Internships Help Undergrads Build Research Skills

Monday, Jan 24, 2022

Last summer,  four undergraduate students received JRCPPF financial support to sharpen their economics, finance, and policy research skills through internship experiences.

JRCPPF’s summer internship program supports Princeton undergraduates pursuing unpaid summer opportunities in the areas of financial markets and public policy either in the U.S. or abroad. JRCPPF also funds undergraduate students from Princeton and other institutions seeking to work as research assistants for Center faculty and postdoctoral associates.

The internships varied in focus and geographic location, but all provided the students with very valuable experiences that helped them explore and define potential career paths. All the students found that having strong programming and data skills was very important for a successful and rewarding experience.  Very often the first task of the internship was cleaning/compiling data, once this was done, the next task would be actual research/policy design.  Good programming skills, especially in Python, STATA, or R, allowed the students to be done quickly with data cleaning and to move on to more meaningful tasks such as modeling and policy design.

Shanielle Allen who recently graduated from the University of the West Indies, Mona with a first-class honors B.S. in Public Policy & Management assisted JRCPPF Postdoctoral Associate Karsten Mueller. She gathered and analyzed historical data on the impact of the 1831 Sam Sharpe Rebellion in Jamaica, during which many sugarcane plantations were destroyed during a slave uprising. Shanielle noted that working on this project allowed her to use her coding skills and explore primary sources. It was an invaluable exposure to academic research that “kindled my love for history and economic research,” she said. It also inspired her to expand her coding skills and learn Python and Java, tools that will strengthen her professional skill set as she pursues a career in academia.

Sebastian Lawrence, a senior studying mathematics and economics at the University of the West Indies, Mona, worked with Mueller on a project examining the effect of Central Bank communications on inflation expectations. He compiled inflation expectations data for several developing and developed countries, using STATA to structure, analyze, and transform the compiled data and implement a synthetic control group method. “Through this work,” he said, he “garnered crucial experience which will be useful in my pursuit of a career in academia or finance.”

Saied Beckford, a graduate of Rutgers University and currently a first-year master’s student in the Statistics Department at Columbia University, also worked with Mueller.

Ian Kim ’22, a senior concentrating in economics and pursuing a certificate in computing applications, spent 11 weeks as an intern with the blockchain startup VegaX Holdings. VegaX is developing new crypto exchanges such as Taebit, as well as asset management tools and investment strategies. During his internship, Ian contributed to multiple projects. His responsibilities ranged from data collection and analysis to leading team meetings for index development. “While working at the company, I was exposed to many cutting-edge technologies and ideas in the crypto space,” he said. “The work was extremely fast paced and hands-on,” he added, “and has inspired me to continue researching blockchain technology and the emerging market.”


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