Record Set by Our Doctoral Graduates on the Job Market

By Julie Cullen

This was a record year in terms of the number of our graduate students on the job market. We had 28 students seeking positions as economists!

Demand was fortunately strong, despite the federal hiring freeze. The freeze blocked access to key agencies where we regularly place students, such as the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury. In contrast, this far into the economic recovery, the fiscal health of academic institutions has been restored and we placed a much higher share of students in academic positions than we do in a typical year. The rising number of big-data positions in technology companies also helped to fill the gap. A testament to the quality of the cohort is that, despite the record numbers, our graduates’ outcomes were outstanding.

Academic Jobs

Two-thirds of graduates chose academic positions at leading national or international institutions.

This group includes representatives across the entire array of research fields. Macroeconomists Leland Farmer and Nelson Lind had broad success on the market and ultimately accepted offers at the University of Virginia and Emory University, respectively. Erin Wolcott and Jue “Jessie” Wang, also macroeconomists, secured positions at two of the nation’s best liberal arts institutions. Wolcott will be joining the faculty at Middlebury College, and Wang will be at Furman University. A fifth macroeconomist, Wenbin Wu, is off to Fudan University, achieving his goal of obtaining a position at an elite university in China.

Newly engaged couple Isla Globus-Harris and Erik Lillethun both found positions at Colgate University in their respective fields of environmental economics and microeconomic theory. Our other environmental economist, Jeffrey Shrader, will have the luxury of spending a postdoctoral year at the New York University Institute for Policy Integrity before starting as an assistant professor at the University of Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. All three of the other microtheorists will be taking up academic posts. John Rehbeck will be staying stateside at Ohio State University, while Zachary Breig and Zheng Huang will be heading overseas to the University of Queensland in Australia and Nankai University in China, respectively. The three econometricians were also all successfully recruited by academic institutions, though again in three separate countries: Roy Allen will be at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, Qihui Chen will be at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Yinchu Zhu will be staying stateside at the University of Oregon.

About half of the remaining applied microeconomists chose academic positions. Two starting adventures abroad are labor/political economist Mitch Downey, who is off to Stockholm University’s Institute for International Economic Studies, and labor/public economist Claudio Labanca, who will join Monash University in Australia. Development economist Shanti Manian found a great match with a position at Washington State University. Urban economists Killian Heilmann and Wei You will have the opportunity to continue to develop their research agendas in attractive postdoctoral positions at University of Southern California Dornsife and New York University Furman Centers, respectively.

Government, Nonprofit and Private Sector Jobs

One-third will be starting their careers as researchers in first-rate government, nonprofit or private sector institutions:

Unlike in past years, government opportunities in the U.S. were quite limited for this cohort. David Coyne, a public economist, is the only student who will be joining a government agency in Washington, D.C.. He will join the Federal Trade Commission.

Rather, several of our candidates were recruited to positions in nonprofit and private sector organizations with agendas that dovetail with their research interests. Elizabeth Hastings, a public economist studying federal procurement, is joining the RAND Corporation. Political economist Onyi Lam, who is an expert in text analysis and machine learning techniques, will be applying those techniques as a researcher at the Pew Research Center. Boris Wong, a public economist specializing in pensions and retirement savings, will be joining Vanguard; Mike Sharifi, a macroeconomist specializing in household finance, will be joining Goldman Sachs; while Sieuwerd Gaastra, a public economist interested in human capital production, is going to Compass Lexecon. Finally, Amazon once again opened its doors to students from a variety of fields who have a shared interest in leveraging big data: macroeconomist Irina Zhecheva, public economist Sam Young and behavioral economist Vincent Leah-Martin.

Congratulations to the graduate students, and thanks to the faculty and staff who supported them. All the hard work justifies the ongoing and improving reputation of the UC San Diego Department of Economics for favoring academia, government and industry with top-notch economists.

Published by the Department of Economics faculty and staff.
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