Over the past couple of months, Steve Thompson and I have been exploring creating a product that helps mid-career professionals have more impact. We won’t go into detail here, but we believe that:
- Mid-career professionals have a lot of potential for impact, given their acquired skills, assets, status, knowledge, networks, etc.
- This group has not been a focus of the EA community and is relatively neglected.
We’ve gone in a lot of different directions while attempting to achieve product-market fit and through our many conversations with the EA community have been able to piece together a document that can serve as the ‘impact landscape’, that is, a high-level overview, of different ways these professionals can have impact, regardless of their situation.
Such a landscape is necessarily incomplete - we’ve gathered a lot of different ways to have impact, but I am sure there is still a lot we can add that we haven’t come across.
Now that we have a first draft of the landscape, we’d appreciate feedback from the EA community in two regards:
- Check out areas for completeness and add things that are missing. We’ve put “TODO” in areas where we know things are missing, but you are encouraged to add anything anywhere you think something is missing. You might think “an org is obviously missing from this list” and add it, or you might notice “this whole area of impact is missing” and you can add that too.
- You are also encouraged to critique the document. If you find that some method on here doesn’t work, or you think something isn’t impactful, that we are relying on outdated information, etc, that is also helpful. Please do note though that the goal of the document isn’t to get someone to do the most impactful thing in a vacuum - it is to meet someone where they are at and, given their constraints, provide an answer for them and is therefore purposely broad.
Here is the latest version of the landscape document. If you do make changes and not just comments, it would be helpful if you somehow tie a change to your name by a relevant change so that we know how to contact you in case we have follow-up questions. Of course, you can also comment anonymously if you prefer. Please enter your comments by this Friday, the 18th.
After getting feedback, we have some concrete ideas of what to do next:
- EA Reference - This document can become a standard resource for EAs to point mid-career professionals EAs to so they can check out the landscape and find what is right for them. It can be edited wiki-style by the community to ensure it is always up-to-date. The EA Hub feels like the right place.
- Public website - For a broader audience, this document can be modified and combined with a section of EA arguments outlining how to think about having impact and be presented on the web. This can then be an artifact that EAs can point non-EAs to who want to learn about what it means to have impact and how they can achieve it.
- Impact Advising - This document could serve as a basis for impact advising. An EA who has a good idea of the landscape can advise professionals on what they can do given their situation. Indeed, Steve Thompson and I are exploring creating a service that would provide just that.
Thank you for your help!
A special thanks to Steve Thompson as well as the many others in the EA community who’ve generously taken their time to talk with us over the past couple of months.
Nice work Devon! This is a great collection of resources. I like the clarity and directness of the document.
I understand that you want to meet people where they are and not push a particular view too hard, but I don't think it would hurt to put more emphasis on the things you think are most impactful. In particular, my guess is that getting a small number of people to change jobs or donate more is more important than getting a larger number of people to become mentors or something like that. So I think it would be good to add a couple of sentences in the career change and donating sections just emphasizing how much good one can do by taking these actions. Another way to do this without coming across too strongly could be to use concrete examples. Perhaps 80K has some go-to stories of people who have changed careers. You can also talk a bit about specific charities to make the idea of "doing good" more tangible.
I would also combine the "Take a Pledge" section with the earlier section about donating.
Nice to hear from you and thanks for the feedback Stephen.
You raise some good points and I definitely plan to beef up the document as things progress, especially with regard to the language around career changes as that will often be the biggest lever for impact as you correctly state.