Find your best long-term career path

Find your best long-term career path

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A process to find your best long-term career path

Source:
Source: xkcd
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Generate a long list of options [20 mins]
Select at least 5 paths from our career paths.

Note: Career path = journalist, software engineer, academic etc.

Consider more options than you think you need to.

Creativity is a numbers game — brainstorm more options, and it’s more likely one of them will be a good one. Picasso painted a tonne of paintings; not all were good, but the market had more options to select from, increasing his chances of hitting a winner.

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Do quick & dirty research on your options [2 hours]

Use the links in our career paths to understand the entry criteria, what the job involves, and what it sets you up to do (its career capital).

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Narrow down your options [2 hours]
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Make a copy of this Airtable. (Bottom right of page > Copy base)
Score each option out of 5
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Take small steps to explore your top options [5 min+]

Scroll down and select the career path you’re interested. Start at the cheaper steps and work your way down the list.

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Bonus: how to learn more from an experiment
Write a hypothesis beforehand
  • A hypothesis could be something like "when working on this project, my energy (measured from 1-5) will be on average 1 point lower at the end of the day than at the start".
  • You should aim to make your hypothesis measurable, so that you can be sure whether it has been proven true or false.
  • You can build up proven and disproven hypotheses, and start to get a more accurate image of what kind of jobs you excel at, and remain energized in.
Put time aside to reflect
  • Sometimes, when you are just beginning to explore your options, formulating hypotheses explicitly might restrict what you learn. At this point, it can be better to just spend some time reflecting on your experience.
  • An example of a reflection on testing fit.
  • Scheduling some time on your calendar which is exclusively for reflecting on your test is great for this. It makes sure you actually do it, and it allows you to be more present throughout the experience because you don't have to be critical throughout — you know you've set time aside for being critical next Sunday.

Explore your top options with small, active steps

Note: skills take a while to develop and motivation often comes after having some success. So don’t be discouraged if it’s hard learning a new skill for a while.

Academia

[5 min] Answer these questions (the more ticks the stronger the fit):
Can you think of the last time you spent >1 hour investigating something because you were really curious about it? Was that in the last 2 weeks?
Relative to your 10 closest friends, are you the 1 or 2 most detail-oriented?
Do you intensely debate ideas on the internet or with your friends?
Do you enjoy spending long periods of time working alone? (Most academic work is fairly isolated.)
[30 min] List and compare academic departments you might be interested in
Open the most interesting 10
Intuitively narrow it down to the top 5
Compare the top 5 using this table of criteria
Use this table to compare your options
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You can make a copy of this Airtable. (Bottom right of page > Copy base)

[60 min] Email someone to conduct an informational interview.
Cold emailing works and more people should do it.
Cold emails and twitter are a godsend for people who have high potential, but lack the opportunity to realize it. A few emails or tweets to a person you don’t know can literally change your life (they changed mine for sure!) If you can demonstrate that you have high potential and/or can be useful to somebody, you should just email/tweet them and let them know about it. If you’re thinking “well, I’m not impressive enough” you’re likely wrong. - Alexey Guzey
Decide on an area you want to explore
Find grad students on university departments websites
Skim the publications to see if any are exciting to you
Make a list of 5-10, and email them saying you’d like to ask them about the area
[2 hours] Summarise and critique a paper
Find a paper by selecting a category you’re interested in on Google Scholar
Google one of the top journals
Select a recent paper that seems interesting
Read the paper, and take notes as you go
Summarise the findings in plain language. What was the methodology used? Why do the results matter (if they do…)?
Can you name any limitations of the paper? Google “[discipline] + common research design flaws” or see if any from this list apply.
[2 - 10 hours] Explore disciplines with online courses
Search for courses on MOOC list
Sign up to 1-3 (drop the ones you’re not learning much from)
Put time in your calendar each week to work on it

Communications

[5 min] Answer these questions (the more ticks the stronger the fit):
Have you ever tried public speaking (e.g. at school, debate competitions)? Did you get any feedback on how you did?
Think of the last time you had to write something that wasn’t an essay for a class. Can you remember where you were when you were writing? Did you get
[6 hours] Conduct research and write a blog post
Choose a topic
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Ideas for what to write about

The topic doesn’t really matter, since this is just a test of how this process goes.

What have you read in the last 2 weeks did you find interesting?

Write up a summary. What were the main points made? Why did you find it interesting?

