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Sam Anschell

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Mathias, I hope you feel proud of what you did at CEAP. I have a lot of respect for the thought and effort you put into this project, and I thought your decisionmaking was well-reasoned throughout. A number of people in the field and at CE have told me they feel the same way.

Running an organization with such a broad remit and weak feedback loops is a challenge. Doing so by yourself with waning morale is an uphill battle. You were in a tough position and I thought you handled it well. And as Jason wrote, you may have had more success developing Dutch, Danish, and British champions than you know.

I’m looking forward to following what you do next :)

Thanks for asking, and I want to caveat again that this is not intended as financial advice. 

Unfortunately I think relatively little of this material would be relevant outside the US. The section on finding fee-for-service financial professionals is probably helpful across borders, but the rest of the post is based on US tax laws.

Thanks for writing this, Elijah. I agree that it’s really difficult to get an “EA job” (it took me five years). I wish this felt more normalized, and that there was better scoped advice on what EA jobseekers should do. I wrote about this last year and included a section on ways to contribute directly to EA projects even without an EA job. I'd also recommend Aaron Gertler's post on recovering from EA job rejection, probably my favorite ever EA Forum post.

On Aaron Bergman's comment about finding a higher paying role, certain tipped positions can be surprisingly lucrative and require very little training. Dealing poker pays $40-60/hour (tips + min wage) in the Seattle area, and I’ve heard that some high stakes baccarat dealing jobs in the greater Seattle area pay $200-400k/year (also tips + min wage) for 40 hour weeks. I imagine bartending jobs at pricey/busy bars would be a similar story, as would waiting tables at expensive restaurants (perhaps an upscale vegetarian/vegan spot).

You may find that substitute teaching and working special education students is more fulfilling than these types of jobs; I think it was a great decision to withdraw your application from a job that may have triggered loneliness-induced depression. You shouldn’t feel compelled to take a job you’ll dislike in order to give more, but hopefully there are small steps you can take to grow your lifetime impact without sacrificing your happiness. Some ideas could be:

  • Looking at higher education, certifications, coding bootcamps, training programs or apprenticeships to have a better shot at more lucrative or impactful work.
    • It may be tough to afford the fees or time off work right now. If so, consider investing in yourself by saving up some money you would have donated. In expectation, you’ll be able to help more animals in the long run by doing so.   
       
  • Reaching out to Probably Good or 80,000 hours for careers advising. It’s completely OK if this doesn’t lead to a career call, it's still a good idea to apply in expectation.
     
  • Talking to friends and family who have jobs or connections to jobs you would be interested in and seeing what they’d recommend.

You might set a goal of making a little progress each month, be that applying to a few jobs, asking for advice from other EAs, or getting closer to a new skill or credential, as an intermediate step to growing the impact you'll be able to have five years from now. If you want someone to spitball with to kick things off, I'm happy to be that person https://calendly.com/sam-anschell/30min

Careers are long, and the impact one can have at the beginning of their career is usually a rounding error compared to what they can do later in their career anyway. I hope you remain ambitious about the difference you can make for animals, and proud of the good you've already done :)

Thank you for this thoughtful comment, Tyler - I appreciate your perspective and I think it will help readers improve their decision-making. 

On point 1: I suspect this is less true for entry level roles, especially those that don’t specify an advanced degree or technical skill requirement. But it’s valuable to know that this was your experience when reviewing applications, and this updates my opinion.

On point 2: I agree there are more early career EAs looking for EA jobs than entry level EA job openings at any given time, but I disagree with the conclusion that early career EAs should apply to fewer EA jobs.

  • It seems hard to get the same level of mentorship, relevant skills, at most “non-EA” orgs. If you’re working as e.g. an SWE for FAANG, your employer’s incentives are to invest in your professional development insofar as that increases your productivity and job satisfaction (for retention). If you’re working as e.g. a researcher for the Center for Global Development, your employer’s incentives are to invest in your professional development to maximize your lifetime impact on your & CGD’s shared mission (agnostic as to whether you achieve that impact while working at CGD or elsewhere). 
     
  • You might be a great culture fit, or have a particularly relevant background that headhunters or EA orgs wouldn’t know about unless you actively apply.
     
