Announcement: Join the EA Careers Advising Network!

post by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2019-03-17T20:40:04.956Z · score: 30 (30 votes) · EA · GW · 8 comments

Hi everyone! I have created surveys to match up effective altruists with more experience in their given careers as prospective advisors and mentors for students, or those just starting out in their careers. This will form an EA Careers Advising Network, that as it grows over time, will make it easier for more and more effective altruists to find in the community who can help them pursue the highest-impact career they can. The more people fill out the surveys, the easier it will be able to pair up advisees with advisors who are most suited to their needs. Please join this network if you'd like to be an EA careers advisor, or would like to receive guidance on pursuing a high-impact career!

I have also included sections to fill out if you want to participate in EA career advising/coaching in person in 95 cities in 24 countries around the world!

Advisor Survey: https://goo.gl/forms/xTHenJboQhjvKftV2

Advisee Survey: https://goo.gl/forms/E9Gzb0543Z6LZptx2

8 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Jan_Kulveit · 2019-03-19T21:51:44.064Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hi Evan, given that effective altruism is somewhat complex, how do you make sure the career advise given will be good? From the brief text, there does not seem to be

  • any quality control of advisors
  • any quality control of the advice given
  • any coordination with other people doing something similar, like local groups

Overall I like the general idea, but I'm worried about the execution.

What do you imagine as a worst-case failure scenario? I can easily imagine various viral headlines like

  • I applied for EA career advice and the advisor recommended me to donate a kidney! Scary!
  • EA coach made unwelcome sexual advances
  • EA advisor tried to recruit me for his ( dubious investment scheme / crypto startup / project to save the world by using psychedelics a lot / ...)

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2019-03-20T02:07:53.594Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I made a separate comment for my thoughts on worst-case scenarios, because I have a lot to say on the subject.

I imagine the worst-case scenario is something like an advisor giving radically bad career advice to numerous advisees based on idiosyncratic priorities or beliefs about their own field, and then advisees waste significant amounts of their own time or money acting on that feedback, when they could have easily spent those same resources better. Of course that already happens in EA [EA · GW]. So there already isn't enough quality control in EA for this kind of thing. That isn't to say I shouldn't try to ensure greater quality control in my own project, but it's important to know the pre-existing context in EA.

I should say one reason I haven't thought about worst-case scenarios you've brought up so far is because I've taken for granted they're unlikely to occur. It seems obvious to me people would tend to act in good faith if they were bothering to participate in this network, but even if they were to act in bad faith, anyone saying anything like your suggestions would disqualify them (in my eyes, at least) from participating as an advisor, for the simple reason none of those things have anything to do with careers.

If I include a survey, I definitely should include a feedback survey. I have intended to talk to 80,000 Hours to ask them questions about how they set up career coaching, and that will inform how I develop this network too. in the feedback survey for advisees I'll include a question about whether their coach did anything inappropriate, especially including trying to push the conversation in a direction that had nothing to do with trying to figure out their careers. If a career coach recommended someone donate a kidney, invest in a dubious crypto startup, or try saving the world by taking a bunch of psychedelics, that would get flagged, and they would be removed from the pool of prospective advisors.

At the same time, effective altruists have written blog posts on the EA Forum about how to donate kidneys, or recommend people do so. Getting recruited for weird projects can happen at EA events, including official ones like EAG events. I can definitely ask others how they've minimized the risk of strange things happening. Yet all throughout the small risk of these averse experiences persist. I know the point you were making wasn't about these specific examples, but my point is already in EA there is a small risk of things like this happening that are hard to eliminate. So I don't know why someone would single out a career advising network to exploit, and that this is of all things is likelier to produce viral headlines about how bad this is. It just seems so unlikely, I would feel strange introducing a quality control measure like having advisors click a box or sign a digital form saying they were aware they were only doing career advising, and not scamming advisees or something.

Again, I will include a quality feedback survey, so anything like this should get caught.

I do take seriously concerns of possible sexual harassment. It also seems strange to me that is as likely to happen over an online session, but I will ask other EA groups if there is anything I should do to minimize these kinds of risks in the advising network. That would also get including in a quality feedback survey. I'm unsure if I should include a separate ask about sexual harassment. This is something I will definitely think a lot more before I set up any in-person advising sessions. In general, it seems like there's a lot more risk with in-person advising sessions, so I will take longer to develop quality control measures before I set those up. By count, at most 18/71 possible pairings I could make now would result in in-person advising sessions. Chances are the number of in-person sessions it would make sense to set up at this point would be even lower still.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2019-03-20T01:47:32.271Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Maybe 'advisor' was the wrong word, and I should go with something like 'mentor.' Does 'mentor' connote something more casual, and does not claim to be the height of professionalism, while still aspiring to maintain quality moreso than 'advisor?'

