Hi Ajeya, that’s a wonderful idea—I have a couple of questions below that are more about how you find working as a Senior Research Analyst and in this area:
What do you love about your role / work?
What do you dislike about your role / work?
What’s blocking you from having the impact you’d like to have?
What is the most important thing you did to get to where you are? (e.g., network, trying out lots of jobs / internships, continuity at one job, a particular a course etc.)
The thing I most love about my work is my relationships with my coworkers and manager; they are all deeply thoughtful, perceptive, and compassionate people who help me improve along lots of dimensions.
Like I discussed in the podcast, a demoralizing aspect of my work is that we’re often pursuing questions were deeply satisfying answers are functionally impossible and it’s extremely unclear when something is “done.” It’s easy to spend much longer on a project than you hoped, and to feel that you put in a lot of work to end up with an answer that’s still hopelessly subjective and extremely easy to disagree with.
I think I would do significantly better in my role if I were less sensitive about the possibility that someone (especially experts or fancy people) would think I’m dumb for missing some consideration, not having an excellent response to an objection, not knowing everything about a technical sub-topic, making a mistake, etc. It would allow me to make better judgment calls about when it’s actually worth digging into something more, and to write more freely without getting bogged down in figuring out exactly how to caveat something.
I think the most important thing I did before joining Open Phil was to follow GiveWell’s research closely and to attempt to digest EA concepts well enough to teach them to others; I think this helped me notice when there was a job opportunity at GiveWell and to perform well in the interview process. Once at Open Phil, I think it was good that I asked a lot of questions about everything and pretty consistently said yes to opportunities to work on something harder than what I had done before.
I’m also interested in hearing more of what Ajeya has to say on these questions.
People might also be interested in her answers to questions similar to at least the first and second of those questions on the 80k podcast, from around 2 hours 17 minutes onwards. (I also commented here about how parts of her answers resonated with my own experiences.)