Studies of career change

As of our last impact evaluation in December 2013, we’ve tracked over 100 cases of people who have made a significant plan change due to our programs. On this page, we list 23 of the most impressive examples, as well as 4 more examples we collected later. To see more on our methodology and what the other plan changes consisted of, see our full evaluation.

We wrote the description of the plan changes based on what we currently knew from their own words in the survey, our coaching write ups, our own knowledge or the studies of career change prepared in October 2013. We sent these descriptions to the relevant person by email, asking them to point out mistakes. When we had a version they were happy with, we confirmed the final wording with them. Four have been anonymised.

The list

1. Owen CB

Background Post-doc in mathematics.

What were they planning before? Intended to pursue an academic career in pure mathematics. Giving 10% to effective charities as a member of Giving What We Can.

How did their plans change? Owen became convinced to consider impact in choosing research topics. This made him less inclined to continue research in pure mathematics, preferring areas with important but neglected questions.

What are they doing now? He’s doing prioritisation research at the CEA-FHI Global Priorities Project.

How and why did the change come about? Owen met the 80,000 Hours community through his involvement in Giving What We Can in Oxford. He was introduced to the case for basing career choice on expected impact by people in this community. Through further discussions, he became convinced to use his research skills to work directly on the most pressing questions.

80,000 Hours also contributed to founding the Global Priorities project where Owen now works. 80,000 Hours contributed to the initial idea, and wrote up the arguments in favor of the project, which helped the project to secure funding, some of which came from members of 80,000 Hours.

In their own words: He said we had a ‘significant impact’ on his beliefs because we introduced him to the relevant arguments for the first time. He adds:

One of the major influences of 80,000 Hours was the idea of framing a career as part of what you can achieve for good in the world rather than just thinking of achieving good via donations.

2. Sam Bankman Fried

Background MIT – Physics, graduates in 2014

What were they planning before? Student. Considering politics, journalism and academia. Highly concerned with making a difference.

How did their plans change? Became more in favor of earning to give, at least in the short-run, and more concerned about causes that benefit the long-run future.

What are they doing now? Completed an internship at a proprietary trading firm and intends to take up a job offer in the summer. Intends to donate all earnings he doesn’t need to live on and do well in his job. Final year at MIT. He plans to lead his career on the basis of where he can make the most difference.

How and why did the change come about? Sam was convinced through discussion with 80,000 Hours staff; introduction to the 80,000 Hours community; and lectures on the core concepts. Participating in the 80,000 Hours community contributed to finding his finance internship.

How much have they donated over the last three years? None

How much do they plan to donate over the next 3 years? ~£100k, though ~$1mn per year from 3 years time if they don’t leave finance. Attributes this mainly to 80,000 Hours.

3. Roman Duda

Background
Roman did the BPhil in Philosophy at Oxford, and was choosing between a wide range of careers.

What were they planning before?
He was planning to do a master’s in Psychology, with the view to do go into research designing interventions to increase people’s happiness, productivity and decision-making.

How did their plans change?
He decided to work at 80,000 Hours instead.

What are they doing now?
Roman is working full time at 80,000 Hours.

How and why did the change come about?
The change came about as a result of a case study done on Roman’s situation by 80,000 Hours whilst Roman was an intern at 80k.

4. Peter Hurford

Background Student at Denison University, studying political science and psychology.

What were they planning before? PhD in political science. Involved in the effective altruism community. Intending to donate a portion of his salary as a member of Giving What We Can.

How did their plans change? Considered earning to give in law, software engineering and marketing, and working in effective altruist organisations. Became more inclined to see his career as a route towards doing good, rather than just donate money.

What are they doing now? Pursuing earning to give in software engineering and running the effective altruist volunteer group .impact. Intends to choose career primarily on the basis of impact.

How and why did the change come about? Peter has explained his career decision in detail here. 80,000 Hours contributed through conversations with several members of staff and attending our workshop, which persuaded him to consider pursuing earning to give, take career capital into account and broadened the job options he considered.

