Here are some of my thoughts on EA residencies/moving people into the full-time EA recruiting pipeline that I shared with Buck:
The primary bottlenecks preventing people (who are already interested in EA) from doing high-impact EA work full-time from what I’ve seen in no particular order (based on 2 years running Stanford EA and a few conversations with non-student EAs and community group leaders):
1. Full time EA work, and the transition required feels too costly (in terms of time, money, moving, social costs, preserving optionality, sunk cost fallacy, mental/physical energy, etc.) compared to the path of least resistance
2. Not having (or thinking they don’t have) the right skillset for high-impact EA work (specifically the paths that 80K recommends)
3. Lack of belief that they can be (really) impactful (not trying because why bother)/ High levels of uncertainty about whether investing the time to try to pursue EA work full-time will pan out. (This was really huge for me—once I updated towards thinking I could be impactful if I just tried really hard a lot of the other bottlenecks solved themselves somewhat).
4. Different models of the world (e.g. different credences for person affecting views, different cause prioritization, differing views on the importance of earning to give, relative impact of working on different cause areas, etc.)
5. Lack of clarity on how to progress/next steps
6. System 1 misalignment (Wanting to want to do impactful things in theory but in practice preferring other things for various reasons, some of which are listed above).
Prioritizing the Bottlenecks to address:
The time needed to successfully address each of these can be drastically different (at least this was the case for me, and I still grapple with a few of the above bottlenecks). Ability to move the needle on each of these probably varies a lot by person and the relationship between the EA resident and whomever they’re speaking to.
For example it might be hard for a stranger (the person doing the EA residency) to convince an interested EA that their specific skillset is actually valuable for EA, but it might be easier to clear up misunderstandings that lead to different world views (but even here the willingness of people to meaningfully update might depend a lot their relationship with the person). Although on the skillset front maybe listing what skills are needed for several kinds of important jobs, and which of these can be learned/developed with practice can give people a better sense of what might suit them, since it’s probably hard to learn enough about someone’s skillset from limited interactions/familiarity to give good personal advice.
This being said, I think that if you’re able to change someone’s mind about certain important things, other bottlenecks will resolve themselves (for example once my self-belief increased, I felt motivated to tackle my uncertainty about next steps and work on my career plan).
I think EAs with authority/clout/working at an EA org can particularly help with some of these - #2, 3, and 4 depending on how knowledgeable and good at communicating ideas they are (the resident EA). And #5 is also probably doable if you’re good at career-coaching/problem solving. It seems like being good at EA career coaching would be a really useful skill for someone doing an EA residency (good knowledge of EA landscape, what the gaps are, what skills are needed to fill the gaps, good at figuring out what someone’s skillset is, good at communicating, motivating people, etc).
Helping move the needle on 1 and 6 seem really important, and pretty time-intensive to change on average, and probably hard to do so predictably/reliably. It’s also unclear how much an EA residency can help with this. I don’t think it’s impossible but explicitly thinking about how to do this seems good. For example, reading Strangers Drowning and On Caring by Nate Soares really helped me with #6 and a few other serious EAs I know (at least 3 but I haven’t had this conversation with many people). Maybe certain types of conversations can also be reliably/reproducibly high impact.
It might be hard for an outsider to integrate into various social settings/I’m not sure realistically how much high-quality social interactions you’d be able to have during a residency, especially with students who are busy/not the best at managing time. I’d imagine planning sufficiently far enough in advance can help a lot with this. If you know/reach out to an organizer in the area you can coordinate with them to set up a bunch of 1:1s and group discussions with promising members.
I think these residencies could be really useful, especially in places where people don’t have access to full-time EAs very regularly (basically anywhere other than Oxford/London/Bay Area) to mobilize people, and help them see that doing EA work full-time (to be clear not necessarily at an EA org) is a real, viable option. The above points were just things to take into account to make the residencies go well.