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Cool article! I enjoyed reading it. Seems like a great way to apply effective altruism style thinking into a different cause area.

My main takeaway from this is currently domestic aid is not neglected but highly ineffective. Making something that already has lots of resources going into it (and a lot more people willing to put resources into it) much more effective can be extremely impactful.

I'm curious how likely it is for US domestic aid to be a lot better given that a lot of people care about making it go well / political resistance.

Thanks again for this article!

I have mixed feelings about this because I don't know enough about the situation.


  1. There are things that people are naturally better at and worse at, and the law of comparative advantage does make sense vs. There are things that people could get good at but don't because they don't believe in themselves and don't try aka imposters syndrome. (I think this may result in some lack of diversity in tech, STEM, EA, etc.)

I think the EA community might lean more towards trying really hard to match people with what they are good at / not bad at. I think the EA community may underestimate that when people try and want to get better at a skill (or that they aren't good at something because they don't believe in themselves and don't try to get better), they can get much better at it and surprise themselves and others by how much progress they've made.

It seems to me that community building is what excites you a lot at the moment, which means that there is a lot of potential for improvement because you care about improving.

Are there other things that also excite you as well? It could be good to enjoy community building and try other things too (though I realize that this may come with a lot of emotional baggage)! (As someone who's been rejected from community building grants, I still feel the emotional baggage and it still makes it hard to make clear-headed decisions)

  1. CEA has a different perspective than the community members who are seeing the community building happen on the ground. I think that getting feedback from the people who in your community is more accurate. I agree with notabot that grant-seeking and community building are different skills. I also agree with Dancer with it being very plausible that CEA made the right decision given the little information they had, but it doesn't mean that you did anything wrong with your community building.

EA Mental Health and nEArodivergent discord server: https://discord.gg/e6Nxy4N5xu Not super active at the moment, but it does exist.

EA Mental Health and nEArodivergent discord server: https://discord.gg/e6Nxy4N5xu Not super active at the moment, but it does exist.

This isn't exactly related to the post, but I am a little bit wary about the connotation of more students should have internships / work experience at EA Orgs rather than corporate roles.

I talked to some EAs that say that it's good for EA uni students to get a job outside of EA first. This makes me think that the issue of EA Orgs not having that many uni interns aren't actually a big problem.

Why it may be good to pursue a corporate role:

  • Mistakes made earlier in my career will be much more low stakes
  • Experiencing the world outside the EA bubble
  • Skills such as dealing with people in a workplace, learning how a company runs things are transferrable
  • Financial independence from EA
  • Other personal reasons (financial independence in general, funding for self-improvement stuff like coaching and good therapy)

On the other hand, there are good reasons for EA Interships

  • EA internships can be good for community building because it makes uni students more excited about EA!
  • students can test fit for wide variety of cause areas sooner rather than later.
  • Depending on what you are interested in doing, the skills might be less transferrable (From Charity Entrepreneurship: "Our data shows that a founder who starts now and runs a charity for three years will outperform (at running a charity) someone who does two years work experience in a consultancy and then starts running a charity for a year." -https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/xHC9AYLGjMoZbEWkX/ce-who-underrates-their-likelihood-of-success-why-applying)

My knee jerk reaction was also that 30-40% was an unreasonably high number, however, I kind of disagree with "Unreasonably large estimates shouldn't be allowed to frame the discussion just because we can't reject them with model evidence yet" since it's hard to know what numbers are reasonable in the first place. It also provides a good starting point to the discussion and to challenge my assumptions on why I automatically want to reject the 30-40%.

I feel like certain populations (particularly women) tend to underestimate their abilities, so I find this comment pretty discouraging. My current take is that a lot of people think they aren't good enough for XYZ, but if they take a good stab at XYZ in an environment that is encouraging they may realize that they might be able to do XYZ after all.

I think that a lot of people naturally think that they are "not math people" when they could actually be much better at math.

And I don't think that you don't have to be the best at math or XYZ to contribute. I think that as long as you're willing to put some effort and are open-minded and willing to grow, you'll probably surprise yourself at how much you're able to do.

@Olivia I'm honestly very impressed with you because you've shown a lot of good traits by making this post. It's clear that you deeply care about making a difference. You were bold and took the initiative to open up about your insecurities. You were agentic in posting this on the forum. You're willing to take feedback from the audience Keep it up!

++ having a sociology background is great Not sure, but I think Vaidehi may have also studied Sociology at a non-Ivy+ school as well, and she seems to have done some cool stuff in the EA community too.

Not sure how relevant this comment is, but as someone who studies more technical stuff, I am honestly impressed with people who study things like sociology. The sheer number of papers and essays you guys pump out and how you have to think about large social systems honestly scares me! English / history classes were some of the hardest for me in high school!

I also think you might find some of Cal Newport's books helpful (So Good They Can't Ignore You, maybe even How To Be A High School Superstar). He shares a lot of encouraging stories about people who become good at what they do without being super impressive beforehand!

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