Topic 9: Career Foundations

Objectives

This week, the key idea is to start thinking about what makes a fulfilling career, and how to use your career to have a positive impact on the world. While only three readings are listed, they are quite extensive, so the predicted total reading time is approximately 1.5 hours.  

Note that this week, you will discuss these readings in-depth at a 1:1 meeting with your personal mentor.   

Essential readings (expected reading time 1.5h)

This week’s readings are part of a wider resource created by 80,000 Hours, titled ‘A guide to using your career to solve the world’s most pressing problems’. While the overall text would probably take two or three hours to read, much of it touches on ideas that have already been discussed in previous weeks, such as expected value theory, counterfactuals, long-termism, AI, and biosecurity.  

Thus, please read “Advice on how to read our advice” (5 min) before pushing ahead to the ‘Best opportunities’ section (45 min), which explores a wide range of careers that effectively contribute to solving pressing problems. Some of these roles will seem unrelated to your current degree or career plans. However, we really encourage you to be open-minded while looking at these priority paths – read about all roles that seem even tangentially related to your academic background. This is essential because one of the most common mistakes in career planning is considering too few options.  

Then, read the following section, titled ‘Career strategy: Other important career priorities.’ (25 min) This section includes strategic considerations, such as personal fit, the importance of exploration, avoiding accidental harm, accruing career capital, as well as considering your mental health and personal wellbeing.