Each summer, a number of economics faculty members typically hire student Research Assistants (RAs). Qualifications that are most in demand include knowledge of econometrics, experience working with data, and in some cases computer programming skills. If you are interested in such a job, taking Economics 255 or equivalent will be often be very helpful, and taking one or more computer programming courses can be invaluable. The work of a summer research assistant will vary in nature, from research in the usual sense–estimating econometric equations, writing software for economic modeling, doing library searches and writing summaries of articles, searching for data, and writing literature reviews–to much lower level things like photocopying, proofreading, filing, preparing mass mailings, and entering data into spreadsheets or word processing programs. We try to make sure every RA has a mix of the more exciting and more mundane things to do, and in any event we will let you know in advance of your accepting a position just what it is we expect you to do.
In January or early February of a typical year, we send out a memo to all economics and political economy majors, as well as sophomores who have taken any of the core economics courses, requesting applications for research assistant positions (the link to the latest available memo is available above). Many student research assistants are matched with professors through this process. If you are interested in a summer research assistant job, it can also be a good idea to directly contact a professor you know well and with whom you are interested in working, in order to inquire about summer employment opportunities. Most decisions about summer employment and funding are made in early- to mid-March. If you have any questions about summer research assistant opportunities in economics, contact the Economics Department’s Research Director.
For academic year 2020-2021, the Research Director is Prof. Tara Watson.