I find myself asking this often, so I thought I’d write a public post instead. This will be informal and drafty, but it’s split into sections you can skip to.
I’m a software developer with 14+ years of professional experience, recently quit my job hoping to work on something EA related, currently trying out a few side projects, considering a specific job, but also open to waiting for better opportunities to come up.
What do I want?
People are bad at answering this question correctly, but here’s my attempt:
EA / Improving the world
TL;DR: Meta causes and rationality.
I think longtermism is important but that I’m not a good fit for helping there.
I care about rationality and systematic change.
Direct impact, not earning to give
This is also a motivational thing for me.
Having a good life
No remote work
I don’t think I’d enjoy it for social reasons.
I’m not totally against trying, especially if I have an unusually good connection with the team, but it seems unpromising.
Another option would be setting up logistics where I’d spend all my time sitting with friends here while working remotely. It's a possibility, but I’ve tried it before, it’s challenging, and now we even have a pandemic.
No relocation (I live in Israel)
All of my family and social circle are here.
Probably not founding a startup
A lot of things in this path do attract me, but not the stress.
Doing something where I have added value
See next section
What am I good at + what do I like doing?
I learned how to program when I was 13 and got addicted to it immediately. I've been doing it professionally since age 18, and I’m 32 years old.
I won’t go over my entire CV, but the job that was closest to my heart was being a “CTO As A Service”, which means I was a freelancer who met founders with a startup idea, and I’d build it for them, focusing on how to go to market quickly.
Early stage projects (product)
The mindset of The Lean Startup and Y Combinator really resonates with me: Launching quickly without overthinking things and getting feedback from the real world.
On a personal note, this was a big change in me. I used to be the person who teaches software design and creates great plans about how they make everything generic and scalable. No more. Well, unless there’s actually a good reason.
Maybe not a core skill, but I really enjoy it, and I think I'm ok at it.
I also ask for advice a lot, but I admit this very public post is outside my comfort zone.
What am I already doing
Beyond taking a break from work for the first time in my life, these are my side projects:
Mentoring EA Software Developers ("Effective Developers")
A new project, see my post.
On a personal note, younger-me made such uninformed career decisions. Did you know that when I had 8 years of professional experience in c/c++, I wasn’t sure if anyone would accept me as a junior web developer? I wish I could send younger-me a note, but at least I can help my friends at home, and now, EAs too.
A volunteers’ board (“impact colabs”)
We connect people looking for projects - with projects looking for people.
Looking for the most impactful tech companies in Israel
This aims to:
- Give concrete options to software developers that want to improve the world while still working in Israel.
- Create a public discussion about how to measure the impact of a company. Today, the level of discussion is something like “medical? good!” or “gambling? bad!”. I think this can be improved easily. I also think technical people (who like numbers and graphs) could be good early adopters for this way of thinking, as part of the project of spreading EA in Israel. Also, the Israeli tech community is pretty competent and creative. I have hope that if they’ll be better at measuring what actually improves the world, some promising startups will pop up. Also, I’m a good fit for talking to them.
There are lots of things to discuss about this (such as “isn’t it really hard to evaluate companies?”).
I could write a post describing how I think about it if people are interested.
- The recommendations will be nowhere as good as 80000 hours’.
- I still think getting people to talk about measuring impact could be useful. I also think moving some people to the top 1% most effective companies in Israel is doable and still useful.
- I have internal doubts. If you want to discuss (or collaborate on?) this project, let me know.
What other options do I have?
Monday’s social impact team - please help me analyze this!
Monday have a good CRM/project-management tool.
I think they actually care about improving the world.
They have a brand new social impact team with a huge (!) budget and no developers yet.
Their vision is to help nonprofits get the most out of technology. [Edit: I removed all the examples]
How useful is it to help a large number of ineffective charities?
How to even approach this calculation?
Should I expect to find ways to help charities with things (A) they already want and (B) also actually improve the world a lot?
For example, if I help them measure ESGs, which isn’t my metric of choice, but I do it at scale, how much impact would that have?
How can you help?
Things “I know I don’t know”
- Help me estimate the Monday option
- Suggest other employment options I didn’t think about
- Find ideas to improve (or reasons to discard?) one of my projects
Things “I don’t know I don’t know”
- Perhaps there are things that I want and I’m not taking into account?
- Maybe there’s a different way of thinking about the problem?