AMA: We organize EA Anywhere. Ask Us Anything! 2021-08-08T23:30:39.116Z
EA Anywhere: A Year in Review 2021-08-08T23:30:20.140Z
AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. 2021-02-03T20:14:39.415Z
What are some historical examples of people and organizations who've influenced people to do more good? 2020-04-11T21:44:11.969Z
Advice for getting the most out of one-on-ones 2020-03-21T02:20:40.421Z
A Qualitative Analysis of Value Drift in EA 2020-02-12T05:41:41.804Z
What social movements can EA be compared to? 2019-06-11T23:57:30.187Z
Is value drift net-positive, net-negative, or neither? 2019-05-04T22:01:50.594Z


Comment by MarisaJurczyk on EA Anywhere: A Year in Review · 2021-08-11T20:45:55.699Z · EA · GW

There is! Linked it in the last point now too, thanks!

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We organize EA Anywhere. Ask Us Anything! · 2021-08-11T02:58:41.015Z · EA · GW

Actually in the very early days of EA Anywhere, I toyed with the idea of having a separate student sub-group in part for this purpose (and for university students without EA groups). I dropped it partially for capacity reasons and partially because there didn't seem like much demand for it, but I'd be excited about this being part of our expansion with our new organizer. 

I see EA Anywhere as a good supplement to small groups. While we advertise as "a local group for people without local groups", I think it makes a lot of sense to also work with group organizers and members from groups that are too small to warrant larger events, or with organizers that are too time-poor to run events often.

I also think this could fit well into the local group incubation pipeline we've considered. There's a cycle that's hard to break out of with small groups -- if an event is so small that it's not valuable, then less people come, then it gets smaller, then it's even less valuable, etc. (Of course small events can be valuable if the chemistry is right with the group, but that can take a long time to facilitate.) A virtual group like EA Anywhere could potentially break groups out of that cycle by bringing in more people and ideally creating more interesting discussions from that.

Having graduated from university just before the pandemic I don't have a sense of how interested students will be in Zoom meetings and the like in future years, which is one uncertainty I have, but I think it's unlikely that this will be a major issue. 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We organize EA Anywhere. Ask Us Anything! · 2021-08-11T02:47:35.451Z · EA · GW

Agree with Sami's comment below. Virtual events are certainly a good way to get people from more isolated parts of the region engaged, but if 90% of the attendees already know each other from in-person events, that may be even more isolating. I suspect this is fairly easy to mitigate though if the organiser is conscientious about it.

It might be worth connecting them with other virtual communities too. Besides us, there are lots of virtual groups popping up (Giving What  We Can, EA for Christians, EA for Jews, the EA Hispanic group, EA Consulting, Effective Animal Advocacy, etc.) which might be good for getting people engaged if your group doesn't run virtual events very often. (FWIW they are also very welcome to get involved with EA Anywhere - we have some members in metro areas of local groups but who are just too far away to come to most in-person events.)

I think a lot of this will also be case-by-case depending on where the person is in their EA involvement, and a lot of those rules won't be that much different from engaging someone who's not in an isolated area. It's mostly a matter of making sure the usual pathways through "the funnel" are accessible to them, even if they aren't able to attend in-person events.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Should EAs in the U.S. focus more on federal or local politics? · 2021-05-06T02:12:46.770Z · EA · GW

I started to write a more thorough response to this but realized I was essentially copying Rethink Priorities' post on Ballot Initiatives, which covers a lot of EA causes with high leverage at the local/state level.

Two popular EA causes that I think are missing:

  • Climate change interventions
  • UBI (difficult, but not impossible to enact at the state level in the US because states can't deficit spend. See Alaska as an example)
Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Running an AMA on the EA Forum · 2021-02-18T21:24:19.942Z · EA · GW

I had similar concerns about our Operations AMA recently. It wasn't wildly popular, but we got 7 questions and I still felt like it was a good use of my time. Several people in the group said they really enjoyed it and would be interested in doing another one, and I liked it enough that I'm planning to do another AMA for one of my other projects as well. 

I'll also mention that it's a (relatively) low-effort way to create content (and get karma, if you care). I often feel like I should post to the Forum more but either don't feel like I have anything worth posting, or don't have the time to write anything out, but the nice thing about AMAs is that you don't have to come up with a novel topic that fits neatly into a typical EA Forum post, and the standard for quality as far as formatting/organization/etc. is lower.

The only downsides of posting that I see is time spent on creating the post (I estimate we collectively spent about an hour on this, though I think you could do a less detailed one in 15 minutes), and I suppose the possible embarrassment of not getting asked any questions, but I think this is unlikely (I don't think it's ever happened on the Forum), and you can always delete the post if you're really concerned about that.

