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Opportunities

 

Working as a research assistant can be a rewarding complement to undergraduate studies. Students who are considering doing graduate work in economics or writing a senior thesis in economics are strongly encouraged to consider a research position in the department. The work that you do as well as the faculty contact that you make can serve as the foundation for your own research in your senior year. Find out more about research opportunities below.

Career placement at Columbia is handled by the Office of Career Education, but further information of particular interest to students of economics can also be found on this page.

The department receives announcements about a variety of opportunities for students throughout the year. These announcements are posted on the Econ Info for Students pages.

 

Research Opportunities for Current Students

During the academic year, students who work with a faculty member may register for either ECON GU4996 Research Credit or ECON GU4995 Research Credit. Students registered for GU4996 will receive either 1 or 2 college credits and be charged for 1 – 2 credits (which is relevant only to students who pay by the credit). To participate in a faculty research project at no cost, GS students have the option of registering for GU4995 for 1 credit for which they will not be billed. In both cases, students will receive a letter grade on their transcript indicating that they worked as an RA. However, in the case of GU 4995, the 1 credit may not be used to fulfill the minimum credit limit of a Columbia degree.  Research positions typically entail 5-7 hours of work per week. Research credit may not be used as a substitute for elective or seminar requirements in the major.

Finding a Position

At the beginning of the semester, the department sends out on the major listserv the names of faculty members who are looking for undergraduate research assistants. If you are not on the listserv then you may view these positions on the department wiki space Econ Info for Students. Note to access the wiki space, you must log in with your UNI and password.

Alternatively, if you have established a relationship with a professor (generally, in one of your classes) and he or she has already agreed to hire you as an assistant, then write to the DUS, Susan Elmes, and cc the faculty member on the email.

Skills

All faculty value RAs that work independently, pay attention to detail and are timely in their responses to faculty requests.  The skills needed to be a successful RA for a particular project will vary with the needs of the project. Some will require language skills and others, library or web search skills. However, the most common needs are for students with statistical and programming capabilities (Excel, R, Python, Matlab and STATA are the most popular languages). You will develop some of these skills in your economics coursework (especially in econometrics and the junior seminars). You can also develop these skills on your own (Columbia Librarieshas resources for you to do so) or in coursework in the Computer Science and Statistics departments.

Business School

The Business School has a number of RA programs. One of these is a summer intern program. You can find information about all of their programs here.

Federal Reserve Banks and Board

All of the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors have summer research internship programs. To find out about these programs, you should visit the website of the individual bank or the Board of Governors.

Other

On occasion the department receives information about RA positions in other units at Columbia (e.g. the Law School) or outside of Columbia. We post these positions on the department Econ Info for Students.  You may also use the search tips for full-time opportunities below.  Many organizations, including most US government agencies, that hire full-time RAs will also have summer internship positions.

Full-Time Research Opportunities for Graduates

Outside of a few large organizations (such as the Federal Reserve Bank of NY), there are very few recruiting events for full-time RA positions. Finding a position will require some research on your part.

Online Resources

NBER posts links to job listings both at the NBER and outside of the NBER. These are listings for positions primarily at academic institutions.

Resources for Economists is a website maintained by the AEA. On this page, there are multiple links to lists of organizations that frequently hire RAs. If you cannot easily find the job postings on the website for an organization, look under the “About” tab. Many companies put their employment opportunities and information under that tab. The primary links of interest would be:

Forecasting and Consulting –you can find both US and International based organizations in this list. Some of the firms linked to on this page are:

  • Conference Board
  • Moody’s Analytics
  • Macroeconomic Advisors
  • Charles River Associates
  • NERA
  • Cornerstone

Jobs, Grants, Grad School and Advice – most of these job listings are for post-doctoral positions. However, some of the websites listed under Job Openings also post positions for BAs.

Organizations and Associations – both academic and non-academic research organizations are listed here. Most are in the US but there are international listings as well. Non-academic research organizations include:

  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Brookings Institute
  • Mathematica
  • Rand
  • Urban institute

EDIRC maintains a database of over 13000 economics departments, institutes and research centers worldwide. You can search by country or by areas, field and function. The latter allows you to search within functional of field subcategories:

  • Functional
    • Think Tanks
    • International Organizations
    • Government Ministries
    • Regulatory Agencies
  • Fields (a sample)
    • Economic Development,
    • Financial economics, Risk and Insurance
    • Industrial Economics, Regulation
    • Public Policy
    • Regional and Urban Economics, Real Estate

J-PAL (Jameel Poverty Action Lab) hires research assistants to work in academic settings in the US as well as in the field overseeing ongoing research projects.

Indeed is a comprehensive job search website. Searching on “Economics Research Assistant” will yield many positions. Not all of these positions are applicable. However, many are, and may not be readily available through the listings above.

All of the Federal Reserve Banks, IMF, World Bank, UN and most US cabinet departments and government agencies hire research assistants. For US government agencies USAJOBS is a search portal.  However, even in the case of US government agencies it is often easier to visit the website of the particular agency or cabinet department to find available jobs. You can find links to most of these agencies and departments on the EDIRC page.

Columbia Business School has full time RA positons. You can find information about all of their RA programs here.

Econ Info for Students, the department wiki page, has a section titled “full-time opportunities”.  When the department receives ads for RA positions, we post them here.