  • Of the current entry level roles on 80k’s job board, there are a pretty diverse array of functions. I agree that applying to all 224 wouldn’t be a good use of time, but regularly checking back in and applying to promising leads seems like a good idea to me (especially keeping an eye out for jobs matching any specialized background/knowledge base you might have, like in policy, academia, development economics, ML, infectious disease, etc.)
     
    I personally made the mistake of applying to a bunch of stuff all at once, feeling disappointed about not getting anything, and giving up until I felt motivated to apply again later. I think I should have applied consistently and internalized that the EV of an application working out (in my opinion) makes the application process worth it. 

    The post and this comment each have the tacit asterisk that individuals' situations are unique, and that I'd be excited for the hypothetical average early-career reader to apply for more EA jobs/get more involved with EA projects on the margin. Some people don't have the time/financial runway to apply for lots of jobs or volunteer for EA projects, and I hope my advice isn't perceived as one-size-fits-all.

On point 3: Couldn’t agree more :) 

I know 80k used to recommend careers in management consulting pretty strongly for skill development, and these days my read is that they’re starting to recommend more “direct work” roles right away. I’d love to learn 80k's current view, and I would recommend that a reader weight the perspectives of the professionals (those with recruiting/hiring experience like Tyler, and those who research the EA job landscape like 80k) much stronger than my perspective when deciding what makes most sense for their personal career circumstances. 

I love the spirit of this post and I agree with almost everything Charles said. My only difference of opinion is that I don't think people are taxed on gift income, so long as a giver provides under $16,000 in a year to any single individual and under $12.06MM in their lifetime. Letting participants keep the tax savings could be a polite way to compensate them for their involvement without dampening their altruistic glow.

I'd be excited by a project that explored surrogate donation from employees of these companies to multiply the impact of our giving. I expect the cap on Meta's Giving Tuesday match will barely scratch the surface of EAs' personal donations this year. My preliminary thoughts to scale this idea would be:

  • Learn  the fine print of the programs. Some employers explicitly disallow donating money that is given to an employee for this purpose.
  • Try to form a nuanced understanding of the long term incidence of doing this. I imagine many companies would discontinue or scale back their charity benefits if it was exploited in this way. 
    I suspect that it would still be net good because of which charities would get bonus funding, but companies price in the fact that most employees don't utilize donation matching & I suspect they would adjust their offering if it were used more.
  • Focus on employees of companies with the most generous matches first. Possibly establish a fund where EAs could pool their money and funnel them through each surrogate donor to max out the donor's gift cap.
     

I want to reiterate what Charles said about disassociating this from EA, and I recommend speaking to a(t least one) lawyer before making any moves. This feels like the type of ends-justifying-means action that is righteous in intent, but underhanded in public appearance.  


Feel free to reply here or PM me if you'd like to flesh this out. I think it's a great idea, thanks for sharing!

Thank you for the thoughtful writeup! I knew very little about PhD programs before coming across this post - now I feel like I have the lay of the land :) 

It seems like the GRE isn't a dealbreaker for getting a PhD, but for anyone interested in 80/20'ing their GRE prep I'll shamelessly bump my GRE advice post (thanks to Robi Rahman for his help)!

To me it seems likely that the majority of good opportunities will still be around in June. If there is something like $7,500 promo EV up for grabs in NJ now, I would estimate with 70% certainty there will be more than $4,000 promo EV by June. 

One wrinkle I want to make sure you're aware of is that creating, funding, betting with, and withdrawing from ~ 17 accounts will take a significant amount of time and needs to happen over the span of at least 4 days (for your promo credit to post, and for any withdrawal follow-ups to register. I recommend staying for 5+ days and starting this process the day you arrive.) 

My best guess is that having never done this, you'll need to spend 15 hours to complete every worthwhile promo. If you've got a full schedule on your NYC trip (especially including time commuting to/from NJ), it may be best to schedule a separate trip. If you have some time but not the full 15 hours, maybe the best course of action is to do only the best offers and accept higher variance with a smaller sample size. 

Thank you Vivian, you're absolutely right. I'll update the "qualifiers to participate" section to make this much clearer, especially for participants living in states with a small number of legalized online sports books. 

Strange, I was able to withdraw to a debit card or through PlayPlus (which I can then transfer to a bank account). Your withdrawal options may vary depending on what method you use to deposit. 

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