FWIW I think you'd be well-suited to do an AMA :)

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. · 2021-02-06T01:17:32.298Z · EA · GW

How can experienced EA groups best provide organizational support for new/small ones?

I consider myself a new organizer so I don’t have much to add here other than a) one-on-ones, and b) sharing systems etc. that work for you (e.g. for tracking attendance, advertising, workshops). I think every new group is going to have different questions and different needs so I suspect there’s not a one-size-fits-all formula, which is why I think one-on-ones with organizers can be especially helpful, since you can gauge their bottlenecks and help brainstorm solutions.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. · 2021-02-06T01:15:38.605Z · EA · GW

What relatively low-cost things can leadership do, if any, that go far in improving new team members’ (especially volunteers’) morale/engagement/commitment/initiative?

A few things come to mind: 

1) Be an understanding, compassionate human. It sounds easy but I (and I think many others) actually suck at this once you bring important projects with deadlines into the mix. If someone doesn’t do things on time, it’s easy for me to get frustrated with them, but as a student leader I wish I would have reached out to people who were dropping balls and actually tried to work with them to see where they were at and how I could help rather than assuming they were lazy or disorganized. This sounds higher-cost but I think it actually saves time in the long-run if you can set up your team members to run things themselves without management having to pick up all the dropped balls.

2) Provide channels for feedback (and actually act on it). Whether that’s a time during your meetings, a channel in Slack, or an anonymous suggestion box (physical or virtual), I think one of the biggest morale killers is built up resentment about a thing being done less-than-optimally when no one seems interested in fixing that thing. 

I think it’s worth noting that from my experiences in volunteer management, I expect to have a certain number of people who join and then drop-off/ghost after a while. (For me it’s almost exactly 10% within the first month or so each time, and then the number goes towards 25-50% over a year depending on the situation.) This is completely normal, especially in university as people go on to explore other clubs or take on internships or get hit with heavier coursework. Don’t stress over these people: it’s better for them to be honest with you about their commitments than to push them to take on more responsibility than they have time for.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. · 2021-02-06T01:10:18.197Z · EA · GW

How can EA groups grow their teams and activities while maintaining good team coordination and management?

Short answer: Asana. Long answer: Clearly define everyone’s roles and responsibilities and delegate wherever you can. As you get bigger you’ll probably want to have something like a traditional management structure, where e.g. the President oversees four committees, and each committee is run by one person, rather than one giant executive board. That way the President doesn’t have to keep track of every little thing that’s happening. This works best if you have a lot of people who are interested in helping out and are actually responsible. 

Also: be realistic about what you can accomplish. If you don’t have enough people/capacity to do a thing well, it’s not worth trying to do the thing mediocre-ly. 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. · 2021-02-06T01:09:12.920Z · EA · GW

Fellow group organizer here! (and former uni club leader, though not for an EA group) Honestly I don't think there were that many specific skills I learned from operations that helped me in group organizing, but rather it was the general operations mindset, which to me involves: a) noticing when things aren't running smoothly as they can be (for me this is feels like a special kind of stress, and if I'm not careful, my brain directs the blame towards other people involved in the system rather than the system itself), and b) trying things, whether that be new management structures, different software tools, etc. In particular I've found that familiarity with tools like Airtable, Slack, and Asana has been helpful for group organizing but you can probably find resources for that on the EA Hub.

I'll answer the rest of your questions separately. 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. · 2021-02-06T00:21:38.301Z · EA · GW

how difficult is it to get a position doing operations work for an EA org, especially if you have some but not tonnes of operations experience? 

For a long time I would discourage people from going into operations unless I (or they) had reason to think they're an especially good fit because I thought it was difficult to get in (mostly based on reading this post, and my assumption that operations roles have looser requirements than other roles, so more people tend to apply).

However, at recent EA conferences I've talked to a lot of people interested in operations, and over a six month time frame, I tend to find that almost all of them that continue to actively look for work in operations find it. 

Like Martin and Amrit said, a lot of these positions go unadvertised. Of our current staff at RC, none of us formally applied for our roles. Two of us are former volunteers, one is a former contractor, and two are people our staff/former staff knew from working together at other organizations who were asked if they wanted to be on our team, without a formal hiring round. It's not impossible to get a job by applying directly - in fact, if you have demonstrated interest in EA, I think you have a good chance at at least making it through the first round of applications - but you'll likely have more luck by being proactive with a few organizations that you're especially interested in working at. 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on AMA: We Work in Operations at EA-aligned organizations. Ask Us Anything. · 2021-02-06T00:08:23.766Z · EA · GW

is there currently a need for more operations people in EA orgs?

I've heard differing opinions on this from different organizations, and I think this is in large part because different organizations have different standards for operations hires. 

For example, an organization that thinks that having an EA-aligned hire is important and is looking for someone with significant nonprofit/operations experience will have a more difficult time filling a role than an organization that's just looking for someone with certain soft skills (e.g. problem solving, learning quickly, etc.). I think EA organizations tend to lean towards being more relaxed about their requirements, especially for junior roles, which is why it isn't as hard for them to find operations hires. 

That said, I think that having less strict hiring standards can lead to less-than-optimal hires, so even if there isn't as much need  per se for operations people, you can still have a big impact here if you're an especially good fit. I've heard of some complaints about high turnover in operations roles (senior roles can be very stressful since you're juggling quite a big, while junior roles can be boring since you'll end up doing a good deal of admin work), so if you're reasonably confident that you have the personality to stick with operations for a long time, you can have more impact by acquiring more skills and preventing your organization from having to do another costly hire a few years down the road. Similarly, people who have special skills (e.g. technical knowledge for automation, bookkeeping, HR, knack for organization, etc.) could have a higher counterfactual impact in an operations role.

So tl;dr, yeah, we probably technically don't need more operations people, but that doesn't mean you can't have an impact working in operations.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on A Qualitative Analysis of Value Drift in EA · 2020-12-28T20:01:58.019Z · EA · GW

Thanks! I absolutely agree. I don't think that EAs should surround themselves with only EAs in the name of preventing value drift (this seems borderline cult-like to me), but I think having people in one's social circle who care about doing good, regardless of whether in the EA sense or not, seems like a good idea, for the reason you mentioned, and because I think there are things EAs can learn from non-EAs about doing good in the world. 

(Also, non-EAs can make good friends regardless of their ability to contribute to your impact or not. :) )

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Careers Questions Open Thread · 2020-12-14T03:08:45.315Z · EA · GW

Agree with these. I'll also throw in Carnegie Mellon's Public Policy and Data Analytics program.

McCourt, Harris, and Heinz (at CMU) are essentially the top three schools offering this track from what I can tell. 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Careers Questions Open Thread · 2020-12-14T03:02:21.253Z · EA · GW

I would definitely look into lobbying as a career route! That seems like a high-impact use of sales skills

Also, if you want to get involved in policy directly (rather than via research), an MPP or MPA might be a better fit for you rather than an MA/PhD. 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Careers Questions Open Thread · 2020-12-14T02:58:19.942Z · EA · GW

(Context: I work in operations at an EA org.)

I think #1 sounds like a good bet. At this point, I get the sense that EA has more aspiring operations and management people than it can handle, so funding organizations so that more qualified people can be employed and make an impact sounds high-impact. Of course that could change in 5+ years, but I wouldn't count on it, and your current role seems like it might lend itself to gaining useful skills for ops anyway. 

#2 isn't bad either if the opportunity comes up, but if you enjoy your work and don't mind earning to give, I think you have a really big opportunity for counterfactual impact in option #1.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on What are the most common objections to “multiplier” organizations that raise funds for other effective charities? · 2020-12-14T02:30:09.124Z · EA · GW

For what it’s worth, in my experience at TLYCS it takes a lot more than just a website to move money.

+1 to this. RC Forward wrote a bit about this in our year-in-review in 2019. 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on CEA's Plans for 2021 · 2020-12-14T02:13:13.174Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the thorough post! I appreciate the transparency CEA has been keeping in its strategy and plans. 

Small question: does EEAs = engaged EAs? Is that defined by a specific metric?

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Long-Term Future Fund: Ask Us Anything! · 2020-12-05T20:32:21.231Z · EA · GW

Good question! Relatedly, are there common characteristics among people/organizations who you think would make promising applicants but often don't apply? Put another way, who would you encourage to apply who likely hasn't considered applying?

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on List of EA-related organisations · 2020-11-26T05:13:01.278Z · EA · GW

This is a really helpful list! I noticed a couple of organizations that I consider EA aligned that should perhaps be on the list:

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Things I Learned at the EA Student Summit · 2020-10-30T03:47:26.849Z · EA · GW

Love this post and would love to see more like it on the forum! Congrats on a successful EA Student Summit.

I especially want to emphasize this:

there are so many EAs who would genuinely like to talk to you.

