Year of Graduation: 2013
Graduate School: Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Graduate Degree: Master of Science in Economics (2019)
Current Position/Location: Labor Economist, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, MA
Please give a brief description of your current position.
I work alongside a team of other economists within the research unit for the state of Massachusetts' Department of Labor. In my current role, I analyze, forecast and produce various macroeconomic statistics, mainly labor market indicators, for the state. This role affords me the opportunity to work closely with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government officials as well as the general public to deliver pertinent labor market information.
What path did you follow to get to your current position?
After graduating with my Bachelor's in Economics from CSB/SJU in 2013, I returned home to the Bahamas where I worked as a Senior Statistical Assistant within the research department at The Central Bank of The Bahamas. In this role, I worked closely with other economists to deliver information on the Bahamian economy. This role solidified my interest in economics even further, especially macroeconomics. I knew that in order to progress in my career it would be beneficial for me to obtain a graduate degree in economics where I could expand my knowledge in various economic theories and research methods. After four years at the Central Bank, I went to graduate school at Drexel University where I obtained my Master of Science in economics in 2019. Upon graduating and entering the job market, I knew I wanted to be in a role that was more so centered around macroeconomics, so I focused on roles that would place me in that realm. I applied for my current position, was interviewed and offered a job.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
Three things that I suggest:
- Make the most out of your economics classes and establish sound relationships with your professors. Believe it or not, your research projects do matter and are often used by prospective employers to assess your capabilities. So, take time to ensure that you do your projects to the best of your ability and even your homework assignments; you would be surprised how closely they apply to what you would be asked to do in an economist role. Also ensuring that you have professors who can vouch for you is important when applying to not only graduate school but jobs surrounding economics as well. One of my professors from CSB/SJU has been crucial in me obtaining my first job at the Central Bank, getting into graduate school and obtaining my current role.
- Map out a career goal and work towards that goal. In my senior year of high school, I decided that I wanted to be an economist and everything I have done since then has been in alignment with that goal. This requires you doing detailed research on the career path that you desire and figuring out how best to go about realizing that path. A major key in planning/strategizing is networking.
- If you are interested in a career path centered around economics, the best thing you can do is to immerse yourself in economics itself. Take time to read about current events and how they impact the economy, research various schools of thoughts and how they apply to things that are happening in the economy now, participate in economic discussions etc. ... All of these things will help you to become familiar with economics and make it easier for you to apply to your studies and career. It may also help you to find economics to be more interesting.
What skills are important in your field?
In my field, understanding various statistical methods, economic research techniques, macroeconomics and microeconomic principles as well as having sound written and oral presentation skills are all crucial. Also, having experience with various statistical packages such as STATA, EViews SAS and R helps a great deal with your research.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position?
The most satisfying thing is knowing that the data and charts you produce help to advance policies aimed at bettering the community in which you are a part of. Another aspect I find satisfying is forecasting various statistics and they come out to be spot on with the actual data. Very satisfying!
In my current role, I forecast unemployment statistics even in "smaller" parts of the states, so some familiarity with these areas and the types of industries in these areas is crucial when predicting labor statistics. I was very new to the state when I moved here so I did not have the slightest clue on what was happening in these local areas. However, over time I learned more about these smaller communities to better help with my forecasting capabilities.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I was very active while at CSB/SJU; for starters I was an E-scholar which I talked about in my interviews straight out of college. In my interview at the Central Bank in particular, I knew they were interested in the various experiences I had as an E-scholar. I was also president of ENACTUS during my senior year and used my various experiences in this role in my subsequent jobs and internships. In addition to this, I was the treasurer of the Economics Club and an international student mentor. However, all of these activities exposed me to various administrative skills, leadership opportunities, networking, and budgeting for projects. By the time I started working, these experiences made me more confident in my work and my ability to innovate new working methods for my work team.