22tom

Tom Barnes

Currently: Junior Researcher at Founders Pledge.

Previously: Visiting Fellow at Rethink Priorities, PPE student at Warwick, EA Warwick Fellowship co-ordinator.

Topic Contributions

Comments

Lizka's Shortform

Thanks for writing this Lizka! I agree with many of the points in this [I was also a visiting fellow on the longtermist team this summer]. I'll throw my two cents in about my own reflections (I broadly share Lizka's experience, so here I just highlight the upsides/downsides things that especially resonated with me, or things unique to my own situation):

Vague background:

  • Finished BSc in PPE this June
  • No EA research experience and very little academic research experience
  • Introduced to EA in 2019

Upsides:

  • Work in areas that are intellectually stimulating and feel meaningful (e.g. Democracy, AI Governance).
  • Become a better researcher. In particular, understanding reasoning transparency, reaching out to experts, the neglected virtue of scholarship, giving and receiving feedback, and being generally more productive. Of course, there is a difference between 1. Understanding these skills, and 2. internalizing & applying them, but I think RP helped substantially with the first and set me on the path to doing the second.
  • Working with super cool people. Everyone was super friendly, and clearly supportive of our development as researchers. I also had not written an EA forum post before RP, but was super supported to break this barrier.

Downsides:

  • Working remotely was super challenging for me. I underestimated how significant a factor this would be to begin with, and so I would not dismiss this lightly. However, I think there are ways that one can remedy this if they are sufficiently proactive/agent-y (e.g. setting up in-person co-working, moving cities to be near staff, using Focusmate, etc). Also, +1 to getting a fast computer (and see Peter's comment on this).
  • Imposter syndrome. One downside of working with super cool, brilliant, hard working people was (for me) a feeling that I was way out of my depth, especially to begin with. This is of course different for everyone, but one thing I struggled to fully overcome. However, RP staff are very willing to help out where they can, should this become a problem.
  • Ugh fields. There were definitely times when I felt somewhat overwhelmed by work, with sometimes negative spirals. This wasn't helped by personal circumstances, but my manager (Michael) was super accommodating and understanding of this, which helped alleviate guilt.

If it's helpful, I might write-up a shortform on some of these points in more depth, especially the things I learnt about being a better researcher, if that's helpful for others.

Overall, I also really enjoyed my time at RP, and would highly recommend :)

(I did not speak to anyone at RP before writing this).

FAQ: UK Civil Service Job Applications

This is super helpful, thank you!

Which departments/roles do you think are most important to work in from an EA perspective? The Cabinet Office, HM Treasury and FCDO seem particularly impactful, but are also the most crowded and competitive. Are there lesser known departments doing neglected but important work? (e.g. my impression is DEFRA would be this for animal welfare policy - are there similar opportunities in other cause areas?). Thanks!