In their own words:

I relied heavily on research done by 80,000 Hours to inform my decision – both in assisting my initial selection of high-impact options and in comparing them. The existence of 80,000 Hours moved me away from pursuing a Ph.D. program in political science toward earning to give in web development. 80,000 Hours very much impacted my decision.

How much has he donated in the last 3 years?
$16,800+ donated – details are here. Has saved an additional $12,400 for future donations.

How much does he intend to donate over the next 3 years?
Around $60,000 to effective altruist organisations. This is at least $45,000 more than if he had pursued a PhD. He attributes 50% of this to 80,000 Hours.

5. Ramit Nehru

Background University of Chicago, Economics, worked as a quantitative financial analyst for several years.

What were they planning before? Choosing between doing a medical degree to go into medical research and maximising earnings in finance to do earning to give. Most likely to do medical research. Highly concerned with making a difference.

How did their plans change? Now most likely to take the earning to give route in finance. More likely to donate to meta-charities.

What are they doing now? Applying for roles in finance and medical research internships, while continuing as a quantitative financial analyst and studying medicine part time.

How and why did the change come about? During a case study with 80,000 Hours, he learned that: the earnings in finance are higher than he thought, in medical research it’s not uncommon to become stranded mid-career, there are reasons against thinking the medical research path is better than earning to give and that there are good donation opportunities within meta-charities.

Full write up of the case study is here.

6. Marek Duda

Background
Originally from a liberal-arts background, Marek worked his way into a job at a bulge bracket investment bank in Mexico City.

What were they planning before?
Marek was planning to pursue a career in Finance/Business. He was at an investment bank, and planning to eventually make the jump to the buy side, or maybe doing an MBA and going into a different part of the finance/business world. His main focus was money, mainly for the purpose of being rich when older. He didn’t really think about making a large positive difference, in part due to a lack of interest in it, but also due to an ignorance of that even being a possibility.

How did their plans change?
The first change after his exposure to 80,000 Hours was to greatly increase his interest in making a large positive difference in the world, and he thought he would do so by donating to the most effective causes from his corporate career. Eventually, he became convinced that to have the largest positive impact with his career, working directly within organisations focused on promoting doing good in an evidence-based, cause neutral way, would probably be the best thing for him to do. Marek changed his career plan radically and quickly; having only landed a job in finance the previous year, he decided to leave it to work at the Centre for Effective Altruism.

What are they doing now?
Marek started working at CEA in March 2014.

How and why did the change come about?
The change came about as a result of one on one coaching with 80,000 Hours, reading the 80,000 Hours website, and discussion with other people at CEA as well as from his other/unrelated networks.

7. Ben Clifford

Background
Ben was a Philosophy student at the University of Warwick when he first heard about 80,000 Hours.

What were they planning before?
Ben was planning to work in the public sector, most likely as a teacher to start with, and eventually somewhere in the education / local government/central government.

How did their plans change?
Ben changed his plans to initially build career capital, and eventually earn to give or occupy a leadership role in an effective altruist organisation.

Where he can make the most difference is now the most important consideration in his choice of career and this is due to 80,000 Hours.

What are they doing now?
Ben became the Director of Community at Giving What We Can, and is now working as a Software Developer for Hubble.

How and why did the change come about?
Through reading our online content and coaching with 80,000 Hours, including a group workshop. It took a year and a lot of thinking for Ben to decide not to be a teacher and to aim for something that could do more good.

In their own words:

Anyone who is serious about changing the world should read through 80000 Hours’ research first. It has radically changed my perspective about how best to help people and my expectations about how much I can achieve.

8. Ben Halton

Background Oxford University – Politics, Philosophy and Economics, graduated 2012

What were they planning before? A student intending to donate 10% of his income to cost-effective development charities as a member of Giving What We Can, probably from a career in law or academia. He wanted to make a difference but wasn’t sure he would be able to.

How did their plans change? He initially changed his plans to do earning to give as a lawyer. After finding out about politics and seeing our research on it, however, he decided to attempt to start a political career. More broadly, he realised that it was possible to confirm his real-life goals to his idealistic ones, and devote his career to making the biggest possible difference.

What are they doing now? Working as an intern at CEA. Intends to start a political career.