In my experience, EAs are almost always super willing to provide advice to others within the EA movement, often because they're nice people, but also because they get to help you have an impact, which helps them have an impact, so everybody wins!

As a single data point, nothing makes my day more than getting emails from random EAs. :)

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on What is a book that genuinely changed your life for the better? · 2020-10-30T03:27:04.951Z · EA · GW

I think I've mentioned a few times on the Forum that Strangers Drowning and Doing Good Better have probably been the most influential parts of my EA journey, and I probably wouldn't have been involved in EA without them. Strangers Drowning seemed like a good priming for EA, while Doing Good Better was a pretty compelling intro.

Others, in no particular order:

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Progress Open Thread: October // Student Summit 2020 · 2020-10-30T03:12:30.792Z · EA · GW

Congrats! Sounds like a great fit for you. :) 

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Technology Non-Profits I could volunteer for? · 2020-10-30T03:08:52.794Z · EA · GW

Not an existing nonprofit, but you might also be interested in creating one of the Software Platforms in this post

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on When setting up a charity, should you employ a lawyer? · 2020-10-30T03:01:46.668Z · EA · GW

Great post! I know a little bit about the US side of things from both watching orgs I've worked with go through the process, and working at a start-up that helped charities get 501(c)(3) status, so I can offer some data points from that perspective.

  • The IRS estimates that the DIY method would take 100+ hours. It's also worth considering that this method is most likely to lead to mistakes, which can lead to having to re-submit the application and delays in processing time.
  • US charity lawyers cost around the same, although there are companies that'll do this for you at a cheaper rate. Harbor Compliance is the most popular I've seen, and most orgs I know who've used this service pay around $3k. There are also smaller companies that will do this for even less (the company I worked for offered it for ~$750 at the time, but lots of prospects told us they'd found even cheaper options), but these companies often have fewer resources and/or lower success rates.

Worth noting that, if you don't want to deal with the 501(c)(3) process off the bat, fiscal sponsorship is also a good option. (Shameless plug, Rethink Charity is offering this service for EA projects and organizations.)

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Yale EA Virtual Fellowship Retrospective - Summer 2020 · 2020-09-28T02:04:51.410Z · EA · GW

Great post! I think you're one of the first uni groups I've seen who's particularly selective with their fellowship - I wouldn't have initially agreed with that strategy, but you give convincing reasons for doing so and it sounds like it paid off. :) Congrats on a successful fellowship round!

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Some thoughts on EA outreach to high schoolers · 2020-09-22T00:54:22.590Z · EA · GW
I think one of the best things about hearing about EA pre-college is it would let you set up your college plan (e.g., major, internships) in an EA-directed way

To me, this seems like the best case for engaging with high schoolers over college students. I seem to meet a lot of EAs who study something that doesn't correlate well with most high-impact careers and find themselves wishing they'd heard about EA sooner so they could have studied something more practical.

The major questions I have with this are 1) can you actually convince high schoolers to change their career plans, and 2) if so, will they actually apply EA ideas in a way that increases their impact? (or as opposed to just blindly following 80k recommendations and doing something they don't like or aren't good at.) I guess both are also risks associated with trying to get anyone to make an EA-related career change, but high schoolers seem more at risk to me, particularly with #2 since I think they have less self-awareness regarding their skills and interests.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs? · 2020-09-13T17:32:16.422Z · EA · GW

Matthew Dellavedova is on Momentum's board, and they're an EA-aligned org, so I suspect he might be EA-sympathetic (or at the very least familiar with it).

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on The community's conception of value drifting is sometimes too narrow · 2020-09-07T02:15:48.160Z · EA · GW

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I largely agree with you. I also think studying "pure" value drift (as opposed to "symptoms" of value drift, which is what a lot of the research in this area focuses on, including, to some extent, my own) comes with a few challenges. (Epistemic status: Pretty uncertain and writing this in haste. Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong.)

  • EA isn't (supposed to be) dogmatic, and hence doesn't have clearly defined values. We're "effective" and we're "altruistic," and those are more or less the only requirements to being EA. But what is altruism? Is it altruistic to invest in yourself so you can have more of an impact later on in life? Effectiveness, on the surface, seems more objective, since it mostly means relying on high-quality evidence and reasoning. But evidence and reason can get messy and biased, which can make defining effectiveness more difficult. For example, even if valuing effectiveness leads you to choose to believe in interventions that have the most robust evidence, it's possible that that robust evidence might come from p-hacking, publication bias, or studies with an over-representation of middle-class people from high-income countries. At some point effectiveness (from the EA point of view) also hinges on a valuing certainty vs. risk-taking, and probably a number of other sub-values as well.
  • Measuring raw values relies primarily on self-reporting, which is a notoriously unreliable social science method. People often say they value one thing and then act in a contradictory manner. Sometimes it's a signaling thing, but sometimes we just don't really understand ourselves that well. Classic example: a young college student says they don't care much about financial stability, until they actually enter the workforce, get a not-super-well-paid job, and realize that maybe they actually do care. I think this is a big reason why people have chosen to focus on behavior and community involvement. It's the closest thing to objective data we can get.