At any rate to respond to your points, I intend to implement the following:

  • A quality feedback survey for people's experience with this system.
  • A short guide pointing advisors and advisees to relevant, pre-existing EA career resources as a primer before calls begin (e.g., an email recommending potential advisors to read 80,000 Hours career profile relevant to the professional or research field they wish to advise upon.)

Re: coordinating with local groups: to my knowledge, most university and local EA groups don't have an ongoing system for careers advising, but only do one-off workshops. In trying to implement this system, I've already run into a couple local groups who do already have an ongoing system for careers workshops, and believe their infrastructure is sufficient in place of the one I'm trying to build. Otherwise, the goal is to coordinate with local groups to build such infrastructure insofar as it's effective to do so. I have already sent these surveys to dozens of Facebook groups for local EA groups, so I am in contact with every local EA group with any local EA groups that are doing something similar. Since effective altruists tend to be disproportionately concentrated in places like the Bay Area, there was a significant chance advisors and advisees would be able to meet in person. A couple people suggested I include an option for meeting in-person. That introduces a dimension of matching people I haven't thought through as much. Thus far, it appears the vast majority of matches will be online, which is something I feel more prepared for. So I've included local match-ups as an option, but I'm unsure if they'll turn out to be much of a factor.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2019-03-20T02:07:52.002Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I made a separate comment for my thoughts on worst-case scenarios, because I have a lot to say on the subject.

I imagine the worst-case scenario is something like an advisor giving radically bad career advice to numerous advisees based on idiosyncratic priorities or beliefs about their own field, and then advisees waste significant amounts of their own time or money acting on that feedback, when they could have easily spent those same resources better. Of course that already happens in EA [EA · GW]. So there already isn't enough quality control in EA for this kind of thing. That isn't to say I shouldn't try to ensure greater quality control in my own project, but it's important to know the pre-existing context in EA.

I should say one reason I haven't thought about worst-case scenarios you've brought up so far is because I've taken for granted they're unlikely to occur. It seems obvious to me people would tend to act in good faith if they were bothering to participate in this network, but even if they were to act in bad faith, anyone saying anything like your suggestions would disqualify them (in my eyes, at least) from participating as an advisor, for the simple reason none of those things have anything to do with careers.

If I include a survey, I definitely should include a feedback survey. I have intended to talk to 80,000 Hours to ask them questions about how they set up career coaching, and that will inform how I develop this network too. in the feedback survey for advisees I'll include a question about whether their coach did anything inappropriate, especially including trying to push the conversation in a direction that had nothing to do with trying to figure out their careers. If a career coach recommended someone donate a kidney, invest in a dubious crypto startup, or try saving the world by taking a bunch of psychedelics, that would get flagged, and they would be removed from the pool of prospective advisors.

At the same time, effective altruists have written blog posts on the EA Forum about how to donate kidneys, or recommend people do so. Getting recruited for weird projects can happen at EA events, including official ones like EAG events. I can definitely ask others how they've minimized the risk of strange things happening. Yet all throughout the small risk of these averse experiences persist. I know the point you were making wasn't about these specific examples, but my point is already in EA there is a small risk of things like this happening that are hard to eliminate. So I don't know why someone would single out a career advising network to exploit, and that this is of all things is likelier to produce viral headlines about how bad this is. It just seems so unlikely, I would feel strange introducing a quality control measure like having advisors click a box or sign a digital form saying they were aware they were only doing career advising, and not scamming advisees or something.

Again, I will include a quality feedback survey, so anything like this should get caught.

I do take seriously concerns of possible sexual harassment. It also seems strange to me that is as likely to happen over an online session, but I will ask other EA groups if there is anything I should do to minimize these kinds of risks in the advising network. That would also get including in a quality feedback survey. I'm unsure if I should include a separate ask about sexual harassment. This is something I will definitely think a lot more before I set up any in-person advising sessions. In general, it seems like there's a lot more risk with in-person advising sessions, so I will take longer to develop quality control measures before I set those up. By count, at most 18/71 possible pairings I could make now would result in in-person advising sessions. Chances are the number of in-person sessions it would make sense to set up at this point would be even lower still.

comment by toonalfrink · 2019-03-21T04:23:15.863Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hey, this is great! I'm not sure for which role I should apply. Do you have some definition of what makes a proper advisor? How many years of experience? What level of investment? Or shall I just write my own hero license?

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2019-03-21T17:24:54.550Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

If you've been working in the field you're currently in for several years, and have a good handle on how to make career transitions, you're probably good. A lot of this will be either students asking what major they should select, what grad school people will go to, or what are the first jobs out of school they should apply to. I'll also match advisees and advisors up based on their needs and advantages, so as long as you feel out the survey in detail, I should be able to match you up with someone you can help well.

comment by gibsonguy46 · 2019-07-28T13:22:19.060Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

How long does it typically take to get a response after submitting an advisee survey?