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I am a 22-year-old computer science undergrad from Argentina. I am currently staying in eastern California, where I will be working for the duration of the winter season.

I am very interested in EA, and have learned much from it, but I have never been personally involved. I've applied for the EA Global happening at the Bay Area in a couple of weeks, and my application was accepted.

I am unsure whether it would be worth it taking the effort of travelling to SF to attend the conference. I am slightly introverted and would probably be travelling alone. The truth is, I don't know what I'll find there and I am afraid that I may find myself out of place.

I am interested in the possibility of meeting like-minded people, but I don't know if that's what I'll find. I fear I may be facing mostly older graduates who have already invested part of their lives to EA, and not the likes of me who have merely toyed around with the possibility of taking this path. I don't know what I'll do there, how I'll spend my time, or what "meetups" actually are.

I am also interested in the possibility of finding job opportunities. I have a good resume and plenty of skills to offer. But I live in Argentina, so I'm only available to work remotely or do internships during (my own) summer. Until I graduate in two years, that is.

The truth is, I just need someone to give me a common-sense idea of what EA Global is. Knowing my position, am I in place to gain from this, in spite of the complications? Travelling would be expensive. Or will I stay in the background and regret my decision? I am stuck in the abstractness of the pros and cons.

Thank you!




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Welcome to the EA Forum,  Brian. :)

You can look at these videos for first timers, which have a lot of good tips.

Going to an event like this alone when you don't know anyone can feel really intimidating. Especially since EAGs generally don't have group activities; people generally spend time doing one-on-one conversations. I've been to a handful of conferences like this, and I always vaguely felt that most other people were coming with a group of friends, or that they were coming along and meeting old friends. Especially if you are shy or socially anxious, it can feel bad to feel alone while being surrounded by people that all seem to know each other.

If you have travelled solo before (such as backpacking or CouchSurfing) and you've created friendships with new people when you don't have any prior connection, then a conference like this will probably be okay for you. If you haven't done that type of thing, then this will probably have moments when you feel uncomfortable or awkward. Dinner time might come and you see everyone else walking around with friends, and you have no dinner plans. Or you have a few hours between scheduled events and you don't have anything to do.

People involved in EA tend to be friendly, but many (not all) are also socially awkward. People also also tend to be busy, and one way they value their time it to prioritize who they spend their time with. So it isn't the same kind of friendly that you might see in a youth hostel or at a beach barbeque with friends or at a pickup basketball game. I'm guessing that most of the people attending the EA Global in the Bay Area in February will be a bit older than you, but you wouldn't be an outlier. The team that handles admissions for these events try hard to get a good balance of attendees with more experience and with less experience, and this lets younger people seek out advice and mentorship. You can see an age distribution from a previous survey here (although that won't exactly match the age distribution of this conference). Also note that the EA Global event in February is specifically focused on x-risks (EA Global: Bay Area (Global Catastrophic Risks)), so if you mostly care about malaria or mental health or animal welfare then you might not enjoy it very much.

If you think that the EA Global event would be too challenging for you, you can keep your eyes open for upcoming EAGx events. There in one in Mexico City in a few weeks. If you'd prefer to learn more about EA and maybe try to attend a different conference in the future, there are several reading groups, Slack workspaces, and email newsletters you could use as a method to slowly "ramp up" your knowledge and confidence over the course of several months.

Absolutely beautiful response, couldn't have been more complete. This helps me a lot, thank you!!

One suggestion I would add is to try volunteering. I'm also introverted and went to my first EAG without knowing anyone, and I found it way easier to chat with other volunteers than random people at the conference. The people who volunteer tend to be either fellow first time attendees (including many other students) or people who are friendlier than average.

Hi Brian, 

Izzy here (I project manage EA Globals at CEA), Joseph has covered most of it but I just wanted to give my quick take!

Our admissions bar is pretty high so if you've been accepted then we think you should attend! You will be on the younger side of attendees but we typically have a healthy dose of undergrads attending so you certainly won't be alone. On the that note, one of the best things about EA Globals (in my humble opinion) is the pool of more experienced EAs who are not just willing but excited to give you advice and help you test ideas about your career and improving the world, so I would try not to worry about being on the less experienced side. In fact this is the reason we run the event, to facilitate new connections and to allow people to share their wisdom and help each other.

We'll be running an online workshop pre-event for first timers so you can meet some fellow attendees and get help planning your conference so you can get the most out of it. (You should receive an email about this when you register but feel free to DM me if not). Throughout the weekend we'll also be running lots of speed meeting sessions (as well as meetups) so hopefully this should provide another avenue for making connections. One final suggestion for meeting people is volunteering as that way you'll meet the other 45 or so volunteers and can hang out in the volunteer room etc when you need down time. You can read more about volunteering on the FAQ page or email hello@eaglobal.org for more information. 

Please let me know if you have other questions. 

Hope to see you there :)


The only thing I would add to Joseph's response is that EAG Bay Area last year had a ton of undergrads.

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