Author Archives: Sebastian Farquhar
I talked earlier about how at university you should probably pick more mathematical ‘hard’ subjects over more artsy ones and focus on getting a good degree class. This is pretty similar to conventional advice on choosing a degree. But I found a lack of practical step-by-step guides to picking the right degree for you. This guide gives you a structured way to gather all the relevant information and to make a decision on your degree. Without a structured process it’s easy to narrow down your options too fast, to ignore important evidence, and to apply your evidence inconsistently.
In my last post I looked at the role of degree choice for professional and academic careers. Now let’s branch out and look at the more general role of degree choice. This matters for people interested in Advocacy, Innovation, Improving as well as Earning to Give in non-professional careers. At this stage in our research, it seems that degrees in more quantitative subjects improve your employment prospects and your flexibility, which is important for making a difference. The next most important thing is to pick a degree you expect to do well in. But, again, we’ll be refining that view as we explore more of the evidence.
One of the most important early career decisions many people face is what to study at university. This is the first of a series of posts on degree choice intended for people who mean to go to university. Degree choice plays an important role in your ability to make a difference later in life. People probably don’t put enough effort into systematically thinking about degree choice. In this post I’ll look at the importance of degree choice for professional careers and academic careers. In the next post I look at the importance for general career choice.
It’s getting closer to Christmas, and we’re running out of time to get presents for friends and family. It can be hard to work out what presents people will actually enjoy. An increasingly popular option is to make a donation on behalf of someone else as a present. What’s the best way to do that? Does it involve goats? You might be interested in Giving What We Can’s gift cards that let you donate to the world’s most effective charities .
We’re trying to build the world’s best career advice organisation that helps you make a difference. That’s a big project, and we’re growing fast. If you’d like to help us out, now’s your chance.
The folks at Charity Navigator get a lot of heat from people who care about charity evaluation. Their approach, up till now, has been mostly of the lamentable fundraising is evil variety. Things are about to change.
Lots of volunteering is definitely not actually about helping people. It usually doesn’t hurt, but neither does going for a walk. If what you really want is to volunteer your time to make the world a better place, what should you do?
When we talk about giving to charities there’s a dirty secret we try really hard not to mention. Some charities are “bad”.
Every day, almost everything we do is about prioritisation. Given how important prioritisation is, and how much people seem to care about doing it right, it’s startling that relatively little research is done into how best to prioritise the most important issues facing society.
What do you think the most important challenges facing humanity are…?
When I tell people that they might want to consider professional philanthropy as a career choice, they react in a lot of different ways. Some people raise an eyebrow. “Seb,” they say as if explaining something very obvious, “if everybody quit their jobs and took a high earning career to give money to charities, then there wouldn’t be anybody to give the money to!”
In my last article I looked at how it sometimes the best option is to take a high-earning job, even in an industry one thinks is harmful, in order to donate more to charity. There were a lot of caveats. The job has to earn more than you could have made otherwise to make up for the marginal harm you do by taking it. But, for a competitive job market in a mainstream job, that marginal harm is often much smaller than the total harm caused by the job.
High earning careers are often perceived as unethical careers. It’s not just that people think earning lots of money is bad, it’s also that a lot of the careers that make you really rich involve things that also seem immoral… This article will look at something called the replaceability effect. It’s the idea that, often, if you don’t take a job, someone else will take it. For some types of jobs, this is a very safe assumption, and it makes the harm you do by taking a job in an unethical industry much smaller than you might first guess.
80,000 Hours is built around the idea of effective altruism. What does that mean?