This isn't an argument against what you've written. I still think a lot of people err on assigning the label "value drift" to things like leaving the EA community that could be caused by a number of different scenarios in which it actually perfectly reflects your values to do that thing. I guess I don't know what the solution is here, but I do think it's worth digging into further.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on A curriculum for Effective Altruists · 2020-08-30T02:55:53.392Z · EA · GW

Hmm. On the one hand I think these are all useful topics for an EA to know. But I don't think it's necessary for all EAs to know these things. I think there's a lot of EAs who don't have this technical knowledge, but are happy to outsource decisions relying on this knowledge (such as where to donate) to people who do. That said, I think that often leads to donating less-than-effectively (e.g. giving to whatever EA Fund appeals to you personally, rather than rationally thinking about trade-offs/probabilistic outcomes).

I guess this is, in part, a big-tent vs. elite EA trade-off question. If EA is best as an elite movement, it makes sense that all the members should have this knowledge. But if we want to take an "everyone has a place in EA" approach, then it might not make sense to have a central curriculum.

Also, I don't think we want everyone in EA to have the same skillset. EA isn't, in my view, a single professional field, but perhaps more like a company (although this is probably an oversimplification). If a company gave all of their employees a handbook on How to Be A Great Project Manager, it'd be helpful... for project managers. But the rest of the team ought to be rounding out skills that others in the company don't have that suit their comparative advantage and will move the company forward. The only thing everyone at the company really needs to know is the product. Basic time management / other soft skills are also useful. I don't think we need 100% of EAs to have a solid grounding in economics. Maybe we need ~100% of EAs to trust economics. But I'd rather have some EAs focusing on building skills like movement-building, communications, fundraising, operations/management, entrepreneurship, policy, qualitative research, etc.

Granted, I'm thinking about this from the perspective of careers, rather than being able to participate in discussions in EA spaces. To answer to that aspect of it - although I certainly think it's possible to discuss EA without knowing about economics / statistics / decision analysis knowledge, the conversation does sometimes go in this more technical direction and leave newcomers behind. The question, then, might be whether it's the newcomers who should hold the responsibility of learning this so that they can participate in these discussions, or if the people who are discussing things at such a technical level should adjust the way they discuss these issues to make them more accessible to a non-technical audience. I lean more towards the latter (though it depends on the context).

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Examples of loss of jobs due to Covid in EA · 2020-08-30T02:15:10.542Z · EA · GW

I haven't actually heard of any EA organizations laying off staff due to COVID-19. I wouldn't be surprised if you see very little loss of jobs at EA orgs specifically, or even none at all, over the last couple of months. Most EA organizations seem to have a decent amount of runway, and with a lot of EA donors employed in big tech, which seems to have been relatively stable throughout COVID, there is fortunately still a decent amount of income coming through.

That said, I suspect most of the financial and hence employment impacts of COVID on EA orgs will be in the future as organizations eat into their runway, especially this giving season if donors give significantly less than usual. If there's a big loss of jobs in EA orgs, I'd suspect it to hit around January or February, after organizations take stock after giving season.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on What opportunities are there to use data science in global priorities research? · 2020-08-22T18:19:58.135Z · EA · GW

If you haven't already, I'd reach out directly to GPR organizations and mention that you're interested in applying your skillset to their work. They might be able to provide you with some concrete examples and a better idea of what's available in the field.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on [deleted post] 2020-08-22T17:46:46.533Z

I heard in mid-2019 that Open Phil was interviewing EAs to identify common characteristics / background among people are most receptive to EA. I don't think it was published though.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on When Planning Your Career, Start Early · 2020-08-14T06:27:15.071Z · EA · GW

Strongly agree with your points, although I also don't think they're mutually exclusive to the content of this post.