How and why did the change come about? He found out about 80,000 Hours through Giving What We Can, and was convinced by the arguments in favour of earning to give. Later, he was introduced to the idea that politics might be an even better opportunity, which was confirmed through research produced as a part of a case study we did with him.

In their own words:
Without 80,000 Hours, I would not be pursuing this career.

9. Jess Whittlestone

Background: Oxford University, First in Maths and Philosophy, graduated 2012

Situation before: Student. Intention to do a PhD in philosophy. Making a difference was an important goal among several.

How 80,000 Hours intervened: Had several one-on-one discussions with 80,000 Hours staff, which prompted her to consider a wider range of options and talk to lots of people, and eventually to intern with us.

How her plans changed: Decided to do a PhD in the psychology of decision making, with the intention of advocating for better practices within academia. Has pledged 10% of her income to effective charities. Intends to primarily plan her career on the basis of where she can make the most difference.

What she’s doing now: She is pursuing a PhD in the psychology of decision-making at the Warwick Business School, supervised by a leader in policy based on behavioural economics.

In her words:

I graduated in June 2012 with a Maths and Philosophy degree from Oxford. I’d been feeling increasingly confused about what to do afterwards; I knew I wanted to make a difference somehow but didn’t really know what that meant. None of the careers we typically think of as “ethical” seemed to really fit with my skills and interests. I was looking at going into philosophy of mind or cognitive science research, but felt somewhat dissatisfied that this probably wasn’t going to lead to me helping many people.

I came across 80,000 Hours in July, and started doing an internship in October. Through advice sessions and informal conversations with people I now have a much clearer idea of what I want to do with my career. I’m going to do a PhD in Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School next year, as I feel this will allow me to develop the skills, experience, and networks that will keep many options open later on. I’m still thinking a lot about my longer term career plans, but I’m open to a much wider range of things I might do to have an impact.

Without 80,000 Hours I also wouldn’t have taken the pledge to donate 10% of my earnings over my lifetime to the most effective causes, and probably would have donated substantially less and been less well informed about where to donate.

In general, interacting with 80,000 Hours has nothing short of revolutionised the way I think about my career, and even beyond that, my life in general. I have a deepened understanding of what I care about and a much clearer idea of what it means to “make a difference.” 80,000 Hours has made me realise how many more options are open to me. I’m so much more ambitious and excited about my career than I was a year ago.

10. Andrew Farmer

Background Major in Math at MIT.

What were they planning before? Identified as a utilitarian. Choosing between a career in software engineering or quantitative trading. Had job offers within both.

How did their plans change? Became more convinced of the importance of donations compared to the direct impact of working in software. Within finance, became more inclined to take the option with the highest discounted earnings, rather than the best lifestyle. Believes they’ve become more likely to stick to their altruistic aims.

What are they doing now? Decided to take a job in quantitative trading and donate over half of his income to GiveWell recommended charities and meta-charities. Highly concerned with choosing the career in which they can have the largest impact, including long-run effects.

How and why did the change come about? Was persuaded by the importance of donations compared to direct impact through discussion with a member of 80,000 Hours. Received career coaching and was given estimates of direct impact, which confirmed this impression. Was also encouraged to consider the discovery value, career capital and degree of fit with both options, and was told about crucial considerations around existential risk.

How much does he intend to donate over the next 3 years? £300k He attributes ~15% of his total impact to 80,000 Hours.

11. Adam Gleave

Background Studying computer science at the University of Cambridge, graduates in 2015.

What were they planning before? A career in finance or software.

How did their plans change, and what are they doing now? Became more inclined to donate a substantial fraction of their income to charity. Became more inclined towards finance in order to earn more. Plans to donate to GiveWell recommended charities, organisations aiming to mitigate existential risk, or effective altruist organisations. Has accepted an internship in quantitative trading.

How and why did the change come about? Found out about the arguments in favour of donating through 80,000 Hours and Giving What We Can. Now an active participant in the 80,000 Hours community in Cambridge.

How much do they plan to donate over the next 3 years? £50k, and substantially more in later years that if he continues in finance. He attributes 70% of future donations to 80,000 Hours.

