Careers Questions Open Thread

Hi everyone,

Many people in EA aren’t able to get as much career advice as they’d like, while at the same time, hundreds of EAs are happy to provide informal advice and mentoring within their career area.

Much of what we do in our one-on-one advice at 80,000 Hours is try to connect these two groups, but we’re not able to cover a significant number of people. At the same time, spaces like the EA careers discussion FB group don’t seem to have taken off as a place where people get concrete advice.

As an experiment, I thought we could try having an open career questions thread on the Forum.

By posting a reply here, anyone can post a question about their career, without having to make a top level post, and anyone on the forum can write an answer.

If it works well, we could do it each month or so.

To get things going, some of the 80,000 Hours team will be available from Monday onwards to write quick answers to topics they have views on (in an individual capacity rather than representing our official view), though our hope is that others will get involved.

For those with questions, I could imagine those ranging from high-level to practical:

  • I’m trying to choose whether to focus on global health or climate change, how should I decide?

  • I can either accept this job offer or go to graduate school, which seems best?

  • Which skills should I focus on learning in my spare time?

  • Where can I learn more about how to interview for jobs in policy?

I’m especially keen to see questions from people who haven’t posted much before.

The answers to your questions will probably be more useful if you can share a bit of background, though feel free to skip if it’ll prevent you from asking at all! You can also skip if you’re asking a very general question.

Here’s a short template to provide background – feel free to pick whichever parts seem most useful as context:

  • Which 2-5 problem areas do you intend to focus on?

  • What ideas for longer-term roles do you have?

  • What do you see as your strengths & most valuable career capital?

  • Some key facts on your experience /​ qualifications /​ achievements (or a link to your LinkedIn profile if you’re comfortable linking your name to the question).

  • Any important personal constraints to keep in mind (e.g. tied to a certain location)

  • What 2-5 next career moves are you considering? (i.e. specific jobs or educational opportunities you might take)

If you want to do a longer version, you could use our worksheet.

Just please bear in mind this will all be public on the internet for the long term. Don’t post things you wouldn’t want future employers to see, unless using an anonymous account. Even being frank about the pros and cons of different jobs can easily look bad.

As a reminder, we have more resources to help you write out and clarify your plan here.

For those responding to questions, bear in mind this thread might attract people who are newer to the forum, and careers can be a personal subject, so try to keep it friendly.

I’m looking forward to your questions and seeing how the thread unfolds!

Update 21 Dec: Thank you everyone for the questions and responses! The 80k team won’t be able to post much more until Jan, but we’ll try to respond after that.