All of Ashley Lin's Comments + Replies

We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships

Thanks for sharing this, Chana! In the initial draft post, I had included some smaller changes to the Intro Fellowship, one of which was to host all sessions as dinner parties in an effort to draw out these late-night convos -- so I’m really excited this is something you’re thinking about. +1 on both of your interventions above. 

I’d also add that I think there are two types of 1-on-1s I do with fellows: the first is the classic career 1-on-1 where I try to connect people with useful resources / opportunities to speed them along in their EA journey. Th... (read more)

I suspect that for all the but the most gung-ho people, the second should come before the first, or take up the first half of the meeting. I remember doing community building for the Jewish community in college and people started to find some of the overweening helpfulness off-putting. (But organizers may just be better at it than I was)
We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships

Thanks Anjay! I think this idea seems promising and definitely worth trying. Some potential pitfalls I’d probably want to design around:

  • Students find it difficult to commit to a thing for three consecutive weekends. (not sure how to fix this)
  • Students are super hyped during the 3-week period, and quickly lose interest after workshops end. Helping students set post-workshop goals / commitments, connecting them to peers and mentors for follow-up 1-on-1s, plugging them into projects, etc. could address this.
  • Students forget what happens in between the weeks. I think your idea of mid-week discussions and socials could be helpful here, as was Chana's suggestion for a “crash course” review.
We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships

Thanks Joris! It sounds like your 4-week fellowship sprint went well. Would be excited to see a longer forum post on this and look at pre/post fellowship survey results (if they are available!)

I’d agree with this maybe extending to “a general call for group organizers to be more innovative in their approaches to group organizing.”  I think a lot of effort has been put into making plug-and-play resources to run uni groups (which can be useful in certain situations!), but generally think established groups / experienced organizers have on-the-ground kno... (read more)

We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships

Thanks Ben! Agreed that readings / connections are some of the most important things needed to capture the most talented and proactive people. That said, it seems like even the most “self-motivated” people get distracted in the college environment, where there are so many competing things to learn and student groups to be part of. As a result, I think slightly more structure is needed to get these people:

  • For #2, instead of just getting folks subscribed to a newsletter, I like the idea of informal group chats and Discords that hold self-motivated people in
... (read more)
We need alternatives to Intro EA Fellowships

Thanks Mauricio! I agree that some of the pitfalls for the alternatives, specifically challenges with accountability (more things being self-directed) and content (shorter timescales affording less time to consume content), seem significant. That said, I’m optimistic that there are ways to mitigate those challenges through program design.

I think we agree that increasing accountability and quality content in Intro Fellowship-like things seems like a good idea. To me, the “current baselines of accountability and content” in the Intro Fellowship are not what ... (read more)

Thanks! Yup, to be clear I didn't mean to suggest "more of the same," although you're right that my examples near the end may have been overly anchored to the events fellowships currently have. Hm, maybe. One hypothesis is that people tend to understand and remember ideas much better if they engage with them for longer amounts of time. If true, I think this would mean more (good) content is better. This seems likely to me because: * It seems much more common for people to have big life/worldview changes from books than from talks or articles. * Collections of somewhat detailed readings let people check links, see responses to a wide range of counterarguments, look things up if they're missing context, and more generally get a more thorough version of an argument. * A bunch of core motivations for EA and its cause areas are potentially paradigm-shifting, so they seem especially hard for people to quickly slot into their existing worldviews. * More time spent on an idea --> more attention spent on it, more chances to make downstream updates * Much of the K-college educational system seems built on this assumption (which is definitely not rock-solid evidence, but it's some evidence) * The spacing effect is a thing (unless that too has failed to replicate?) So I'm skeptical that people can "really get" ideas like "we're always in triage," or "maybe animals matter," or "maybe we should think a lot about the future" from just brief summaries. (Brief summaries accompanied by things that motivate people to look into things more deeply on their own seem great, if we can pull that off.) So I'm still hesitant about replacing content with projects. Still excited about: * Content + additional ways to dive in * Or replacing some content with other activities that encourage deep engagement (e.g. certain retreats) if we can figure out good follow-up (I'm also not sure about the self-directed fellowship format--we could mitigate the relevant
Penn EA Residency Takeaways

I’ve spent a couple hours reflecting on this and think the Penn residency was quite successful. As an organizer, I am incredibly grateful to have been able to shadow Sydney and Thomas for a couple weeks and help out / learn how to do things like 1-on-1s, run weekly dinners, set up club logistics, etc, (I was probably spending 20+ hours/week supporting the residency). 

That said, I’m wary of people updating too much in favor of residencies based on this post. 

Stanford EA ran a couple of residencies at other top universities on the East Coast during... (read more)

Thanks for the detailed reflection! Nitpick, for the sake of readers having more complete info about the track record of residencies: I think it was Georgetown that got 1 Stanford EA organizer (who prefers to not be named here) for a couple of days. My understanding is this also wasn't enough time for them to do that much. (1 FTE also feels high, since there weren't enough ongoing group activities / emails in the mailing list / availability from local organizers for the organizer to spend more than several hours per day helping with Georgetown EA.) The other data points of residencies I'm aware of are: * 2 organizers went to Princeton for about a week (more info in this comment [] ) * Several organizers went to Boston, focusing on MIT for times ranging from several weeks to a few months * One organizer has been at Berkeley for a few months
Penn EA Residency Takeaways

Why do you think Penn EA was sped up by ~4 months?

There are a bunch of caveats; see [3]. Sydney thinks it might be more than this, especially if we permanently added value to the club rather than just providing a speedup. Ashley should probably answer this more.


I’m also quite uncertain about the ~4 month speedup, but my instinct is that if Sydney and Thomas didn’t do the residency, Penn EA would look like what it does now a semester later. 

I think the primary value that the residencies provided are points 4 and 5, “being motivational/inspiring, ... (read more)

1Thomas Kwa8mo
I can believe this. If so, then the most important quality in a resident might be a motivational/inspiring temperament or something. If this is a rare property that Sydney or I have, it might prevent most residencies from being as good as Penn. But even when doing things is replaceable, I'd still be excited by residencies that pour more time into organizer groups at the start of the year at an efficiency level roughly similar to the marginal organizer hour, especially when the school is large enough that returns diminish slowly.
1Thomas Kwa8mo
Nitpick, but I don't think returns were diminishing, unless you think there are diminishing returns to more emails gathered on overall club quality, because we maintained similar emails/hour numbers for most of the 2 weeks we were tabling.