I think some of the most value I got out of university (and high school, to be honest) was the ability to try out a bunch of things at once with relative ease. I have a lot of interests that change and come and go rather quickly, and in the university setting, it was strangely easy to get involved in whatever new thing that caught my attention, whether via a course, a club, meetings with a professor, an internship, a volunteer opportunity, etc. (Though I attended a small liberal arts college, which might have made this process easier.) I learned a lot about what I like, what I don't like, what I'm good at and what I suck at a lot more quickly than I think I could outside of university, and I think a lot of this became valuable data for deciding on a career, in addition to opening doors to opportunities.

I think a common mistake I see in university students is thinking "I just want to focus on school" for their first three years, trying to secure an internship during the summer of their junior year, and then hoping that's sufficient to get them a job. I don't think this is a great idea. At the same time, I think narrowly focusing on identifying and pursuing a high-income, stable career path (or whatever one's ideal career plan looks like) carries a lot of risk of burnout, poor performance, and misery if you're unlucky enough to get it wrong. I think I see more students err in the former direction that the latter though, although I imagine EA students probably have a higher tendency to over-optimize their career path.

I guess I somewhat lucked out in that a) my courseload was light enough that it allowed me to get very involved outside of class, and b) a lot of the things I was excited about were also employable skills. I guess if this isn't the case for someone, the "seek joy" and "plan your career" might come more into conflict, but that wasn't my experience.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on For those working on longtermist projects, how do you stay motivated in the short-term? · 2020-08-14T04:42:55.871Z · EA · GW

I'm afraid I don't have any original recommendations, but have you read the EA Handbook Motivation Series? Nate Soares' 'On Caring' might be particularly relevant.

I was also talking with some other EAs about this recently and one of them mentioned Metta meditation, which is essentially a meditation that focuses on creating an expanding circle of goodwill, which could hypothetically include the long-term future. If meditation is your thing, it might be worth a shot.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Replaceability Concerns and Possible Responses · 2020-08-14T03:57:49.842Z · EA · GW

Great post! Been meaning to comment for a while - better late than never than suppose.

One thing I wanted to add - I've talked with ~50 people who are interested in working at EA orgs over the last six months or so, and it seems like a lot of them come to the decision through process of elimination. Common trends I see:

  • They don't feel well-suited for policy, often because it's too bureaucratic or requires a high level of social skills.
  • They don't feel well-suited for academia, usually because they have less-than-stellar marks or dislike the expected output or bureaucracy of academia.
  • And they aren't interested in earning-to-give, almost always because of a lack of cultural fit. (They want to have colleagues who are also motivated to do good in the world.)

Per 80,000 Hours recommended career paths, that pretty much leaves working at effective nonprofits as the only option. And conveniently, nonprofit work (especially non-research roles) doesn't usually come with a high bar of qualifications. A lot of positions don't require a bachelor's degree. Depending on the role, it's not uncommon to find a year of vaguely-defined experience as the only minimum qualification for an entry-level job. So that seems like a reasonable choice for a lot of people... except that hundreds of other EAs also see this as a reasonable choice, and the competition grows very quickly.

I've certainly met EAs who seem really well-suited for direct work at EA orgs. But, in part because of the reasons mentioned above, I think the majority of people would be better off focusing their jobseeking efforts somewhere else. I do worry about swinging the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, where talented people stop applying for EA organizations.

I guess my recommendation for people interested in direct work would be to apply to EA organizations that interest you and that you think fit your skillset, but, at the same time, to also apply for EA-aligned organizations and/or impactful non-EA jobs where replaceability is likely to be lower. I also think, if you're uncertain about whether to apply for or accept an EA direct work role, you can usually talk to the hiring manager about what they feel like your counterfactual impact might be. The nice thing about applying EA orgs is that they understand those concerns, and it likely won't negatively affect your application - in fact, it might reflect positively on you for thinking critically and altruistically (for lack of a better word) about your career.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Recommendations for increasing empathy? · 2020-08-02T11:03:42.260Z · EA · GW

Came here to recommend Replacing Guilt as well! Was very impactful for me :)

And we'd love to have you at one of our EA Virtual Group meetups! You can join our new Slack workspace here

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Should you do a PhD? · 2020-07-26T01:55:53.084Z · EA · GW

Great response - thank you!

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on What skill-building activities have helped your personal and professional development? · 2020-07-25T21:19:21.857Z · EA · GW

I found the Unlocking Your Employability course on EdX had a lot of useful activities for improving self-marketing. Learning How to Learn on Coursera was also helpful, though it doesn't have as many interactive activities. I've also heard good things about this Creative Problem Solving course, but I haven't had the chance to try it myself.

Lynette Bye's Productivity Tips also has a lot of useful resources for improving personal productivity.

