Julia Michaels 🔸

109 karmaJoined Working (15+ years)Washington, DC, USA



I have more than 16 years of professional experience in the fields of higher education, institutional transformation, and policy research. My strengths include project management (both traditional and Agile), fundraising and grant writing, data analysis, people management, and outstanding written and verbal communication skills. In addition to my professional experience, I've volunteered with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for about 8 years and I'm passionate about mental health and well being. I have a Master of Public Policy degree and a B.A. in political science. 

How others can help me

I'm looking for opportunities to volunteer on climate change-related projects.

How I can help others

I'm always happy to connect and discuss an idea. I can also provide 1:1 advising and coaching to early-career professionals who want to pursue opportunities in the nonprofit sector.


This was a really courageous post. It's not easy to make yourself vulnerable even among EA "friends". Your org's shutdown and that of other recently incubated charities makes me wonder if the whole startup-type approach of co-founding an organization with 2 people and ~$100K and a few months of research isn't just setting people up for failure. The work you were trying to do takes years of effort and deep expertise but you were clearly under the gun from funders to get results quickly. I can't see how anyone else, no matter how brilliant and motivated, wouldn't end up in the same place you did without substantially more resources and time. I think you are right that a much narrower focus or limiting efforts to a specific political initiative/motion would have worked better but it still seems like an uphill battle.

You're absolutely right. And not even for "stupid" reasons per se. As an employer I've found myself considering several finalists for a job and all 3 are great and can do the work...but at the end of the day, there can be only one hire and I just have to pick. It's nothing personal.  Where I think people are getting hung up is not necessarily feedback on why they didn't get hired for a specific role, but not knowing what will help them improve their success rate in the job search overall. Because we all want to improve.

Looking back at my notes, I think what I observed across the interviews was that being ignored or getting a formulaic email reply was associated with feeling slightly antagonistic toward the employer (from what I can gather). Getting any kind of personalized feedback was appreciated, even if it wasn't ultimately that useful. So I guess that kind of supports your theory that giving a stupid reason is better than no reason.  

Personally, I'll share that the most helpful feedback I got was from Charity Entrepreneurship (now called something else), after I explicitly asked for it. They said I wasn't creative enough in my final interview and that was a core skill required for incubating a charity. I consequently stopped considering entrepreneurship as a pathway and refocused my energies toward finding a job, which was a big relief and (I think) helped me get hired faster.

To be clear, I don't think re-posted jobs are fake (although that was truly the perspective of one person I interviewed). Having been in the hiring manager chair enough times and overseeing several failed searches, it's usually a) requirements are too specific, b) salary offered is too low, or c) the new hire didn't work out - rare, but it happens. What I don't know is whether EA jobs are re-posted more frequently than jobs in the rest of the universe. My guess is that it's a universal problem but it would be interesting to find out for sure, and if that points to a more systemic problem (EA orgs consistently offering below-market salaries, for example).

Thank you, I will definitely check out the advanced series!

I loved this story and the way you told it. You took some risks and learned from setbacks and ultimately got to a point in your career where, I believe, many people would like to be. As a middle aged person with a non-linear career (I started my working life in debt collection - shhhh!) it gives me hope that I can start a new chapter even if it doesn't look like a traditional "job." Thanks for sharing.

What advice do you have for mid-career professionals who only have ~40K hours left?

You've done some wonderful research and this is a great list. It does seem very heavy on AI, with only a few projects addressing other existential risks. I'd be curious to know about some other ideas that didn't make the cut for this post, but are aimed at addressing other risks.

Kudos to you for having the courage to write this post. One of the things I like most about it is the uncanny understanding and acknowledgement of how people feel when they are trying to enter a new social group. EAs tend to focus on logic and rationality but humans are still emotional beings. I think perhaps we may underrate how these feelings drive our behavior. I didn't know that university organizers were paid - that, to me, seems kind of insane and counter to the spirit of altruism. I really like the idea of making it need based. One other thing your post made me reflect on is how community-building strategies and epistemics may differ at less-selective versus highly-selective universities. Your experience is at highly-selective schools but I'm curious how many EA groups there are at regional comprehensive universities and open access schools, or HBCUs, community colleges, tribal colleges, etc. Those student populations are very different but may bring valuable perspectives to EA if effort is made to engage them.

Thanks for this post, as I've been trying to find a high-impact job that's a good personal fit for 9 months now. I have noticed that EA organizations use what appears to be a cookie-cutter recruitment process with remarkable similarities across organizations and cause areas. This process is also radically different from what non-EA nonprofit organizations use for recruitment. Presumably EA organizations adopted this process because there's evidence behind its effectiveness but I'd love to see what that evidence actually is. I suspect it privileges younger, (childless?) applicants with time to burn, but I don't have data to back up this suspicion other than viewing the staff pages of EA orgs.