Read about the topic, making sure you’re taking notes as you go (gotta build that second brain)
Write an outline of the most important points
Look back over the outline and think about what you can cut or distill, that isn’t central to the most interesting or important points.

Cybersecurity

[5 min] Answer these questions (the more ticks the stronger the fit):
Have you tried programming? Did you get sucked into figuring out how to make your code work?
Try out small steps for software engineering

Data science

[5 min] Answer these questions (the more ticks the stronger the fit):
Think of your last math class. Where were you? Did you enjoy solving the problems?
When was the last time you tried to critique numbers that were reported in the news, about a journal article, or reported by someone you know? Was that in the last 2 weeks?
Have you tried programming? Did you get sucked into figuring out how to make your code work?
[10 min] Solve a problem question on statistics
Find the hardest practice question you already know how to do.

(You probably already know how to calculate mean, so maybe start with calculating the standard deviation of a population.)

Were you sucked in or did you have to force yourself to pay attention?
If you did one that was too easy, try watching the lectures for something you didn’t understand yet, and then do the problem question.
[4 hours] Build a Covid-19 Dashboard in Tableau
[5 hours] Predict who’s going to get heart disease

Diplomacy

[5 min] Answer these questions (the more ticks the stronger the fit):
[2 hours] Do a diplomacy case study
Give a presentation
Network
Write a cold email

Finance

[1 hours] Calculate Alphabet’s trailing 12 month price to earnings ratio (TTM PE)
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PE ratios:

In brief, PE ratio is a measure of a stock’s value.

As an equation: Price to Earnings Ratio (P/E) = Equity Value / Net Income

[10 mins] Read about P/E ratios
[20 mins] Follow this example
Take a company’s latest closing share price is $20.00 and its diluted EPS in the last twelve months (LTM) is $2.00.
[30 minutes] Use the same formula to calculate Alphabet’s TTM PE
[3 hours] Use Google Sheets to do a discounted cashflow analysis
[2 mins] Find a recent IPO on NASDAQ
[28 mins] Read about discounted cash flow (DCF)
[90 mins] Follow these steps.

Founding Effective Projects

[8 min] Take Charity entrepeneurship’s founder quiz
[15 min] Watch a video on how to launch a product
[17 min] Listen to Varsha Venugopal on how she founded her non profit in India (03:17 – 20:30)
[2 hours] Practice building a team
Brainstorm ideas of things you’re excited to work on
Recruit at least 3 other people to help you run an event (e.g. bring in a speaker, host a decision, lead an after school volunteer trip)

Grantmaker

[20 mins] Critique a grant
Choose a grant recently made (e.g. from EA Funds Global Health and Development Fund)
Write out the most likely reasons the grant isn’t going to have much impact

Journalist

[6 hours] Conduct research and write a blog post
Choose a topic
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Ideas for what to write about

The topic doesn’t really matter, since this is just a test of how this process goes.

What have you read in the last 2 weeks did you find interesting?

Write up a summary. What were the main points made? Why did you find it interesting?

Read about the topic, making sure you’re taking notes as you go (gotta build that second brain)
Write an outline of the most important points
Look back over the outline and think about what you can cut or distill, that isn’t central to the most interesting or important points.

Management consulting

Marketing

[2 hours] Fill in a digital marketing canvas
Think about the most recent online product you bought but don’t visit the webpage just yet.
Make a copy of this:
Fill in a digital marketing canvas answering questions like:
What problem did you want this product to solve in your life?
What are alternatives to the product in your life? Could you have gone without buying anything?
Why did you buy this version, instead of another company’s?

Operations & organisation building

Policy, politics, and civil service

[6 hours] Conduct research and write a blog post
Choose a topic
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Ideas for what to write about

The topic doesn’t really matter, since this is just a test of how this process goes.

What have you read in the last 2 weeks did you find interesting?

Write up a summary. What were the main points made? Why did you find it interesting?

Read about the topic, making sure you’re taking notes as you go (gotta build that second brain)
Write an outline of the most important points
Look back over the outline and think about what you can cut or distill, that isn’t central to the most interesting or important points.

Software engineering

[5 min] Answer these questions (the more ticks the stronger the fit):
Think of your last math class. Where were you? Did you enjoy solving the problems?
Do you enjoy puzzles?
Are you curious?
Do you like learning?
Have you ever taught yourself something?

Tech

See ideas for: