Joseph Lemien

2575 karmaJoined Pursuing a graduate degree (e.g. Master's)Working (6-15 years)Seeking work



I have work experience in HR and Operations. I read a lot, I enjoy taking online courses, and I do some yoga and some rock climbing. I enjoy learning languages, and I think that I tend to have a fairly international/cross-cultural focus or awareness in my life. I was born and raised in a monolingual household in the US, but I've lived most of my adult life outside the US, with about ten years in China, two years in Spain, and less than a year in Brazil. 

As far as EA is concerned, I'm fairly cause agnostic/cause neutral. I think that I am a little bit more influenced by virtue ethics and stoicism than the average EA, and I also occasionally find myself thinking about inclusion, diversity, and accessibility in EA. Some parts of the EA community that I've observed in-person seem not very welcoming to outsides, or somewhat gatekept. I tend to care quite a bit about how exclusionary or welcoming communities are.

I was told by a friend in EA that I should brag about how many books I read because it is impressive, but I feel  uncomfortable being boastful, so here is my clunky attempt to brag about that.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise, opinions are my own, not my employer's.

How others can help me

I'm looking for interesting and fulfilling work, so if you know of anything that you think might be a good fit for me, please do let me know.

I'm looking for a place to be my home. If you have recommendations for cities, for neighborhoods within cities, or for specific houses/communities, I'd be happy to hear your recommendations.

How I can help others

I'm happy to give advice to people who are job hunting regarding interviews and resumes, and I'm happy to give advice to people who are hiring regarding how to run a hiring round and how to filter/select best fit applicants. I would have no problem running you through a practice interview and then giving you some feedback. I might also be able to recommend books to read if you tell me what kind of book you are looking for.


How to do hiring


Because my best estimate is that there are different steps toward different paths that would be better than trying to rewind life back to college age and start over. Like the famous Sylvia Plath quote about life branching like a fig tree, unchosen paths tend to wither away. I think that becoming a software developer wouldn't be the best path for me at this point: cost of tuition, competitiveness of the job market for entry-level developers, age discrimination, etc.

Being a 22-year old fresh grad with a bachelor's degree in computer science in 2010 is quite a different scenario than being a 40-year old who is newly self-taught through Free Code Camp in 202X. I predict that the former would tend to have a lot of good options (with wide variance, of course), while the latter would have fewer good options. If there was some sort of 'guarantee' regarding a good job offer or if a wealthy benefactor offered to cover tuition and cost of living while I learn then I would give training/education very serious consideration, but my understanding is that the 2010s were an abnormally good decade to work in tech, and there is now a glut of entry-level software developers.

I just looked at [ANONYMOUS PERSON]'s donations. The amount that this person has donated in their life is more than double the amount that I have ever earned in my life. This person appears to be roughly the same age as I am (we graduated from college ± one year of each other). Oof. It makes me wish that I had taken steps to become a software developer back when I was 15 or 18 or 22.

Oh, well. As they say, comparison is the thief of joy. I'll try to focus on doing the best I can with the hand I'm dealt.

I suspect that you are correct, Ulrik. A lot of EAs (myself included) often informally refer to people being EA as if that is a particular thing, but in reality it is actually an accumulation of dozens of little bits of knowledge, traits, preferences, and professed beliefs (like most identities/cultures). There are plenty of people that are 100% on board with using evidence and reasoning to do the most good that haven't heard of specific terminology that EAs tend to use, or that haven't considered the repugnant conclusion, and in my mind that doesn't make them any less EA.

Maybe we could think of it as the core stuff that really matters, and all the surface-level stuff that happens to come along. Actually trying to do good matters and being intentional about helping others matters. Interest in particular topics or having read specific books just happens to come along.

I think that is a good point, and I wish that we had included this in the post!

We approached this mainly from the perspective of a community building work (Tatiana's main work), which as a meta-EA job is probably the only type of work for which there is such high overlap between "alignment with EA" and "alignment with my organization's mission." But you are correct. I can see how there would be a lot less overlap for an organization focused on a specific cause.

The banner looks lovely. Great work.

FYI, there is at least one bit of false/inaccurate information on the banner. The bit about universal right to vote is referencing a database that considers Chinese people as having the right to vote since the late 1940s. While there is some voting that occurs in China at the local level with candidates that have to be pre-approved by the ruling party, it strikes as pretty inaccurate to claim full adult suffrage for China. It appears to references a dataset from this research paper, and I'm not sure why that dataset has this miscategorization.

(sorry to be nitpicky. I don't want people to read that almost everyone in the world lives in a democracy when in reality about 20% of people don't)

It's great to see that your efforts are expanding and paying off, and I'm looking forward to seeing Leaf's future development. Bravo on all of your hard work so far.

Welcome, Emmanuel! A lot of people get introduced to additional ideas of effective altruism through the virtual programs, through 80,000 Hours, and through various country or regional Slack workspaces. I don't know of any chat groups or Slack workspaces for Uganda or to East Africa, but you might be able reach out to other people to ask. There are also some cause-specific groups, like Hive for people interested in animal welfare.

Since EA is a loose community rather than a formal hierarchy, I encourage you to reach out to people. If someone wrote a post on the EA Forum about something you are interested, send them a message to ask if they have recommendations for how you can learn more, or if they know anyone you can talk to get get more involved.

Glad to have you here.

I think that there might be something meaningfully different between wearing nice clothes to a first date (or a job interview), as opposed to intentionally not mentioning more controversial/divisive topics to newcomers. I think there is a difference between putting your best foot forward (dressing nice, grooming, explaining introductory EA principles articulately with a 'pitch' you have practices) and intentionally avoiding/occluding information.

For a date, I wouldn't feel deceived/tricked if someone dressed nice. But I would feel deceived if the person intentionally withheld or hid information that they knew I would care about. (it is almost a joke that some people lie about age, weight, height, employment, and similar traits in dating).

I have to admit that I was a bit turned off (what word is appropriate for a very weak form of disgusted?) when I learned that there has long been an intentional effort in EA to funnel people from global development to long-termism within EA.

In the EA Anywhere Slack (which you can join here) there are semi-regular "random matches" with other members. Not every match will be somebody that you click with or have chemistry with, but if you are looking to meet new people and you don't live in a major city, it might be helpful.

It is quite challenging to build friendships without the in-person element. All of the friends that I have made are people that I have either met in-person, or people that I interacted with somewhat online and later met in-person.

EDIT: oh, I just remembered that you could join some online book clubs if you are a person who likes reading. I run a few of them that are either explicitly EA or are EA-adjacent. The way they work is that each has a theme/topic, and about once a month or so we vote on what book to read, then vote on what day/time to meet. After a few weeks of reading (or listening, if you prefer audiobooks) we then have a roughly hour long video chat to talk about it. It is pretty informal, and there are no discussion questions, and we are okay if people join only having read part of the book. If you want to read and discuss books around any of these topics, feel free to join. Also, feel free to share this info with other people. I’m not big on gatekeeping.

David, I think that you've hit the nail on the head. I imagine how I would react if a job posting said "the majority of successful candidates grew up in families with either wealth or income in the top quartile of their home country," and I know even though that is predictive of success (and it might be a useful data point for estimating how likely m own application would be to succeed). I wouldn't want to see it as a candidate. We could substitute in something less controversial, such as height, and I think that my preference to not see it would remain the same.

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