Job Market

Thoughts and recommendations on the job market based on my experience.

My Experience

My first experience in the econ job market was in 2018-2019. During the last three years of my PhD I had worked at various start-ups, participated in research summer experiences, and did consulting work. From those experiences, I had gotten two pre-market offers at the post-doc level. Since the offers came from current and past employers, they both waived any search requirements and made me offers for direct recruiting. Both offers were good fits and interested me (1-2 years at 70k - 80k). However, I decided that even if I were to end up choosing either one, I wanted to experience the market to explore other options or at the very least, get that first “dry-run” to help me prepare for a future job market adventure.

I never understood why people cast such a wide net applying to 200 places (i.e., I don’t think I would be happy at 200 places even considering the information gap and other sources of uncertainty). My first time around I applied to a about 25 positions:

  • Think Tanks (RAND Corporation)
  • Private Sector (Microsoft)
  • Regional Feds (Philadelphia, St. Louis)
  • Academia in the U.S. (e.g., GWU, Georgetown, UMD College Park)
  • Academia – international (e.g., Ecole Polytechnique, UBC)
  • Postdoc (J-PAL)

I also got a reach out through the URM network from CNA (FFRDC) – kudos to Henry S. Griffis for that.

I probably didn’t put too much effort into it partly because I already had good options to fallback to. I interviewed with CNA and J-PAL.

For J-PAL, I interviewed with:

For CNA, I interviewed with:

Both interviews were great and was a pleasure to meet them and learn more about their work.

For CNA, I didn’t get a fly-out. J-PAL was running post-market so I couldn’t wait for a decision then (I think that search was called off due to funding issues in the end). In the end, I went with my postdoc at the Biocomplexity Institute & Initiative at the University of Virginia.

Fast-forward a year into my postdoc, I considered accepting a permanent offer with Pumas-AI. However, I felt I rather finish my second appointment with UVA and try the job market proper. I still worked with the team as a consultant and gained skills relevant to that position in case I pursue that career the following year.

During the second year as a postdoc I went back to consider pre-market offers. I considered two offers: the one from Pumas-AI and another opportunity working with a colleague managing the data science division at a new start-up branch of an established company. Those offers were better this time around in terms of attractiveness and competitiveness (100k - 120k). Once again, I had to do a lot of soul-searching. The deciding factor was probably two positions which really called to me that showed up in the job market: (1) tenure-track positions at the School of Data Science at UVA, and (2) a research economist opportunity with the National Economics Research Group at the Bureau of Economic Analysis. I decided then to forgo the pre-market offers and try my luck in the job market once again.

This time around I participated in the AEA Job Market Bootcamp (AEA JMB) led by Francisca Antman and Trevon Logan. In addition, there were many others who contributed with their time and commitment leading discussions, mentoring, and workshops.

This time around, I applied to a few more places:

Reach outs from Amazon:

  • Sr. Data Scientist at the Customer Insights and Research Team
  • Economist at the Reduced Form Causal Analysis (RFCA)

I had interviews with IDA, MITRE, BEA, AMZ, and UVA.

I had virtual “fly-outs” with BEA and UVA (teaching track; research track ones withdrew – timing).

Had an offer from BEA and accepted it.

Lessons Learned

It’s all about the fit.

The most relevant advice I can give is to look for fit. At least in my case, the two places I had “fly-outs” from were to my understanding the two best fit for me; and also my top two choices. In some of the interviews, I felt there was quite a bit of overlap but that certain positions were looking for things that “weren’t what I had been doing on a day-to-day basis for the last couple years”.

José Bayoán Santiago Calderón
José Bayoán Santiago Calderón
Research Economist

🇵🇷 Economist by training. Data scientist / software developer by accident.