There are tons of forum posts about what it's like to attend an EA conference, guides to doing so, and exhortations to "err on the side of applying", but if you are the type of person who would prefer to hear what it's like first hand, or ask questions, those may not do the trick. 

Send me a PM and I will reply with my Calendly link to schedule a Zoom or call. Please ignore that this feels a bit awkward and just do it! (Consider it practice for scheduling 1-on-1s at the conference :)

Alternatively, if you think it would be more helpful to speak to someone in a similar situation, send me a few relevant details about yourself. I met a wide range of people at EAGx Boston and I bet I can find you someone who's a good match and happy to talk.

Personally, I can talk about what it's like attending mid-career/life, looking for (community building) side-projects, volunteering, using the conference app (Swapcard), preparing/scheduling 1-on-1s, attending talks, etc.

If you've attended a conference and are willing to talk to someone about it, please consider commenting on this post to say so, and give a few details like what I wrote in the paragraph above. (Alternately, if you don't want to post personal details, feel free to PM them to me.)

Lastly, perhaps CEA should consider formalizing this? I think it would be quite simple to setup. I imagine something like 

  1. Adding a question to the exit survey, "Are you will to speak briefly with someone who is interested in attending a conference?"
  2. Adding a link to like "Want to talk to someone who attended a conference? Fill out this survey to be matched with someone in a similar situation." (The survey would contain similar questions to the application.)
  3. Someone (I'd be happy to volunteer) would match people who fill out the survey in 2 to people who answered yes in 1, based on their survey/application answers. This could be manually done at first, but work could be done to automate it a bit more if it turned out to be particularly popular.

Alternately, or in the mean time, could just link to this post.

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I’m willing to speak to people about my experiences at EAGx Boston 2022 and EAG London 2022. I’m already signed up for EAG San Francisco 2022, so clearly I think it’s a great use of time and resources.

The number one reason to go is to connect with other EAs in person. I embraced the 1:1 philosophy and had about 50–60 1:1s combined over the two conferences. I am mid-career and knew only a handful of people from the online community. But people are friendly, want to connect, and want to help so it was super easy (barely an inconvenience) to schedule 1:1s and talk with folks. Even at meals, it's not hard to just sit down at a table and strike up a convo with whoever is there.

I've had follow-up conversations online, and it really helps to have established that in-person, face-to-face connection first.

If you are worried about the expense, then apply for funding to go. CEA has been very generous with grants since they know fostering deeper connections in the EA community is one of the best ways to spend money.

The one caveat is you should absolutely have at least a solid understanding of the EA philosophy and an earnest desire to contribute in some tangible way.

 You don't need to be perfect to attend. I believe the EA movement benefits from having a more welcoming, "big tent" approach. So if you're not fully vegan, don't give 10% of your income to effective causes, or aren't currently working in EA, that's ok. I think we benefit from having as many people as possible "kick the tires". Yes, that means some won't go any further than that, but even for them, the seeds are planted and they may talk about EA with others in their lives. If we treat browsers with respect, they can be marketing allies to help spread the word.

Awesome idea Jeremy! I'm also happy to talk to people, just PM me. For some background, I've attended a few conferences, help with some community building, and work in public health, bioethics, and biosecurity. I've organized a few intro and in-depth fellowships, so I like to talk to people and get them introduced into the EA community :)

This is a great idea Jeremy - thanks for posting it. I'm also happy to talk to people about what it's like attending an EAG(x). PM me and I'll send my calendly :)

Background: I'm originally from South Africa and spent 5 years as a student in Boston. I attended my first in-person conference in October 2021, and then was part of the organising team for EAGxBoston in April 2022. I'm interested in community building and biosecurity work.

I would be very happy to talk to people! I have been to EAG London three times. 

Once, I didn't know anyone and was too shy to reach out to anyone so floated round different talks. Once, I volunteered on reception and also got in some good conversations and workshops. Once, I spent most of the weekend in individual conversations - coming out inspired and exhausted! 

Very happy to talk to anyone if you message me :) I also used to work in the UK's foreign office and department for international development and am now studying AI. I think I'm nice and approachable!

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