams together to "red team" important ideas within effective altruism. The inaugural challenge was run with 35 people participating, across 10 teams. This programme provided training in “red teaming” best practices and some teams posted their critique on the EA Forum.
  • Negotiating for Good was a training programme in salary negotiation to help individuals increase ​the amount they earn and their capacity for effective giving. It was conducted in February 2022 with 35 participants. The training was well-received, with an NPS of 9.1/10 and we observed self-reported confidence in negotiation skills from 2.3/5 to 3/5. We are unsure whether this outcome is net positive in expectation. This is mainly because (i) this programme may have encouraged some participants to remain in roles with relatively low donation potential that would be well suited to direct roles, and (ii) this programme may have discouraged participants who are a good fit for roles with higher donation potential (e.g. quant trading, entrepreneurship, etc.) from pursuing those paths. 
  • Impact Grantmaking was a 6-week grantmaking training programme with a cohort of ~10 people. We discontinued this programme before our pivot. This is mainly because (i) our research & conversations with grantmakers has produced mixed results on the need for this programme, (ii) the introduction of the FTX Regranting Programme likely addressed the need for funding diversity to a greater extent than this programme could, (ii) the pilot appeared to have been largely unsuccessful. We suspect that the main reason for this is that most participants did not have access to regranting funds and therefore did not see the “real world” application of this programme.
  • Capacity Ventures: We completed a first iteration, a 3 day virtual bootcamp to help aspiring entrepreneurs to build skills by (i) executing a self-directed project over 1-6 months and (ii) conducting a skills assessment and developing an upskilling plan in response to that. ~10 people participated in this pilot, all of whom had made it to the final stages of Charity Entrepreneurship’s application process for their Incubation Programme.
  • Coaching: Began offering subsidised professional coaching to 20 EA leaders and high-potential individuals. Clients include staff at Rethink Priorities, Founders Pledge, Giving What We Can, CEA & a number of leaders at other organisations. There is a growing number of active coaches in the EA community (you can find a list here)

 

How will we know if we’re succeeding?

We will attempt to measure & estimate our impact on a programme basis. We also plan to have an external review conducted between July 2023 - December 2023 to help account for motivated reasoning and to provide some validity. We will default to sharing this publicly.

This will inform three separate decisions:

  • (i) Scale up, shut down, steady state: Whether to scale up, shut down or keep a given programme (and TFG as a whole) at a steady state. 
    • How much value did a given programme produce relative to its operating costs / the opportunity cost of fellows and TFG staff? 
    • How much value do we expect to generate in future years?
  • (ii) Choosing future programmes: Which “high impact careers” we choose to run fellowships for in future (e.g. if the EU Tech Policy Fellowship appeared to drastically outperform the Tarbell Fellowship, this might lead us to prioritise policy programmes over communications programmes in future). This could also include prioritising between which programmes TFG should run (e.g. doubling down on Tarbell & discontinuing EU Tech Policy Fellowship).
  • (iii) Deciding how to run future programmes: Both in terms of (a) who we select and (b) the composition of future iterations of the programme (eg. length, whether we facilitate placements, etc.)

Our current plan for measuring our impact is to split the assessment into into 4 broad categories:

  • (Proxy) The number of relevant career transitions we have facilitated.
  • Minimum impact: Measured by attempting to quantify the value of the “impact moments” reported by past fellows.
  • Estimated impact: (Expected lifetime impact - Counterfactual lifetime impact Attribution to our actions)
  • Progress towards our strategic goals.

 

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1 comment, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 5:35 PM

Thanks for sharing and your great work during the last year. Having talked to you several times, I was and am impressed with your systematic approach to finding product-market fit/high expected impact opportunities, your ability to build MVPs to test ideas quickly, and your courage to discontinue programs that do not meet your bar.  

I think the latter is hard especially after investing weeks of work into programs and it is easy to trick oneself into motivated reasoning, about why it might be worth continuing the program. I admire you for having the courage to make tough judgment calls. Probably most of us should stop mediocre activities (earlier)