#75 – Michelle Hutchinson on what people most often ask 80,000 Hours

Since it was founded, 80,000 Hours has done one-on-one calls to supplement our online content and offer more personalised advice. We try to help people get clear on their most plausible paths, the key uncertainties they face in choosing between them, and provide resources, pointers, and introductions to help them in those paths.



I (Michelle Hutchinson) joined the team a couple of years ago after working at Oxford's Global Priorities Institute, and these days I'm 80,000 Hours' Head of Advising. Since then, chatting to hundreds of people about their career plans has given me some idea of the kinds of things it’s useful for people to hear about when thinking through their careers.

So we thought it would be useful to discuss some on the show for everyone to hear.



Links to learn more, summary and full transcript.

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Among other common topics, we cover:



• Why traditional careers advice involves thinking through what types of roles you enjoy followed by which of those are impactful, while we recommend going the other way: ranking roles on impact, and then going down the list to find the one you think you’d most flourish in.

• That if you’re pitching your job search at the right level of role, you’ll need to apply to a large number of different jobs. So it's wise to broaden your options, by applying for both stretch and backup roles, and not over-emphasising a small number of organisations.

• Our suggested process for writing a longer term career plan: 1. shortlist your best medium to long-term career options, then 2. figure out the key uncertainties in choosing between them, and 3. map out concrete next steps to resolve those uncertainties.

• Why many listeners aren't spending enough time finding out about what the day-to-day work is like in paths they're considering, or reaching out to people for advice or opportunities.

• The difficulty of maintaining the ambition to increase your social impact, while also being proud of and motivated by what you're already accomplishing.



I also thought it might be useful to give people a sense of what I do and don’t do in advising calls, to help them figure out if they should sign up for it.



If you’re wondering whether you’ll benefit from advising, bear in mind that it tends to be more useful to people:



1. With similar views to 80,000 Hours on what the world’s most pressing problems are, because we’ve done most research on the problems we think it’s most important to address.

2. Who don’t yet have close connections with people working at effective altruist organisations.

3. Who aren’t strongly locationally constrained.



If you’re unsure, it doesn’t take long to apply, and a lot of people say they find the application form itself helps them reflect on their plans. We’re particularly keen to hear from people from under-represented backgrounds.



Also in this episode:



• I describe mistakes I’ve made in advising, and career changes made by people I’ve spoken with.

• Rob and I argue about what risks to take with your career, like when it’s sensible to take a study break, or start from the bottom in a new career path.

• I try to forecast how I’ll change after I have a baby, Rob speculates wildly on what motherhood is like, and Arden and I mercilessly mock Rob.



Get this episode by subscribing: type 80,000 Hours into your podcasting app. Or read the linked transcript.




Producer: Keiran Harris.

Audio mastering: Ben Cordell.

Transcriptions: Zakee Ulhaq.