Stay Curious, Stay Inspired

Sandra Spirovska '12, PhD student in Economics

Major: Economics and French

Graduate Program: Economics Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

My MHC education and major in Economics have shaped my post-graduate life in crucial ways. After graduating from MHC, I worked as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. I am now starting my PhD in Economics at University of Wisconsin-Madison, which will help me shed some light on why income inequality is increasing in the United States, what its economic and societal costs are and which policies are most effective in addressing it.

My micro and macro theory courses helped me build economic intuition, and econometrics and the various seminars I took drew me closer to economic research. I expanded on this knowledge by doing both empirical and qualitative research in my advanced courses. I was fascinated by the power of economic policy to affect lives across the board, and I pursued my passion for macroeconomics as a research assistant at the Boston Fed.

At the Boston Fed, I worked on macroeconomic and international finance research projects. I collected and managed data, and used Stata and Matlab to do empirical analysis and modeling. I also coauthored a paper on the estimation and size of the fiscal multiplier, which was one of my most valuable experiences. Most of all, I realized that I truly enjoy asking tough questions with important policy implications, which is what led me to a PhD in Economics.

For those interested in economic research and an academic career, I strongly suggest taking math courses and gaining some research experience, whether it is through an internship with a professor or writing a thesis. Most importantly, stay curious and creative!

PS. Doing economic research is a delicate task: it requires patience in dealing with inevitable data or model issues, willingness to spend a lot of time on a given research question, and ability to accept that not all research projects will produce significant results. But the implications of potential discoveries on issues you're most passionate about---whether it is income inequality and intergenerational mobility, the gender wage gap, optimal tax rates, microlending or financial reform---will inspire you, bring you to tears and make all your efforts worthwhile.