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04/03/2020

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time to leave?

Thank you for this really useful information. I have a TT job at a research university—I am not sure if I want to stay. I'm kept here by a kind of inertia: "what else would I do?" ... I don't want to become a programmer or anything like that. I looked at the 80,000 hours website, it's helpful for imagining alternatives.

job marketer

Thank you very much for this!

Polaris Koi

Thank you for the useful post! It's really helpful to have a solid plan B (and C, and D) in place, and positions like this sound like they could be a plan A for many philosophers. Would you like to tell a little bit about what sorts of qualities would you say are these sorts of think tanks looking for in candidates with backgrounds in Philosophy? What sorts of CV lines are appreciated, what are less necessary?

Jason Schukraft

Hi Polaris,

Every think tank is different, so it's hard to say much in general about what they are looking for in a candidate. That disclaimer aside, I'd say the sort of think tanks I discuss in the post are looking for at least two things in a philosopher.

First, they're hoping you're going to bring some specialized knowledge in an area they care about. If you're serious about pursuing this kind of career, I'd recommend finding some organizations that appeal to you, reading as much of their research as you can, then trying to tailor your philosophical research so that it overlaps with the organization's research goals. If you can demonstrate (via, say, a publication) that you are already capable of doing the research that the think tank pursues, you are going to be a more attractive candidate.

Second, since many of these organizations are small, it would be helpful if you could somehow demonstrate that you can be a jack-of-all-trades. Quantitative skills are particularly valuable. If you've got an opportunity to build up competence in, say, economics or statistics, that would probably make you a more attractive candidate. Depending on the organization, competence in other areas would be useful. Examples include biology, government policy, environmental science, law, machine learning, or sociology. So if you have the opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research in any of these areas, it might be helpful to pursue it.

Polaris Koi

Thank you Jason, that's very helpful and will also help candidates already on the job market and draft cover letters that highlight the right sorts of CV lines.

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