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In the spirit of Aaron Gertler’s post about writing about your job on the forum, and to help promote the people and business ops roles 80k is currently hiring for, I decided to write about my job as an Operations Specialist at 80,000 Hours. (I’m currently spending ~35% of my time in a chief of staff role, but this post just focuses on the ops specialist part, which I spend the rest of my time on, and did full time for the first ~year I was at 80k). 

This post aims to give a picture of what my role looks like and how I approach it – ops roles are super varied and this post just aims to represent my experience, so you should take everything with a pinch of salt. 

This post might be especially useful for people who:

  • Are interested in exploring ops roles (particularly the ones at 80k)
  • Are fairly early in their career 

I don’t really touch on the impact I think I’m having in my role here, so if you’re looking for this you might want to check out 80k’s operations management career review instead. I also really liked Jonathan Michel’s botec about the impact of his office manager role at Trajan House, even though this is a different kind of ops role to mine.    


My background

  • Before joining 80k, I had a medium amount of experience with EA: I was involved in my uni’s EA group, was on the committee of the One For the World chapter there, and read a bunch of EA things. 
  • During my undergrad, most of my time when I wasn’t studying was spent playing badminton and volunteering on the badminton club committee. This helped me get my first full time role role:
  • After graduating, I was elected as the Athletic Union President at my university – a full-time, student representative role which involved a bunch of ops-style work like marketing, policy writing, budgeting, and event organisation to support student sport in St Andrews. You can read about how I used this role to test my fit for ops roles, and what that was like, in an 80k newsletter I wrote here
  • During my year as athletic union president, I applied to lots of ops (and some comms) roles at EA organisations, as well as some civil service roles. Around May 2022, I applied to the Ops Specialist role at 80k, and started the job in July 2022. 


What is my ops specialist role like? 

My ops specialist role is closer to the people ops role described here – involving responsibilities like maintaining our HR systems, running social events, and helping with hiring rounds. When I joined 80k, it was a fairly open question what my areas of responsibility would be – we experimented with a few different things as the year went on.

The broad strokes of my role include identifying problems and trying to fix them, helping to run the behind-the-scenes system which makes life easier for other team members, and project managing larger events and projects. 

But, to get more concrete, here’s a list of some of my ongoing responsibilities and projects that I’ve worked on: 

Ongoing responsibilities: 

  • Checking staff expenses and annual leave 
  • Onboarding new staff and offboarding staff who leave 
  • Coordinating with EV Ops on HR systems 
  • Helping to write and project managing our quarterly supporter update 
  • Updating the ‘about’ pages of our website 
  • Organising and promoting team socials 
  • Troubleshooting problems, like “what scale makes sense for our feedback round?” or “what’s going on with pensions?”
  • Contributing to the ops team (like reviewing other team members’ work or helping with quality assurance)
  • (Previous) responding to emails which come in to our info@ inbox 
  • (Previous) organising food and logistics for team events


  • Running our team retreat – finding a venue, organising logistics like transport and catering, choosing and facilitating social activities, and generally creating a smooth experience for the team. 
  • First supporting on, and then leading on, our annual feedback round and salary updates – although two different projects, the process involved was quite similar: drafting instructions and timelines for the team to follow, setting up the systems for these processes, and making sure everything was working as expected. 
  • Improving our onboarding and offboarding systems – designing systems which are easier for hiring managers to interact with, and which make sure nothing falls through the cracks. 
  • Creating policies and guidance which support staff – for example, writing guidance about how 80k implements EV’s childcare allowance policy and setting up a tracking system so that we can monitor this. 
  • Helping hiring managers run hiring rounds – reaching out to potential candidates, keeping tracking systems up to date, drafting and sending progression/rejection emails, helping organise the logistics for trials. 

And, to give some idea of the variety in ops roles, here are some of the responsibilities which 80k’s other ops specialist owns: 

  • Maintaining our internal metrics 
  • Managing our office manager, and supporting on office projects like creating more meeting room spaces and improving our food systems
  • Supporting our marketing team’s book giveaway
  • Overseeing our subscription services and tech systems 
  • Supporting 80k to spin out of EV 


Some distinctive things about my role which I really like (but others might not!)  

It’s really varied, and I’m always practising different skills. Some of the skills I most value developing are project management and writing for user ease.  My current self-dev focus is developing more views on high-level strategic questions. 

It’s also varied in the sense that in a single day, I’ll often work on a range of different projects. This suits me well because things are always moving and new challenges keep showing up. On a given day, I might spend some time writing up instructions for managers, book activities for the team retreat, work through the onboarding checklist for a new staff member, and respond to a handful of requests on Slack. 

Part of the purpose of my role is making life as easy as possible for other 80k team members – I really enjoy thinking about how I can save others time, simplify processes, or make my comms easier to engage with. I also get to work with people across the org. 

