An animated and enthusiastic crowd of economics students attended the fourth annual Economics Careers Evening, the fourth major joint event being arranged this academic year by the Carleton Undergraduate Economics Society (CUES) and the Carleton Graduate Economics Society (CGES), held in the Tory Building on Thursday, January 29.
Four recent Carleton economics graduates, William Manning-Dewar (MA/14; Competition Bureau), Stephen van der Werf (MA/14; Justice Canada), Irena Dodik (BA/04; Procter and Gamble), and Faisal Farah (BA/12; Export Development Canada) gave excellent, entertaining, and informative presentations on their experiences in the job market, focusing on who they are, how they got into the study of economics, how they got their current jobs, what they actually do in the workplace, and a wealth of carefully considered advice for soon-to-be-graduating students.
Interestingly, what came through in many of the presentations was how positively employers look upon students with a qualification in economics: An economics qualification provides a clear signal that the holder of the qualification can read and write, do math, use computers, analyze things, and possesses a keen and inquiring mind. Moreover, even if the job that you get with your economics qualification does not require you to actually use the specific economics knowledge that you gained during your education, the fact that you have got rigorous training in economics gives you the ability to take on almost any new challenge with confidence, due to the fact that you are used to thinking in a logical way—identifying relevant considerations, seeking out empirical evidence, weighing up costs and benefits, and tracing through the consequences of different alternatives—never forget the law of unintended consequences!
Specific advice included the value of improving your writing skills, work experience, and networking:
Employers want you to be able to put your ideas on paper or at least on the keyboard! Indeed, soft skills, more generally, are really, really important. Take advantage of any opportunities you can find to improve your communications skills: Join a club or society, take an executive role, volunteer for something, organise things, make a point of meeting new people, give a presentation, and so on.
Try to gain some kind of work experience. This is not always easy, but think of co-op programs, internships, and, especially for the federal government, the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP). Check out the Web sites of prominent corporations.
Finally, the importance of networking cannot be overstated! Join LinkedIn today. Maintain connections with your classmates. Let people know that you are looking for a job. Check out Carleton’s Co-op and Career Services and the new economics chapter of the Carleton University Alumni Association. Alumni are often willing and able to give advice and help—they know what it’s like to be looking for a first job! Be persistent!
Many thanks go to the four presenters for giving so unstintingly of their time and energy and for sharing their great insights into the job-market process. It was really appreciated!
Also, many thanks go to Tyler MacNeill and Gurinder Singh Dhunna, Presidents of CUES and CGES, respectively, for their superb organizational skills.
Financial support for the event was provided by the Faculty of Public Affairs, the Department of Economics, CUSA, and the GSA.
Students (and others) wishing to find out more about CUES and CGES and their activities are encouraged to like them on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/pages/Carleton-Undergraduate-Economics-Society/156624231094405 and www.facebook.com/groups/164503386968329).