Skills

Most if not all full-time RA positions will require statistical and programming skills. Large organizations that hire multiple RAs every year will be looking for students with basic to advanced expertise and a demonstrated ability to learn. These organizations are able to invest in helping you to improve your capabilities. Small organizations and academic positions generally require RAs to come with advanced programming skills in one or more languages (Excel, R, Python, Matlab and STATA are the most popular languages).

Many academic positions require students to pass a “data test” as part of the application process. These tests are designed to determine your data handling skills. While you are an undergraduate, you should take every opportunity to improve your data skills. One way would be to take classes that feature empirical projects such as a junior seminar, a senior seminar with a data analysis component, or an applied statistics class. Another is to work as an RA for a faculty member. You can learn programming skills on your own (see the resources at the  Columbia Libraries or on the Computing and Data Resources page on the department website ) or in courses in the Computer Science departments.  On occasion during the academic year, the department will hold programming tutorials that focus on some of the most common tasks included in the data tests administered by academic positions.

Career Opportunities

Studying economics provides a strong foundation to pursue a range of careers. Your coursework will train you to think analytically and critically when confronted with complex problems, develop your statistical skills to evaluate empirical evidence, and make you an effective writer and speaker. Our graduates have pursued careers in financial services, management consulting, litigation support, healthcare, data analytics, risk management, education, public policy and many more industries.

If you are curious about the range of career options, then you might be interested in viewing “A career in economics – it’s much more than you think” produced by the American Economic Association (AEA).

https://www.aeaweb.org/resources/students/careers/video/career-in-economics

Below, are some links that may help in your search for a career.

CCE

Your primary resource for guidance and assistance with your career search should be the Center for Career Education. They will help you find a career that matches your skills and interests, teach you to write a professional resume and cover letter, and to identify prospective employers. They regularly hold events such as job fairs, and recruiting sessions, as well as one-on-one advising.

Under the Career Exploration tab on the CCE website, you will find information specific to economics majors and specific to various industries.

  • What you can do with a degree in economics provides a summary of information from the most recent graduating student survey.
  • More detail on economics students from the graduating student survey can be found here .
  • Industries provides brief profiles and links to resources for pursuing a career in a number of popular industries such as consulting, environment and sustainability, financial services, government, and healthcare. For example, under Consulting, you will find basic information about a career in consulting, a profile of a successful candidate for these positions, specific resources to prepare for the case interview and general resources available at Columbia and elsewhere to search for a job in this industry.

Columbia Economics Society

Columbia Economics Society (CES) connects students to career opportunities by hosting educational and professional events throughout the year. Professional events include networking and recruiting for careers in finance and consulting and provide students a forum to meet with potential employers in a campus setting. A student-run organization, CES is one of the best resources after CCE for finding a

career, job, or internship. You can contact CES through their website or join the mailing list to discover upcoming events and learning opportunities.

Online Resources

Although CCE has a wealth of resources, there are many firms and industries that do not regularly recruit at Columbia. As a consequence, they may be underrepresented in the CCE data bases. Below are suggestions for exploring some of these career options. If you are primarily interested in a research position, then you should also consult the Research Opportunities page.

AEA

The American Economic Association includes information for economics majors.

  • Resources for students provides links for undergraduates to information regarding grad school preparation, undergraduate research opportunities, lists of US graduate programs and career information.
  • Careers has links to information on career earnings of economists and specific industries.

RFE

Resources for Economists is a website maintained by the AEA. Here, there are multiple links to lists of organizations that frequently hire economics majors. Many but not all of these positions will be as research assistants or analysts.  The primary links of interest would be:

Forecasting and Consulting –you can find both US and International based organizations in this list. Some of the firms linked to on this page are:

  • Conference Board
  • Moody’s Analytics
  • Macroeconomic Advisors
  • Charles River Associates
  • NERA
  • Cornerstone

Jobs, Grants, Grad School and Advice – most of these job listings are for post-doctoral positions. However, some of the websites listed under Job Openings also post positions for BAs.

Organizations and Associations – both academic and non-academic research organizations are listed here. Most are in the US but there are international listings as well. Non-academic research organizations include:

  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Brookings Institute
  • Mathematica
  • Rand
  • Urban institute

If you cannot easily find the job postings on the website for an organization, look under the “About” tab. Many companies put their employment opportunities and information under that tab on their website.

EDIRC

The EDIRC maintains a database of over 13000 economics departments, institutes and research centers worldwide. You can search by country or by areas, field and function. The latter allows you to search within functional or field subcategories:

Functional

  • Think Tanks
  • International Organizations
  • Government Ministries
  • Regulatory Agencies

Fields (a sample)

  • Economic Development
  • Financial economics, Risk and Insurance
  • Industrial Economics, Regulation
  • Public Policy
  • Regional and Urban Economics, Real Estate

Within each of these sub-lists, the organizations are sorted by country and in the case of the US by state. If your dream job is working at a think tank in Montana or on policy issues in Belgium, you should probably consult this website.

Economics Information for Students

On occasion the department receives job advertisements directed at our students. When we do so, we post them on the department Econ Info for Students page. To access the page, you will need to log in with your UNI and password.

 

 

 

 

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)
Mail Code 3308  
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)

Mail Code 3308

420 West 118th Street

New York, NY 10027

Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.