In their own words:

80,000 Hours has significantly changed how I view my career. Helping others is very important to me, but as the standard ethical careers don’t fit my abilities or interests, I was unsure what to do next.

Until encountering 80,000 Hours, I had adopted the ‘Ostrich approach’ of ignoring the problem. Although I was initially skeptical, reading 80,000 Hours’ research made me realise that I could make a difference by doing what I was good at, and donating the money I didn’t need. I greatly appreciated 80,000 Hours rigour and quantitative approach, which gave me confidence I was making the right decision.

In retrospect, much of what 80,000 Hours is saying is really just common sense. I think 80,000 Hours style of career evaluation will become much more common in the years to come. In the meantime, I’ve found the 80,000 Hours community is a great way to connect with people of similar interests, and is almost as valuable as the research.

12. Xio Kikauka

Background Student in Psychology at Thompson River University and Acadia University.

What were they planning before? No concrete career intentions though highly concerned about making a difference.

How did their plans change? She initially pursued jobs at THINK, which she discovered through 80,000 Hours. Then she decided to intern at CEA. Finally, she decided with Joey Savoie to found an organisation, Effective Fundraising, that does nothing but fundraise for the most effective charities in the world, thereby creating a charity that’s potentially even more cost-effective. This decision was influenced by 80,000 Hours, among several other groups. She intends to pursue the career in which she can make the most difference.

What are they doing now? Working at Effective Fundraising/The Greatest Good Foundation.

How and why did the change come about? As soon as Xio and Joey heard about 80,000 Hours, they got involved volunteering and reading our blog. Later, they interned with CEA, and had extensive discussions about their career with people they met through us.

13. Eitan Fischer and Animal Charity Evaluators

We played a substantial role in the creation of Animal Charity Evaluators, which performs research into the most effective ways to promote animal welfare and now has an annual budget of $80,000. ACE developed out of Effective Animal Activism, which was founded by Eitan Fischer during an internship at 80,000 Hours. 80,000 Hours contributed to the initial concept for the charity and provided it with technical support, as well as assistance fundraising and hiring full-time staff. One of our team members, Rob Wiblin, was a founding trustee of the new organisation. Moreover, EAA was legally part of 80,000 Hours for 6 months, before being spun-off and independently registered.

14. Matt Gibb

Background: Oxford University – PhD in Computational Biology 2012

What were they planning before? Student. Planning to work in start-ups.

How did their plans change, and what are they doing now? Decided to donate 33% of his income, and the value of the equity of any start-ups he creates, to effective charities. Plans to lead his career on the basis of where he can make the most difference.

Now he’s the co-founder of a start-up, Dropkic.kr, which matches investors with crowdfunding projects. All of the founders have made a legally binding agreement to donate 33% of the proceeds of a future sale of the company.

How and why did the change come about? Matt came to an 80,000 Hours talk, was exposed to the idea of earning to give, and was immediately convinced. He started volunteering for 80,000 Hours as one of the founding 6 members.

How much have they donated over the last three years? £2-3k to AMF and SCI.

How much do they expect to donate over the next three years? £100k in expectation, though likely to be zero.

For more, see this interview

15. Abbie Taylor

Background: University of Oxford – Medicine, class of 2015

What were they planning before? Planned to become a doctor and make a difference through treating patients.

How did their plans change, and what are they doing now? Rather than assuming that she will have a large direct impact as a medic, Abbie decided to focus on influencing other medics to multiply her impact. While completing medical school, she is establishing a network of healthcare professionals interested in helping people more effectively through careers in policy, research and earning to give, among others. She has secured £6,000 in funding from the 2023 Challenge. She is focused on using her medical career to make the most difference she can.

Abbie also became a dedicated volunteer at 80,000 Hours in Oxford. She has attracted hundreds of attendees to 80,000 Hours events and organized a conference on effective altruism in healthcare careers where she presented 80,000 Hours’ research.

