Wesley Garner

Topic Contributions

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Federal Government Consulting as a Career Path for Effective Altruists

Of course! 

Unsolicited advice:

If this post convinces you to explore this path, I would prepare a resume and start messaging managers on LinkedIn  because companies are struggling to hire. It’s such a workers’ market right now. 
 

I’d say that 80k’s guide to consulting and other materials in this forum on professional correspondence would be valuable in terms of approach, even if they aren’t geared towards federal work specifically.

Federal Government Consulting as a Career Path for Effective Altruists

Happy to help! I have not earned an MPP [yet], so I cannot speak from first hand experience, but I have worked with, under, and over people with them. The frameworks you learn in graduate school will definitely make you more analytical and let you earn a higher salary. I am somewhat skeptical of whether MPP courses themselves teach you to be a "better" federal contractor. I suspect it would be helpful in the way that I found undergrad helpful: My coursework on international relations theory doesn't have offer me any helpful topic knowledge at all, but learning to think broadly and conceptually about different points of view is immensely valuable. 

 

Maybe MPP coursework's do shine in harder technical skills, like financial modeling, which might help on some niche federal contracts. The federal reserve and DFC love CFAs, for example. I can't say for sure.

Tips for asking people for things

Ben: Your pivot to office hours at EAGx was ideal, in part because those who might have asked general questions could get them answered simultaneously with others asking the same questions. Thanks for answering mine.

Let me abstract on office hours for these events, as a retrospective: Many of my one-on-ones had the same attributes, where I felt I was giving specific, non-obvious advice but I was repeating myself at each one. If I had held office hours I might have saved a lot of my time and helped more people.

Part of it might well be status related, and I don’t mean that negatively — I am not a C-suite exec, so maybe hosting office hours is not expected of me, whereas it makes sense for you or others.

This conference in particular seemed skewed towards undergrads, which is great, but it also means my answers ended up being more uniform than they would have been otherwise. My solution is to draft a forum post on what I do and whether it’s “effective” and I can share it with anyone who reaches out to me as a primer in advance of a 1 on 1

EA and Global Poverty. Let's Gather Evidence

The below statement is anecdotal; I think it's hard to have a fact-based argument without clear/more up-to-date survey data.

The EA movement includes an increasing number of extreme long-termists (i.e., we should care about the trillions of humans who come after us rather than the 7 billion alive now). If AI development happens even in the next 200 years (and not 20) then we would still want to prioritize that work, per a long-termist framework. 

I also find the above logic unsettling; there's a long philosophical argument to be had regarding what to prioritize and when, and even if we should prioritize broad topic areas like these. 

A general critique of utilitarianism is that without bounds, it results in some extreme recommendations. 

There are also weighing arguments -- "we can't have a long term without a short term" and more concretely "people whose lives are saved now, discounted to the present, have significant power because they can help us steer the most important century in a positive direction."