June 2016: How to spend 80,000 hours

A year ago I wrote about Effective Altruism, a movement that promotes using evidence-based data to not just do good, but to do the most good. Now I am running into college students and recent grads researching their careers by using the website 80,000 Hours (the number of hours in a career), which has an online career guide, coaching, and data to launch a high impact career.

I wrote about Jason Trigg, who works for a high-frequency trading firm. Trigg estimates that a $2,500 donation to the Against Malaria Foundation can save one life, so that by giving away half of his salary (well more than $100k), he can save many more lives than he could on an academic’s salary.

“A lot of people, they want to make a difference and end up in the Peace Corps and in the developing world without running water.” Trigg says, “I can donate some of my time in the office and make more of a difference.”                                        Washington Post, 5-31-13

Will MacAskill, co-founder and President of 80,000 Hours, doesn’t recommend working for a charity straight out of college. The reason: he says that most don’t have social impact and the first priority should be to build career capital and general-purpose skills.

“If you’re aiming to do good with your career, you should be thinking, “How can I do a lot of good in the long run? In particular, further on in my career, when I’m most influential?”                                                                          Will MacAskill, Vox Politics, 8-3-2015

Interesting. I’ve always recommended the opposite – live overseas now, work for a nonprofit while you can afford to. What matters most, is that the question is being called.June

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