How and why did the change come about? Always highly concerned with helping people through her career, after attending an event and talking to several of 80,000 Hours’ staff, Abbie was persuaded that the direct effects of her work on patients was not the most important factor in her impact. While a volunteer, she considered pursuing earning to give, but decided she could do more by influencing other healthcare professionals into high potential paths. 80,000 Hours has also helped by giving her careers advice, encouraging her to think strategically about how to make an impact in medicine, and advising her on the business plan for the network.

In her own words:

I began working in healthcare at the age of sixteen wanting to “help people” – my medical school application stated “an interest in humans at all levels, from the molecular to the psychosocial.” My motivations are still the same, but my thoughts on how best to help people have changed dramatically.

After various token attempts at volunteering, I had become very disillusioned with my apparent inability to do anything of consequence. I pretty much gave-up on the idea of “charity”. I was also despondent about life in general, lacking any clear purpose or sense of agency, and I took several years out of studying because I was too depressed to care. It was therefore a revelation for me to learn that it is possible for one person to have thousands of times more impact simply by directing their efforts towards a more effective cause.

I first stumbled across an 80,000 Hours event on career choice as an excuse to avoid being dragged to a “This is Jesus Week” talk by friends. Ironically, it turned-out to be a life-changing experience on a scale that my Bible bashing friends could not have hoped for…I desperately wanted to maintain the enthusiasm that I took away from 80,000 Hours, and started volunteering to help get the message across to others. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the 80,000 Hours community, and my involvement has had the happy consequence of making me more motivated and productive in general.

I hope that by establishing a network of healthcare professionals with similar values I can help other medics to think beyond their everyday work to the bigger picture. By influencing how other people spend their money, time and efforts, I will indirectly have far more impact than I could ever achieve on my own.

16. Callum Calvert

Background
Callum is a maths student at University of Warwick.

What were they planning before?
He wasn’t sure, but a possibility was a role in the charity sector.

How did their plans change, and what are they doing now?
Callum changed his plan to do earning to give in finance. He is currently applying for jobs in finance whilst finishing his last year at university.
Where he can make the most difference is now the most important consideration in his choice of career. Callum says that 80,000 Hours probably had a large part to play in making it so, just through suggesting the idea.

How and why did the change come about?
The change into earning to give in finance happened as a result of watching a video of the first 80,000 Hours lecture and being persuaded by the arguments, as well as reading our online content and discussion with people he’s met through Giving What We Can and CEA.

17. Richard Batty

Background Oxford University – Human Sciences, graduated 2012

What were they planning before? Uncertain intention to go into public health as a researcher or NGO worker.

How did their plans change? He decided to improve his programming skills, and pursue jobs in start-ups with the aim of creating valuable products and earning to give.

What are they doing now? He’s working at a start-up consultancy in London which aims to improve board decision making.

How and why did the change come about? Richard came to the original 80,000 Hours talk, and was immediately convinced. He then helped to found 80,000 Hours, interned with us, and received coaching. During this time, he researched a wide variety of careers. As the result of this, he considered a much broader range of sectors and considered doing earning to give rather than direct work.

Other benefits Richard met a friend through 80,000 Hours, who later provided Richard with loans to learn to program and helped him find jobs in tech start-ups.

18. Jacob Nebel

Background Princeton – Philosophy, Class of 2013

What were they planning before? Intending to either go to law school or start a career in academic philosophy.

How did their plans change, and what are they doing now? Decided to focus on researching issues around global prioritisation and the risk of human extinction within law and philosophy, as well as advocate for the importance of these issues. He’s now studying a Masters in Philosophy at Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship.

How and why did the change come about? He attended a talk by us in Princeton, then spent two months interning with us in Oxford, during which he had several in-depth discussions with our staff. Learned about the importance of the long-run future and ways to have impact within academic philosophy. We also gave him significant advice in writing his Marshall application.

In their own words:

80,000 Hours changed how I looked at my career prospects. At first, I thought 80,000 Hours’s message was just about earning to give, but Will persuaded me to forgo a lucrative internship at a hedge fund to do research for 80,000 Hours. I learned from this experience that I could have a great impact through research, but only if I think very carefully about how to maximize that impact. And that’s just what I hope to do through philosophy. [through 80,000 Hours] I met amazing people, and it is important to me that I know I have a network of smart, supportive folks in the years ahead.

