A lot of people aren't sure what to expect when they apply for 80,000 Hours coaching calls. We thought it might be helpful to give you some context.
Who can we help?
- We love when people form inside views on issues, and question ideas that don't make sense to them. So we encourage you to apply for advising even if you don't agree with everything on the 80k website.
- However, we’re most able to help people who are open to working on some of the top problems we list on our site, or something in a related area. We think most of our impact comes from helping people who end up working in these areas, and since they’re the topics we focus on, our advice is best for applicants who could potentially take relevant career paths.
- We’re best able to help people who are mid or early career, with some idea of what they want to do, but open to changing directions and building new skills. These people are often between the ages of 20 and 40. But we definitely also talk to people who are outside of this range, and can offer them valuable guidance and point them to great opportunities.
Ways you can get value from an 80k call
- Setting aside time to reflect deeply on your career trajectory is really valuable.
- Running your ideas by somebody else with reasonable judgement is helpful.
- If you already have a great plan, checking it over with somebody else can make you feel a lot better.
- We can tell potential collaborators and mentors what you’re doing in case they want to be involved or help you out.
- Advisors tend to know a lot about the people and orgs working on important problems and can point you to resources/orgs/causes you might not know about.
- Advisors have different backgrounds and can give expert advice in specific sectors (more on this below).
- Speaking with an 80k advisor can help you grow your professional network (though this isn’t always possible in all cases).
- You can opt into being recommended for roles that are a match for your plans and skills. We are often asked to recommend candidates for roles at high impact organisations, and you can give us permission to recommend you for roles we think would suit you.
- After your call, you will be invited to join the 80,000 Hours Alumni Slack. This is a great place to network with other people focused on doing good via their careers. The 80,000 Hours team also periodically updates our alumni about opportunities and resources they may find helpful.
Before the call
We ask you to fill out a call prep document that prompts you to reflect on how you define positive impact, which areas you want to work on, and which careers seem most appealing or attractive to you.
Filling out the call prep document has been consistently identified as one of the most valuable parts of advising. In other words, you can gain a lot of clarity on your career just by setting aside an hour to write down your answers to these questions, even without speaking to an advisor!
You can make a copy of our call prep doc and fill it out now if you’d like. (We won’t be able to see your answers, this would be for your personal reflection.)
During the call
For people early in their career, we usually cover these topics:
- What is your current situation and default career path?
- Let's take your skills/experience out of the picture completely and think about what the world needs.
- How do you think about choosing which pressing world problem to work on?
- What qualities make these things problems?
- What are your values, and how can your career align with them?
- Which of these problems would you be able to make progress on based on your personal aptitudes, existing skill sets, and interests?
- Long-run paths
- Which skills/experiences/career capital will help you do impactful work on problems you care about?
- What kinds of work can you see yourself doing over the long term, how can you aim to do that, and how can you test your fit for certain kinds of roles?
- Immediate decisions
- Are you deciding between two options in the near future? Which one seems most promising, and how should you think about the choice between them?
- Long-run paths
- Other questions/uncertainties?
- How can you get more information?
- What actions should you take in the next week/month/6 months/year?
- Write a plan for when you will take these actions.
For people who are already committed to a cause area, we might cover a slightly different set of questions, such as: What is your theory of change?
Areas of special expertise
Our different advisors have different areas of expertise, and can give very specific advice (e.g. how to have an impact as a medical doctor, or which AI safety org’s research agenda best fits your interests). Right now, these five advisors are taking calls:
- I (Abigail Hoskin) have a PhD in psychology and neuroscience and can talk about paths into and out of academia. I can also discuss balancing having an impact while parenting (multiple!) kids.
- Huon Porteous has a background in philosophy and experience in management consulting. He has run a huge number of useful “cheap tests” to test out his aptitudes for different careers and is always running self experiments to optimise his workflow.
- Matt Reardon is a lawyer who can talk in depth about paths to value in law, government, and policy, especially in the US. He also works on product improvements and marketing for our team.
- Sudhanshu Kasewa was a machine learning engineer at a start-up and has experience doing ML research in academia. He also contributes to the Alignment Newsletter.
- Anemone Franz is a medical doctor who previously worked for a biotech startup on pandemic preparedness. She particularly enjoys discussing careers in biosecurity, biotech, or global health.
To be clear, all of our advisors are equipped to talk with anybody about any career; you should book in with whoever is available when you are. We do not think our primary path to impact is giving extremely specific advice about getting into specific programs (e.g. how to apply for a PhD). Instead, we believe our value comes from higher level advice, like building frameworks for how to make big decisions and helping identify misconceptions that may be holding you back.
Things that usually don't happen on calls
- Career advisors do not usually help you with your resume, review cover letters, or do interview prep.
- We don’t think this is our comparative advantage or how we add value. Many other advising firms provide these services.
- We are not hiring managers, and we cannot directly hire you for any jobs.
- The trend here is that we’re trying to help our advisees help the world, not help themselves win zero-sum competitions for roles. Our goal is to identify what you think is most important, think through what that means, and help sketch out careers that promote what you value based on your personal fit.
If in doubt, apply!
- If you get rejected from advising, you can always reapply. We won’t consider it the least bit spammy if six months have gone by.
- You should not update too much on getting rejected from advising. People get rejected for lots of reasons. For example, there are some people who are really cool who we just don’t think are at the right place in their career for coaching, such as freshmen who would benefit more from reading the (free!) 80,000 Hours career guide than speaking to a coach for half an hour.
- Don't "save" your advising call until you feel "ready". It’s better to let the advising team decide if we can add value on the margin. Your advisor can help you make your plan, and if the path you're on could be improved, it's best to get course correction sooner rather than later. You can also contact your advisor after your call if big decisions pop up later.
Our advisees have a diverse set of backgrounds and perspectives. We love talking to anybody who takes doing good seriously. Hope to speak to you soon :) Apply here: https://80000hours.org/speak-with-us/