The idea this week: building career capital is a key part of having an impactful career over the long term — and we have new content about some specific paths you might take.

If you want to do good with your career, we usually don’t recommend trying to have an impact right away. We think most people should spend their early career getting good at something useful.

Here’s some of our new content on specific ways to potentially build career capital:

1. US policy master’s degrees

We recently published an in-depth review of US policy master’s degrees.

Working in policy can be an excellent way to have a positive impact on many top problems, including AI, biosecurity, great power conflict, animal welfare, global health, and more.

The first part details the value of policy master’s degrees with a focus on the US — though some of the information is likely to apply more broadly. We think this is one of the best ways to get career capital for a career in US policy.

The second part covers specifics about how to choose which program to apply to based on reputation and personal fit, advice for preparing your application, and information on how to fund your degree.

2. Should you work at a leading AI lab?

Another way to gain valuable career capital is to work in a high-performing team, especially in new and rapidly growing fields.

We recently published an article about working in AI labs, which covers working in an AI lab early in your career to gain career capital, as well as working to reduce the risk of catastrophe.

The review considers how AI labs could be a force for good or harm — which we think is a particularly tricky issue. We also cover other important considerations — like predicting your personal fit, why there are some roles you should likely avoid, and how you can mitigate downsides.

3. How many lives does a doctor save?

Many talented and altruistic-minded young people consider going into medicine to help people. So what about going to medical school in order to build the skills and gain the credentials to save lives? Well, maybe not. While a medical degree can be helpful for some impactful paths, it is not as obvious a choice for doing good as people might think.

This is a topic we’ve explored before: how many lives does a single doctor actually save over their career? We recently published an update to Dr. Gregory Lewis’s classic three-part series that aims to figure out the answer to this question:

  • Part one looks at the evidence for how modern medicine as a whole has impacted human health and longevity.
  • Part two takes a closer looks at how many extra lives would be saved if you became a doctor — concluding it’s likely many fewer than most people expect.
  • Part three examines other ways that doctors can have a large positive impact outside of normal clinical practice.

Bonus: we just released a new video about the risks of advanced artificial intelligence

This new piece boils down the argument in our problem profile on preventing AI-related catastrophes into a 10-minute video. We hope it makes the case in an engaging, accessible way. If you watch it and want to learn more about how you can help, you can read our recently updated career reviews on AI technical safety and AI governance and coordination.

You can also give us feedback about the video, which helps us decide whether to make more content like this.

These are just some of the ideas we’ve been covering recently — but obviously there are many more ways to think about building career capital.

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To learn more, we recommend the following chapters of our career guide: