Tilly P

Policy advisor @ Civil Service (UK)
38 karmaJoined Jul 2022Working (0-5 years)



Graduate policy advisor in the civil service (UK). Previously did a PhD in nutrition.

How others can help me

Give me tips about how I can accrue good policy career capital in order to pivot into an EA-aligned policy area after completing my grad scheme. I would consider leaving the CS for a good role - potentially in writing, project management or operations.

How I can help others

Talk to me about doing a PhD/academia, making career 'mistakes' and how to recover, and/or starting your career later than most


Thanks Luise, a lot of what you said resonates with me, as someone who feels tired up to 50% of the time. I know my sleep is also sensitive to disturbance (e.g. I hardly ever sleep, or sleep well, if I have to travel for work). I particularly liked where you said you always felt you had to be doing something 'productive' even in your free time - that was me for a long time too. Rather than seeing it as a sin, I now permit myself to watch some trashy TV in the evenings as it helps me to tune out, relax and not be so hard on myself. +1 for appendix!

Thanks for writing this, it was incredibly insightful. I was essentially looking for this very article a couple of weeks ago as I felt frustrated that most websites seemed to just give short bullet points about generic ADHD symptoms rather than talk about the experience of it and its impacts. 

I was going for catchy but clearly in the wrong way (and with poor timing) !

Thanks for your comment and sharing your story. I understand what you mean about EA making you feel worse - making your comparison group extremely smart people can further diminish confidence in one's abilities.

I would say getting your self-worth back is definitely career capital, or can be viewed as something that will make you much more effective in the long term compared with if you'd stayed in the mental state you felt prior to this job. Your temporary job will have been a lot more 'useful' than mine was (trust me on this) and it doesn't mean it was devoid of developing your soft skills and confidence.

I'm glad you've found a job you're now happy with. My new job will probably have minimal impact too for the first few years while I train and am a more junior member of staff. But try to retain some optimism - assuming you're not much older than I am, even if AI takes over there will be some way to have impact - I very much hope! Like with action to target climate change, feeling all is doom can equal inaction.

Thanks for your comment, and that's a fair point/critique - I agree about impact through academia being slow. However, at this stage it's pretty difficult to plan for what jobs you should be training for if AI replaces your current role, so it still makes sense to do something that broadly expands your career capital as you state, whether this is a PhD or something else. I would have thought the likelihood of an X-risk happening within the time you do your PhD is probably quite small, but I'll leave the quantification to the experts! AI is probably least likely to impact some more practical and non-academic roles so this could be an argument for gaining career capital outside of the knowledge sector (e.g. see this Times article: bit.ly/3M8Utpr). I didn't know the Bing AI had been rolled out yet - I'll have to give that a try and I'm curious how it will develop over time, and how quickly - and whether it will make my new job quicker and/or ultimately replace me or some of the workforce.

Damn, I forgot it was April Fool's day. This is not a joke post, in case anyone was unsure(!)

I don't know if replying to this thread after a couple of weeks is against the forum rules, as I've not posted on the forum before, but I have followed EA from a distance for a few years and completely agree with the OP. Well done for being brave enough to write about this, because I also felt similarly "dumb", while on paper, I know that I shouldn't be! I'm doing a PhD but it is not in a directly-EA related field/subject and I have not been to the highest ranking universities you mention. A lot of the very philosophical and computational stuff on here goes over my head. Ideally, I would like to find an EA-aligned role after my PhD, but I've accepted that either this will have to be a more operations-based role, rather than a research one, or maybe I will go down the earning to give route (again, once I am financially stable - another important point you raised). I think we need to stay as strong and confident in our own abilities as we can; staying curious about new topics while perhaps also making peace with when we can't always understand everything. What I like to think is that while e.g. a computer scientist may be amazing when it comes to machine learning, I may be better at writing or science communication, for instance. I don't mean to stereotype or denigrate anyone by saying this - it's just an example - but OP, you likely have many brilliant skills that would be an asset to EA, but perhaps in a less traditional sense. I always remember reading that one of the biggest impact things you can do is be an assistant to the director of an organisation, as it will enable them to work more effectively. So there are ways of having impact, even indirectly.