We’ve recently made a few updates to the program page for our career development and transition funding program (recently renamed, previously the “early-career funding program”), which provides support – in the form of funding for graduate study, unpaid internships, independent study, career transition and exploration periods, and other activities relevant to building career capital – for individuals who want to pursue careers that could help to reduce global catastrophic risks (especially risks from advanced artificial intelligence and global catastrophic biological risks) or otherwise improve the long-term future.

The main updates are as follows:

  • We’ve broadened the program’s scope to explicitly include later-career individuals, which is also reflected in the new program name.
  • We’ve added some language to clarify that we’re open to supporting a variety of career development and transition activities, including not just graduate study but also unpaid internships, independent study, career transition and exploration periods, postdocs, obtaining professional certifications, online courses, and other types of one-off career-capital-building activities.
    • Earlier versions of the page stated that the program’s primary focus was to provide support for graduate study specifically, which was our original intention when we first launched the program back in 2020. We haven’t changed our views about the impact of that type of funding and expect it to continue to account for a large fraction of the grants we make via this program, but we figured we should update the page to clarify that we’re in fact open to supporting a wide range of other kinds of proposals as well, which also reflects what we’ve already been doing in practice.
  • This program now subsumes what was previously called the Open Philanthropy Biosecurity Scholarship; for the time being, candidates who would previously have applied to that program should apply to this program instead. (We may decide to split out the Biosecurity Scholarship again as a separate program at a later point, but for practical purposes, current applicants can ignore this.) 

Some concrete examples of the kinds of applicants we’re open to funding, in no particular order (copied from the program page):

  • A final-year undergraduate student who wants to pursue a master’s or a PhD program in machine learning in order to contribute to technical research that helps mitigate risks from advanced artificial intelligence.
  • An individual who wants to do an unpaid internship at a think tank focused on biosecurity, with the aim of pursuing a career dedicated to reducing global catastrophic biological risk.
  • A former senior ML engineer at an AI company who wants to spend six months on independent study and career exploration in order to gain context on and investigate career options in AI risk mitigation.
  • An individual who wants to attend law school or obtain an MPP, with the aim of working in government on policy issues relevant to improving the long-term future.
  • A recent physics PhD who wants to spend six months going through a self-guided ML curriculum and working on projects in interpretability, in order to transition to contributing to technical research that helps mitigate risks from advanced AI systems.
  • A software engineer who wants to spend the next three months doing independent study in order to gain relevant certifications for a career in information security, with the longer-term goal of working for an organization focused on reducing global catastrophic risk.
  • An experienced management consultant who wants to spend three months exploring different ways to apply their skill set to reducing global catastrophic risk and applying to relevant jobs, with an eye to transitioning to a related career.
  • A PhD graduate in an unrelated sub-area of computational biology who wants to spend four months getting up to speed on DNA synthesis screening in order to transition to working on this topic.
  • A professor in machine learning, theoretical computer science, or another technical field who wants funding to take a one-year sabbatical to explore ways to contribute to technical AI safety or AI governance.
  • An individual who wants to attend journalism school, with the aim of covering topics relevant to the long-term future (potentially among other important topics).

See the program page for additional information.

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Executive summary: Open Philanthropy has updated its career development and transition funding program to broaden eligibility and clarify the range of supported activities.

Key points:

  1. The program now supports career development for later-career individuals, not just early-career.
  2. A wider range of activities is explicitly supported, like unpaid internships, self-study, career exploration, and obtaining certifications.
  3. The Biosecurity Scholarship program has been merged into this broader career development program.
  4. Examples show the program funds transitions into technical AI safety research, policy careers, journalism covering existential risks, and more.
  5. The updates reflect what Open Phil has already been funding in practice through this program.
  6. See the program page for full details on eligibility and supported activities.

 

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