I work as an Advisor for 80,000 Hours, before which I worked at the Global Priorities Institute and ran Giving What We Can.


Careers Questions Open Thread

Thank you for all your questions and comments! This thread has now been up a while and is getting unwieldy, so the 80,000 Hours team won't be posting further on it. Thank you to everyone who contributed answers - I think that's meant that everyone has received some answer to their question. Apologies that we didn't manage to personally reply to all of them.

Careers Questions Open Thread

Finding roles for skilling up within your organisation sounds like a good idea to me - that seems quicker and cheaper to try out than doing a whole new degree. Longer term, an MSc in ID does sound like an impactful degree. The jobs it leads to could be fairly competitive though - you might like to look carefully at what jobs you'd be aiming for afterwards, and try to get some sense of whether you'd be likely to get them if you had the degree (eg by reaching out to the organisation). You might also like to do some related MOOCs, to give you a good sense of how much you'd actually enjoy the MSc. 

Careers Questions Open Thread

It sounds like you have some great options. 

I basically agree with your assessment that provincial policy over the longterm doesn't sound that impactful. On the other hand, it's important to be in a role that seems sustainable for you. I would have expected that Seattle was a good place for earning to give in tech, which was one of the places you mentioned was near family - does that sound appealing in the longer term? It could be worth chatting to other EAs in finance about they've found earning to give over the longer term - whether their sense of its meaningfulness has increased/decreased over time for example, and how your feeling on it now compares to theirs. 

Applying to a few things like RSP sounds like a good option for impact, though I'm not sure how many of these kinds of roles are likely to be able to be done remotely in the long run. Perhaps Rethink Priorities would be good option though - I think they've always been remote. 

These are fairly high level thoughts - it might be useful for you to chat to our team in more detail. 

Careers Questions Open Thread

That sounds like a great position to be in! I think it's a little difficult for me to say anything very useful at this level of generality, so you might want to apply for advising

I would guess it will depend quite a bit on what civil service roles are open to you at the point where you might switch, as to whether staying is the right decision. You might want to chat to HIPE about which roles seem to be particularly good opportunities. 

I would guess it would be useful for you to get a better sense of where you ultimately want to end up, in order to be able to target your career capital some rather than keeping it fully general. There's some discussion of you might do this in our career planning article

Careers Questions Open Thread

This is a fantastic career plan! And thank you very much for your article on being an expert in hardware, that seemed like a really useful synthesis, and I imagine will be really valuable for others considering working in this area.

I don't have much to add because it seems like you're thinking all this through really carefully and have done a lot of research. A few thoughts:  

  • Application processes seem to me to have a lot of noise in them. So I wouldn't take a single rejection from AAAS as much evidence at all about you not being suited for policy.
  • There are a range of other policy options you might consider for testing this route, such as the Mirzayan Fellowship, which has the benefit of being just 12 weeks. Lots more eg Tech Congress and PMF described in this document
  • My impression is that it's easier to move from more to less technical roles than the reverse, which may point in favour of working for a year or two in industry before doing years in policy (although as a counter to that, some things like PMF are only an option up to ~2 years out of your degree)
  • AI Impacts might be another organisation to have on your radar for maybe doing a short project with to test non-technical work. 
10 Habits I recommend (2020)

Thanks for these! Added Ultralearning to my Audible wishlist. 


Re RSI, a colleague of mine shared the following note when some coworkers were struggling with it. They said they were happy for me to share it here, and I thought you might find it interesting and useful: 

"I have the view that a significant component of a lot of RSI is psychosomatic - and I’m quite confident that this was true in my case. That is, the way we relate to and think about it has a significant effect on how much the disease shows. 

To give a sense of what I mean here, think about all the people (including me) who had a bunch of coughing/breathlessness symptoms when they were worried about COVID, or consider how much paying attention to sensations in different ways can change their character. The extreme versions of this effect look like people having seizures (this is common enough that I’ve seen it in hospitals more than once) or being hypnotised. 

Some reasons I have this view:

  • When I had a really bad episode of it in 2017, it ended abruptly by my doctor (a hand surgeon) ruling out things they thought might be causing it, and then telling me to take lots of painkillers and just work through it. It disappeared after 2 weeks. That hand surgeon thought that there was a tricky balance between overuse and underuse syndromes, and thought I might have made it worse by not working with it. They did think that at the beginning something happened to my hands, but that I should have started treating them normally earlier than I did. 
  • It seems much more common in EAs than in other knowledge workers (except maybe programmers). I don’t recall ever seeing patients who have it, and none of my med school friends did. 

One tricky thing is that it pushes hard against the ‘pay lots of attention to whether you have symptoms, and if you do take them really seriously and don’t do any work’. I don’t really know what to do about that. I do think that it's probably harmful in some cases to take that attitude, but I'm not sure about the average case.

What to do about this? The main thing I’ve got in mind is for people to keep this as a perspective if they’re experiencing symptoms. You could try noticing what fraction of your symptoms are explained by this type of effect - I'm not sure how effective it would be. It would also point towards treating it more like standard psychosomatic illnesses are treated. 

A worry with sharing this thought is that it's really hard to know what to do with it. But I checked with a few people who all leaned towards thinking it was a good idea to share - so I’m doing so."


Also, I noticed I was excited when I saw you had left a bunch of comments on my articles, because your comments are always interesting and useful. Thank you for that!

10 Habits I recommend (2020)

Thanks - our Whatsapp group had been looking for a link which is always on! We'll check out Jitsi

10 things I bought and recommend (2020)

Thanks! I don't know how I didn't notice that tag.

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