80k has a strong planning culture, which works really well for me. We have quarterly planning periods where we set goals for the quarter, and I create weekly plans for my manager meetings. I find this really motivating, and it helps me make plans which are both ambitious and realistic – allocating expected timings to each task means I can make better trade offs when new priorities come in. 

It’s been a steep learning curve working at 80k.  For example, I went into the role thinking I was pretty organised, but it soon became clear that my previous systems didn’t stand up to the demands of my role! It’s sometimes been tough to feel like I could be doing a much better job, but I’ve really appreciated getting lots of feedback from other team members, and have found it super rewarding to see how much I’ve grown since starting at 80k. 

The devil is in the details for a lot of things I work on – communicating precisely, asking the right questions, checking off a list of steps, and double checking information is accurate. I can see why people might dislike this, but I do enjoy feeling like a detective when I manage to hunt down some hard-to-identify HR mistakes.  

Overall, I’m really loving working in ops – I find it really motivating to always have a new challenge, to be balancing a busy schedule, and for there to frequently be new projects where I can practise new skills and continue to develop.  


What was applying to 80k like? 

I applied to 80k in May 2022, as part of my search for an impact-oriented job to do after my term as athletic union president came to an end. During my job search, I applied to around 10 roles, predominantly in ops but with a few comms, civil service, and community building roles thrown in. 

The 80k ops team hiring process has changed a little since I applied, but many aspects are similar – so, I’ll say a bit more about what the different stages were like for me: 

  1. Initial application form – This involved a collection of logistical and “getting to know you” style questions. I definitely wrote too much (read: several paragraphs where a few sentences would have been fine), and I’ve reviewed much stronger, much more concise responses for other hiring rounds I’ve helped with. 
  2. Work samples – I did a couple of different work samples for 80k, which typically involved having a set amount of time to make a recommendation about some ops decision, and share my thinking behind it. Time pressure aside, I found these pretty enjoyable, which I think was a good indicator that I’d enjoy the role. 
  3. Interview – I had one online interview, with Sash (the hiring manager) and Brenton (my first manager at 80k). As far as I remember, this was similar to most of the other interviews I’d had, except that there was slightly less focus on prepping ahead, and a memorable exercise of rating how good a fit I thought I’d be for different ops responsibilities, where I had to dig in that “no, even if I skilled up on tech, please don’t let me be responsible for your tech systems because I will break them all”. 
  4. Work trial – I had a 3-day work trial in 80k’s London office, which involved more work samples (in a similar style to the ones above, with some more interactive elements) and lots of meetings with different team members. It was a great opportunity to meet the team and get a feel for the atmosphere at 80k, even if I did manage to mistake Rob Long for Rob Wiblin (don’t ask). 

I was paid for my time for the work samples and trial, which 80k will try and do as long as right to work legalities allow it. They also booked me a hotel near the office, and I could expense my train tickets and food during the visit.   

Everyone was really friendly throughout the application process, and I’d definitely recommend reaching out to the recruiting team if you have any questions throughout.  


What to do if you want to apply to one of 80k’s ops roles

If it sounds like an ops role might be a good fit for you, you might want to consider applying to one of the ops roles which 80k is hiring for right now

There are a two different kinds of roles: 

  • People operations roles which aim to help make 80,000 Hours a great place to work and hire the people we need to fulfil our mission.
  • Business operations roles to build, manage, and optimise the internal systems (like finances, metrics, and tech) we need to run effectively as an organisation. 

And two different levels for each: 

  • Specialists are more likely to manage larger areas of responsibility, oversee complex projects, and design new policies and systems.
  • Associates are more likely to focus on owning and implementing our processes, identifying improvements and optimisations, and will take on more complex projects over time.

If you’re interested, have a look at the whole job ad here, and send in an application by 24th March.  

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here, or email recruiting@80000hours.org.   






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This so interesting, thanks for writing this up, Jess! As one of your 80k coworkers, I'm always blown away by how organized and detail oriented you are. Reading about your general approach to solving problems/mindset about your job; I'm not surprised that you're always trying to anticipate how to improve processes for the team, but it's still super impressive!

To others reading this post: I also endorse 80k as a cool place to work ;)

Executive summary: The author describes their experience working as an Operations Specialist at 80,000 Hours, outlining their responsibilities, what they enjoy about the role, and what the application process was like.

Key points:

  1. The author's responsibilities include HR tasks, project management, event planning, and troubleshooting problems. Projects have included running a team retreat, managing the annual feedback and salary update process, and improving onboarding systems.
  2. The author enjoys the variety of the role, the opportunity to develop skills like project management and strategic thinking, and the ability to make work easier for other team members.
  3. 80,000 Hours has a strong planning culture, which the author finds motivating and helpful for managing trade-offs and a steep learning curve.
  4. The application process involved an application form, work samples, an interview, and a paid work trial. The author recommends reaching out to the recruiting team with any questions.
  5. 80,000 Hours is currently hiring for people operations and business operations roles at the specialist and associate levels. Applications are due by March 24th.



This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

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