19. Sam Hilton

Background Oxford University – Masters in Physics and Philosophy, graduated 2011

What were they planning before? Student and intern at The Life You Can Save. Member of Giving What We Can. Very undecided about what to do.

How did their plans change? Intends to pursue the career that will allow him to make the most difference. Applied to a very wide variety of jobs, aiming to pick the one that will place him in the best position to have an impact in the long-term.

What are they doing now? Policy analyst at the UK treasury.

How and why did the change come about? Participating in our community in Oxford. Received career coaching from our staff.

In their own words:

Like many students finishing university was something that happened to other people. I knew in the back of my mind it would happen to me too someday but I didn’t have time to think about that I always had other stuff to do. I had to get back to my room following the frisbee match, have a shower, finish that last question on neutrinoless double beta decay and then go to the party. Or something similar.

It is hard to tell exactly what effect 80,000 hours has had on my life. At some point reality would have reared its ugly head and I would have had to begin to make decisions about the rest of my life. I have no idea where I would have started. Maybe following whatever boring suggestions my parents recommended or maybe flying round the world looking for a job in adventure sports. Either way it never came to that. I realised that I wanted to make a difference, to help others, to change the world for the better as much as possible. And so, it was only when I found 80,000 Hours, that my future career really began…

20. Niel Bowerman

Background University of Oxford, PhD candidate in Climate Physics. Climate campaigner. Named a “Young Global Shaper” by the World Economic Forum.

What were they planning before? Pursue a career in climate policy or be a science advisor to NGOs or governments.

How did their plans change? Initially switched to considering earning to give in finance, but after several months decided to work within effective altruist organisations. Intends to pursue the career in which he can make the most difference.

What are they doing now? Working at CEA on outreach, prioritisation research and policy development.

How and why did the change come about? Attended a Giving What We Can event in Oxford, and was introduced to the arguments in favor of earning to give, which immediately convinced him to rethink his approach. This led to him becoming heavily involved in the community in Oxford, and helping to set up 80,000 Hours.

21. Robbie Shade

Background: Oxford University – Robotics DPhil, Class of 2012

Situation before: Student. Undecided between academia and industry.

How 80,000 Hours intervened: Robbie came to the original 80,000 Hours talk on earning to give, and was immediately convinced. He volunteered to help 80,000 Hours build our website.

How his plans changed: He decided to work in industry rather than academia and pledge to donate 25% of his income rather than 10% (which he decided due to Giving What We Can). Decided to donate to 80,000 Hours.

What he’s doing now: Earning to give by working as a Software Engineer for Google.

22. Dominic Hall

Background: Oxford University – Physics and Philosophy, Class of 2012

Situation before: Student, planning to do something effective to help improve people’s lives, no clear direction as to how this should be.

How 80,000 Hours intervened: Dominic came to an 80,000 Hours talk, and was immediately convinced. He had a meeting with an 80,000 Hours member of staff to discuss his plans, and has stayed in touch since.

How his plans changed: He decided to work in consulting rather than a traditionally ‘moral’ career, make a pledge to donate everything he earns above $50,000 and give to the most cost-effective charities.

What he’s doing now: After working in consultancy for a year, he founded his own consultancy, which he hopes to staff with members of 80,000 Hours.

23. Tim Jones

Background: Princeton – Philosophy Class of 2012

Situation before: Student. Considering a wide range of careers, with the top contenders being doctor and maths professor. Member of Giving What We Can, pledging 10% of his income to cost-effective charities.

How 80,000 Hours intervened: Through involvement with us and other groups, he started to consider earning to give or working directly in ‘effective altruist’ non-profits. We gave him extensive feedback, advice and discussion of his plans, in person and in writing, weighing up the relevant arguments and providing relevant information, over the course of months. We encouraged him to pursue earning to give, due to his unusually large earning potential.

How his plans changed: He decided to pursue earning to give, in part due to 80,000 Hours and in part due to advice from others in CEA. He plans to lead his career on the basis of where he can make the most difference.

