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Careers Questions Open Thread

Hi Sonia, this was a path I previously considered. Hopefully someone else with actual experience will chime in. In the meantime, here's some armchair thoughts in no particular order.

If you haven't already, check out Chris Blattman's blog: He's a professor at UChicago who posted a lot on academia, policy, and economics. Highly recommend the articles linked on the sidebar.

If you're targeting a PhD, your school's ranking probably trumps everything else. And rankings tend to be consistent across sub-disciplines. There are some outliers -- I believe there's a University of California school that's high up in agricultural economics -- but generally speaking, the top 10 are always going to be Ivy Leagues.

You could try to aim for a specific advisor (Esther Duflo at MIT, or Dani Rodrik at Harvard), but I'm not sure how much control you have over that.

For networking purposes, you might find studying in DC/NYC/Boston helpful. Most US IDev jobs are in these three places (Boston is much smaller in presence, but it's also growing b/c of  J-PAL). The faculty in these locations may have more IDev connections. Plus you can pop into a think tank event on occasion

I'd only use this as a tiebreaker though. A top 20 school in the middle of nowhere is probably better for your career than a rank 50-80 school in DC. (Assuming you're pursuing a PhD, and a research-oriented path)

The funnel or the individual: Two approaches to understanding EA engagement

Could the Individual Approach be considered a complement to the Funnel Model?

The Individual Approach explains "Entry/ Transition" as a major life change. To me, that sounds a lot like moving deeper into the funnel

Long-term retention sounds like staying at your current stage. And drop-off sounds like moving back a stage, or leaving the funnel entirely

Stanford EA has Grown During the Pandemic; Your Group Can Too

I highly recommend Lightning Talks. Participants are allowed to present on any topic they want for 5 minutes. They've worked wonders for Effective Altruism DC.

The main consideration is how to do questions:  You can do these immediately after each talk. Or you can finish all talks, then do a giant free form discussion. Or you can finish all talks, ask who's interested in each speaker, and then split them up into breakout rooms. Or you can let people have ongoing conversations in the chat room. Or you can tell people to message the speaker individually.

The most orderly way is to do a short live Q&A after each talk. Then tell people to message the speaker directly for additional questions. This prevents the chatroom from spilling over into the next topic.

Other consideration would be getting enough people to do it in the first place. I suspect this event is great for sustaining momentum, but terrible for creating it.

As for topics, I suspect most groups should start by allowing any topic. The more restrictions you add, the less participation you'll get. Lightning Talks are primarily about lowering the barrier to presentation, and I have yet to hear of someone having too many lightning talks.

An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance)

I tried logging in. Got a "This item might not exist or is no longer available" message.

Please do email a copy! My address is

EA Group Organizer Career Paths Outside of EA

(Speaking as a Software Engineer with 3 years professional experience, and a casual EA organizer in Washington DC for 1.5 years)

It's worth thinking about how technical a community-building role is. My impression of tech evangelist roles is that companies want your engineering skills to be top-notch, but are less strict about your community organizing skills. In that case, EA organizing would make sense as a side project but not as much sense as a full-time job.

The other caveat that comes to mind is whether EA offers opportunities for large-scale organizing. I can't think of that many EA groups with >50 regulars. But I can easily think of few tech meetups, local political chapters, and social groups with >100 regulars and enough engagement to have active Slack channels + multiple ongoing projects.

Collection of good 2012-2017 EA forum posts

Thanks! I'm adding all the articles from Movement Strategy into my reading list

An Effective Altruist "Civic Handbook" for the USA (draft, calling for comments and assistance)

Would also be interested in accessing a draft. I started looking into this topic on my own, but it looks like you've down a lot of research on it already!