What I learnt from attending EAGx Oxford (as someone who's new to EA)post by Olivia Addy · 2022-04-02T19:49:38.256Z · EA · GW · 16 comments
Last wekeend, I attended my first ever EA conference, EAGx in Oxford. I wanted to share my thoughts on what was good, what was not so good, and what I'd do differently next time.
For context, I haven't been involved in EA for long (around 7 months) and this was my first time doing anything EA related in person. I work in communications for a housing association (aka not an EA org) and went in with the mindset of just wanting to see what it was like, I didn't really have many expectations, which as I'll get to, was probably to my detriment.
I think most people like reading concise writing, so I'll bullet point:
- I learnt a lot and some of the talks I went to were really high quality, the speakers gave a lot of great info in a short time frame. My favourites were 'What we're learning about spreading EA ideas' by Grace Adams of Giving What We Can and 'Introduction to sustainable proteins' by Seren Kell of The Good Food Insitute.
- Being surrounded, and getting to talk to, people who share the same passion as you (making the world a better place). You don't often come across people in daily life who care so much about this.
- The swapcard app was really great, it was super easy to use and find people on.
- The venue was in a good central location and was just a lovely place to spend the weekend.
- I really appreciated that the food was vegan, as to me it shows that EA is serious about doing the most good and thinks about this even in regards to small details like catering.
- The chill out and nap room was really great to have to go to when you had a free half an hour just for a bit of time out. As an introvert, this really helped me recharge throughout the weekend.
- It left me feeling good and with a new sense of confidence, excited to see where I could head in the EA world.
The not so good
- I wish there had been a bit more about 'how to do EA conferences' beforehand as I feel like it was only the day before the conference that I found out that the aim is mostly to do lots of 1-1's. I filled up my schedule with talks and workshops which I don't necessarily regret as they were informative, but I think there's a possibility I would have got more out of chucking in a few more 1-1's in here and there. This is maybe on me for not doing enough research beforehand, but I almost wish there had been a how-to guide. The 1-1's I did do were really valuable.
- It would have been great if there were some more networking opportunites for those who are new to EA and haven't met anyone in person and aren't quite sure exactly which direction they're headed in yet. I attended the conference alone, and as I alluded to earlier, I just sort of wanted to get an idea of what it was like being in that environment. I know there were a few meet ups for other groups such as religious EA's, it would be great if there had been something like 'lonely and new meetup'?
- I felt like the talks/workshops were a bit variable in their quality, with some being really great and others feeling less well-prepared and informative.
- There was milk in one of the snacks so not technically vegan :(
What I'd do differently
- Prepare a lot more.
- I did somewhat prep. I wrote what would be a good outcome, what would be a great outcome and what would be a mindblowing outcome. I felt as though I came out with a 'great outcome'. I defined this as coming out of the weekend inspired, with more direction in my career, and one connection which would sustain beyond the conference (probably a low bar for those of you who were doing twenty 1-1's each day).
- But after meeting people at the conference and reading about their experiences, such as this one [EA · GW], I realise I could have prepped a lot better. I would definitely carve out more time for 1-1's and think a bit more about who it would be valuable for me to meet.
- Be a bit more brave about approaching people. It can be really hard to just strike up a conversation sometimes, but when I did it almost always went great.
So that's my thoughts on my first ever EAGx conference. Overall a great experience and I'm looking forward to the next one I can go too.
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