The Department of Economics at USC held its first Econ PhD alumni conference on June 9-10, 2023, under the leadership of Chair Romain Ranciere. The two-day event featured 22 presentations by presenters from 21 different universities worldwide, covering various topics, including Applied Econometrics, Development Economics, International Trade, Macroeconomics, and more. The Keynote speaker was Prof. Rob Metcalfe from USC, who underscored the rising reputation of USC’s Department of Economics, especially in Applied Economics and Environmental Economics, and discussed his research initiatives in collaboration with leading technology companies. Professor Metacalfe’s research uses field experimental methods to understand human behavior in consumer markets and within organizations. He is particularly interested in measuring welfare in the presence of behavioral imperfections and externalities, such as pollution, climate change, congestion, and market power.
Economic research in academia and the private sector are becoming increasingly intertwined, as the private sector offers a wealth of data and opportunities to run field experiments in real-life settings. Econ Ph.D. students interested in working in tech should try to find an advisor with connections to the private sector as this provides the opportunity to work with interested “real world” problems and help facilitate connections with hiring managers.
In addition to the presentations, a panel of five Econ PhD alumni discussed their experience in applying economic analysis in industries ranging from automotive to international finance. The conference aimed to strengthen the ties within the econ PhD alumni community and foster collaboration between academia and industry. Are you an econ PhD student interested in working in the private sector? Feel free to reach out to chat about what it’s like to work in tech. Students are often interested in the degree of research freedom you have in the private sector, whether you can still collaborate with academics, and what percentage of time you spend on “real” research vs. more administrative tasks.
You can read more about the conference here.