I would also add CFAR as probably the most helpful tool I've gotten for improving productivity and decision-making in both personal and professional contexts. :)

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Should you do a PhD? · 2020-07-25T20:29:10.570Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this post! I found it quite helpful.

I have a couple of questions about the checklist you linked, though I'm not sure how strongly you endorse it.


Is there a substantial amount of literature in your field?


Was there a major discovery in the field in recent years?

seem to be indicators of neglectedness, which might make the topics more appealing to EAs. Do you think these are better pursued outside of academia? Or not at all?


Do you want a career in academia?

Is there a better option for prospective PhD students who want a career in research outside of academia?

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Improving the future by influencing actors' benevolence, intelligence, and power · 2020-07-25T20:23:16.523Z · EA · GW

I found this post really interesting - thank you!

One question I have after reading is the tractability of increasing benevolence, intelligence, and power. I get the sense that increasing benevolence might be the least tractable (though 80,000 Hours seems to think it might still be worth pursuing), though I'm less sure about how intelligence and power compare. (I'm inclined to think intelligence is somewhat more tractable, but I'm highly uncertain about that.)

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Should we think more about EA dating? · 2020-07-25T16:24:25.790Z · EA · GW

Believe it or not, you're not the first person to think about this. There's an EA dating site made years ago called, although I'm not sure it gets much use anymore.

Some arguments I've seen in favor of this:

  • Dating another EA might prevent value drift.
  • If a relationship with a non-EA goes sour, that person might have a negative association with EA as a result.
  • Having a partner is generally associated with more happiness, which is perhaps intrinsically good, and perhaps good for helping one feel more motivated to do good in the world.

Some arguments against:

  • The skewed gender ratio in EA might make this difficult. (I'm not sure how this plays out when you take LGBTQ+ people into account.)
  • Dating a non-EA might persuade them to become an EA.

Personally, I feel a bit icky about actively encouraging inter-EA dating, as it feels a bit culty to me, and I think it further insulates us from the rest of the world (which I think is bad, but I think others might disagree with me on). But, at the same time, a lot of different subcultures have their own dating apps and mingling events, and I don't think those are culty, so maybe my concerns aren't well-founded.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on How should we run the EA Forum Prize? · 2020-06-23T13:01:52.617Z · EA · GW

I'll offer a data point: I'm not particularly motivated to post on the Forum by a monetary prize. It hasn't led me to post on the Forum more than I ordinarily would. I am somewhat interested in social rewards, but the karma feature seems to do that better than the Forum Prize.

Also, as someone who doesn't read every single post on the Forum, I also find the Prize useful for highlighting what content is actually worth reading, but again, I think highlighting posts based on karma instead (with or without a monetary prize) would work just as well.

If the Forum Prize does continue, I do think there should be separate categories for professional researchers and "amateurs."

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Advice for getting the most out of one-on-ones · 2020-06-22T02:15:10.353Z · EA · GW

I've found a couple of other useful resources since first posting this:

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Finding an egg cell donor in the EA community · 2020-05-30T19:29:33.958Z · EA · GW

Interesting! Didn't know that.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on What are the leading critiques of "longtermism" and related concepts · 2020-05-30T16:20:03.189Z · EA · GW

Not academic or outside of EA, but this Forum comment and this Facebook post may be good starting points if you haven't seen them already.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Finding an egg cell donor in the EA community · 2020-05-30T16:07:59.502Z · EA · GW

I have seen a few EAs discuss selling eggs as a way of earning-to-give. If you're not willing to compensate at market rates, getting a donation may be a bit more difficult, but I don't expect it to be impossible.

If I were to look for an egg cell donor, I would probably make some sort of a post or Google Doc outlining exactly the type of person you're looking for, what you'd expect from them, and what you're willing to compensate. Then sharing it on some EA platforms - I imagine you could generate some leads from Bountied Rationality, LessWrong, some EA Facebook groups (e.g. EA Hangout), maybe local EA groups, and perhaps the Forum.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Developing my inner self vs. doing external actions · 2020-05-30T15:19:57.646Z · EA · GW

I don't have much to add aside from what the other two responses have said except that I think it's possible to have opportunities that both develop the inner self and benefit others. I probably wouldn't endorse spending all your time on these activities, but looking out for them and prioritizing them seems like a good decision to me.

I don't think there's a One Right Answer or a one-size-fits-all approach, but I do think that using the comparative advantage framework may be helpful here.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on What are some historical examples of people and organizations who've influenced people to do more good? · 2020-04-25T21:51:57.212Z · EA · GW

You're probably right - mostly wondering if someone had more rigorous evidence on this (or ideas on how to get it) or examples beyond the mainstream ones.

