This post originally appeared on hnryjmes.substack.com.
Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian political economist, once stated that “the budget is the skeleton of the state stripped of all misleading ideologies”.
Why should this be the case? I think the answer is something like what we have for ‘skin in the game’ considerations: what can you get someone to pay you to do?
I recently started following the Civil Service Jobs website, as many who work in the UK public sector do, to think about my next role, but recently started following every job posted on there, at least for London. Why? It’s a great way to learn about what the government spends money on. (And, those who post jobs on there often don’t use the categories in a consistent way, so at least looking at everything is a good way to not miss interesting stuff!)
The 80,000 Hours job board currently has 521 roles on it, at the time of writing, and is updated daily. I’ve begun to think of this in the same way as I think about Civil Service Jobs, not as a utility to use occasionally and forget about until I need a job again, but as a valuable knowledge resource: what can one get paid to do, in EA?
These positions focus on the global problems where we expect additional work to have the biggest impact. This list is particularly focussed on opportunities to reduce extinction risks or positively influence the long-term future. It includes promising opportunities for direct impact, and also roles that will help you get the career capital you need to work directly on these areas later.
You get a perspective on EA that is sometimes very different from that you might gain from reading people’s blogs, Facebook posts, or listening to podcasts. You see that the EA community at large is a diverse collection of different roles across research, government, media, law, entrepreneurship, etc. Mostly, work at these organisations is considered highly valuable, even if the organisations themselves aren’t particularly associated with effective altruism.
I think this is an encouraging picture and one that we should remind ourselves of as often as we can. EA is about doing good, but it’s also about actually getting valuable stuff done. It’s not about having “effective altruism” somewhere in the name of your employer.
I strongly and happily encourage you to take a look for yourself!