What he’s doing now: He is working for a proprietary trading firm. He was able to donate $40,000 in his first three months, and plans to donate upwards of $100,000 after his first full calendar year. He agrees that this was the right decision. Tim continues to receive research from one of our trustees on where to donate, and we’ve introduced him to several other members of 80,000 Hours. He donates to 80,000 Hours among other organisations. He has also helped to convince a recently retired Partner of his company to support 80,000 Hours financially.

24. Tyler Alterman

Background Founder of THE THINK TANK at the University of Chicago; Macaulay Honors College Cognitive Science & Communications Design, 2008 – 2013. Linkedin.

What were they planning before? Various positions at organizations that were social impact-leaning. However, Tyler felt a nagging dissatisfaction that, at each of the organizations he was considering, he might be replaceable, and thus wouldn’t be maximizing the amount of good he could do.

How did their plans change? Work within effective altruist organisations.

What are they doing now? Founding partner of Effective Altruism Ventures and employed by Effective Altruism Outreach.

How and why did the change come about? Tyler wanted to switch paths but was looking around for things to do. After attending the Effective Altruism Summit in summer 2014, he found out about 80,000 Hours. Our online guide convinced him to seriously consider working within the effective altruism movement.

In their own words:
80,000 Hours’s guide not only proved an invaluable resource for my career change, but also continues to be my go-to reference for assessing each new project I consider tackling. I pass on the website to every friend in the middle of a career change.

25. Ben West

Background Software developer team lead at Epic; University of Wisconsin, Computer Science 2011; Linkedin

What were they planning before? Continue earning to give as a software engineer.

How did their plans change? Launch a startup.

What are they doing now? Founder and CEO of 10 Minute PQRs. Intends to donate all income above minimum wage to high-impact charities.

How and why did the change come about? Our research on tech entrepreneurship was one factor that convinced him to make the switch, along with conversations and support from our community.

In his own words:
“80,000 Hour’s advice was clear, accessible and to the point. Changing your life’s trajectory To the uncertain world of startups is never an easy decision, but with their guidance it was as smooth a transition as possible.

26. Jonas Vollmer

Background Former Medical student at University of Basel, current Economics student at University of Basel.

What were they planning before? Become a doctor.

How did their plans change? Founded GBS Switzerland, an effective altruist non-profit organisation.

What are they doing now? Executive Director of GBS Switzerland, leading a team of 14 staff.

How and why did the change come about? Jonas learned about the arguments in favor of earning to give, movement building and using your comparative advantage through 80,000 Hours. This, along with discussions with others in the effective altruism movement, convinced him to leave medicine and become a founding member and Executive Director of GBS Switzerland.

In their own words: Without 80,000 Hours, I’d likely still be studying medicine, and there probably wouldn’t be an effective altruism hub in Switzerland. 80,000 Hours was and continues to be essential for the success of the Swiss effective altruism movement.

27. Ben Gilbert

Background Former financial trader; University of Oxford, Philosophy and Theology. Read more.

What were they planning before? Unsure – see some ideas in this interview.

How did their plans change? Decided to pursue entrepreneurship for earning to give, get more involved in effective altruism to work out what to do in the future, and develop financial services to serve the effective altruism community.

What are they doing now? Co-founder at LendLayer. Co-founder of a UK property lending company.

How and why did the change come about? Discussion with people in the community, and reading EA resources, made him more focused on effectiveness and questions of where he has a comparative advantage. He started making plans for a finance start-up. Ben Todd introduced him to Matt Gibb, who was working on a start-up in the same field, and they began to collaborate.

In his own words:
I’d been thinking along vaguely ‘effective altruist’ lines for a few years, but without any clear idea of how I could turn it into action. Discovering 80,000 Hours helped me make big steps forward. It increased my determination by showing me there was a community striving towards similar goals. I was able to read analysis which addressed and made progress on questions that had been concerning me. And it set up introductions that ended up being decisive in the path I’m taking. I can’t think of another community which compares with the people I’ve encountered through 80,000 Hours in their integrity and ability.