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Advice for getting the most out of one-on-ones · 2020-03-21T05:02:13.474Z · EA · GW

First: before you schedule any one-on-ones at EAG (or wherever you are), think about what you want to get out of them/the conference in general. This post includes some sample goals to consider. What your goals are will pretty much dictate what one-on-ones will be most valuable for you.

I'm coming at this as someone whose primary goal for EAGs has generally been to clarify my career plans, and secondary goal has been to make more EA friends, so my advice will likely be skewed towards that.

Who should I meet with?

I usually find myself scheduling three types of one-on-ones

1. People who have a clear connection with my interests or projects (~70%)

2. Peers who share similar personal interests, hobbies, etc. (~20%)

3. People working in areas I don't know much about but would like to learn more about and could plausibly see as changing my mind about a particular cause area / career option / etc. (~10%)

You can also get more people to schedule one-on-ones with you by filling out your conference app profile in full and including a couple things you're interested in talking with people about. Also, if you're using the Grip app, indicate "Interested" on other attendees' profiles. The more you do this, the more meeting requests you'll likely get!

What's the best way to score a meeting with someone I want to talk to? (especially if I don't have any immediately useful skills or knowledge to share)

First, speaking from experience, I find that EAs are more likely than average to hold a meeting with you even if you don't have anything tangible to offer them. When you think about it, by helping you have more of an impact, they're also increasing they're own impact, which is motivating for most EAs. Don't let not having anything to offer immediately keep you from reaching out to someone you think you could have a valuable conversation with!

That said, when you ask someone to meet, it helps if you add a sentence or two about what you'd like to talk about / why you think they'd be useful to talk to. This helps them prepare for the call better and (from anecdotal evidence) makes you more likely to get a response since they know exactly how the call will be useful for you/them.

What if someone I really want to talk to doesn't respond? Should I follow up?

IMO, it depends, and it helps if you can read some non-obvious social cues here (or can get advice from someone who can).

Some things that have worked for me and others:

  • Offering to meet (perhaps virtually) later in the week / the following week, in case the person has a full schedule during the conference weekend
  • Meeting during their office hours (another thing first-timers are sometimes intimidated by but is actually really useful!)

What do I say? What sorts of questions should I ask?

This varies quite a bit based on what you want to know. Whatever that is, you'll want to spend some time thinking about this before.

If you're totally new to one-on-ones, a quick Google search on sample informational interview questions will help get you started.

If you're the type of person who gets anxious about one-on-ones, I find it helpful to run through the conversation in my head mentally ahead of time, jotting down points I want to talk about / questions I want to ask. My conversations don't usually follow the script in actuality, but it soothes my nerves a bit to have something to fall back on in case the conversation lulls.

Also helps to have a few pocket small-talk questions handy, particularly EA-specific ones. Things like "how did you get involved in EA?" and "what cause areas are you most excited about?"

What should I do after the conference? Should I follow up? How often/in what way?

EAG is a bit more informal than most conferences, so I find that the rules are a little more relaxed. It's pretty typical to friend EAs on Facebook after the conference to keep in touch. It's also nice to send a quick thank you email/message after the conference, especially to people more senior than you, and let them know down the line how you've used their advice.

One last thing: If one-on-ones are nerve-wracking for you, you're not alone! As someone who had my first in-person interactions at EAG a year ago, I wasn't sure what to expect meeting with EAs for the first time, but I've found EAs to be incredibly helpful and friendly. And, if for whatever reason, if you find your experience to be anything less than that, CEA has an awesome community health team available to help you out. :)

Comment by MarisaJurczyk on Utilizing global attention during crises for EA causes · 2020-03-19T22:39:44.866Z · EA · GW

I've been thinking about this also so I'm glad to see this post!

Anecdote: I've been talking to friends and family about COVID-19 since late January/February, and started my first attempts at social distancing towards the beginning of March. In these first few days, a lot of my (non-EA) friends seemed to think this response was an overreaction. Later on, a lot of them came around to say, "wow, you were right," which I've tried to use to point some more credibility towards EA.

Some not-fully-formed ideas I have about this:

  • I think there's an opportunity, once this begins to resolve, to hopefully get some media attention and say something along the lines of "there's a community of people who were thinking about this before it happened, and who are thinking of other possible threats. Here's how you can help."
  • I also think that we might see an influx of young not-currently-EAs interested in helping address future pandemics, but I suspect a lot of them will be drawn to becoming doctors and nurses. So perhaps some publicity for these careers and/or a talent pipeline for biosecurity careers might be useful.