One branch of the effective altruism movement emphasizes the rigorous evaluation of charities. A second branch is focused on a different but related aspect, career choice. Choosing a career to benefit others actually strikes me as a bit of a downer–get out the sackcloth and ashes, repent, renounce your sins and all that.
The 80,000 hours research charity, co-founded by William MacAskill, can be a bit preachy but they have assembled and reviewed a large amount of research on careers–not just on what makes a career useful but also what makes it enjoyable. Young people spend surprisingly little time thinking about a career. There’s a lot more advice about choosing and getting into a college than there is serious advice about choosing a major let alone figuring out a practical plan towards a career.
The 80,000 hours career guide, offers quite a bit of practical, scientifically-based advice and it’s not the usual join the Peace Corp kind of thing.
Here’s two lovely hard-headed graphs that skewer common wisdom and give a taste of their approach:
If you know a young person nearing college, the career guide is well worth a few hours of their time.