So you've graduated from college with your degree in Economics. And after all of that hard work, logging in hours and hours of studying, test-taking, essay writing, and let's face it, wondering why you ever decided to go to college in the first place, and was it really worth it? You're left with one big question:
Well, that's where we come in. We have literally created a map, just for Economics Majors, such as yourself, to navigate your way through the choppy waters of recent graduation.
Feel free to focus on the map alone--it's pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. But for those of you who prefer step by step navigation on your path, keep reading. We'll give you the rundown on:
First thing's first: what skills you'll need to get started.
Our world runs largely on a complex system of economics. The good news is, as an Econ Major, you're already pretty well abreast of the skills you'll need in the workforce. But just to reiterate, you'll need to be sure you're rock-solid in these areas:
You may have a lot of undergraduate experience in understanding relationships, supply and demand, observing patterns, and extracting meaningful conclusions--theoretically. But get ready to use these analytical skills in real-life economic relationships. It might sound scary, and it might be scary at first, but don't worry--you got this.
You'll need a critical eye and mind to see the linkages between trends, producers, and consumers, and even understand how everyday transactions contribute to the greater economic trends in the world.
Yep, math. Economics is basically spoken in numerals, and so it will be absolutely necessary to have a strong background and understanding of statistics, calculus, and other advanced-level math courses.
Econometrics & Statistics - These will be super helpful in most entry level jobs for economics majors. Being able to understand statistics helps with presenting your analysis of patterns in data, and knowing that what you have is special and not just random chance. Just knowing how to think Bayesian-ly can help you in your career.
A Mastery of the English Language
Okay, we're not saying you need to be Shakespeare here--or English Majors--but just because you'll primarily be looking at numbers, doesn't mean you won't need to communicate in plain English. Being able to articulate yourself, both verbally and in writing, are key to a career in Economics.
Know the Software
This will be important when inputting data and creating visual representations of economic trends. If you're not good with computers in this day and age--well, you better step up your game!
Excel - Learn excel! It's the backbone of basically every entry level analyst type job. Whether you're going to be a buyer, a financial analyst, or even a real estate developer, knowing excel comes in handy. If you really want to impress, be a wizard with pivot tables and/or macros.
SAS - The market standard for big data analytics in a consulting type environment. You can literally spend 60 hours a week doing work on SAS at entry level jobs for consulting firms.
STATA - A close relative of SAS, STATA's a powerhouse for statistical analysis and big data sets. You can probably get a copy from your school before you leave which is nice to have for practice.
Python - A great novice language that will let you impress your boss. With python, you can do everything from automating computer based tasks to real time reporting. Get familiar with the Pandas package and you'll be steps ahead of the competition.
R - The language of statistics nerds and PHDs. This is a free statistical analytics tool that can handle big ole data sets. It's used in many situations from data science to data visualizations.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do right now is putting yourself out there for some internships (though, hopefully you have one or two under your belt from your time in school. If not, don't fret! It's not too late.) Internships are an excellent way to get your foot in the door at a company you might want to continue a career with, or just in the field that you're interested in entering.
Here are some common types of internships for Economics Majors:
Before you settle on an Internship, though, you'll want to make sure it's the right fit for you. Ask yourself these questions:
And now, the step you've probably been waiting for (but we assure you, mastering your skills and getting an internship first are invaluable)--getting a job.
With our map, you can click the Job Titles and learn more specific information about each position (what their responsibilities are, how much they get paid, etc.) But here, we wanted to call out some of the most common jobs for recent economics major grads. Like you.
So here are some pretty common, entry-level jobs for recent grads such as yourself:
These guys might sometimes be overlooked, but they are a huge and integral part of most businesses. They calculate payrolls, keep track of inventory, manage the company's assets, and much more behind the scenes work.
Market Research and Analysis
Positions in research and analysis are not only important in businesses, but also pretty readily available. You'll help companies make better decisions and set priorities after researching and analyzing the data. Numbers: hugely important here. So get out your calculator.
You're in a prime position for a job in sales--because an Economics Major, you really get the relationship between supply, demand, want, and diminishing returns. Sales positions are plentiful, and can range greatly in duties and pay.
Again, these are only a few of the most common fields that recent Economics graduates tend to enter. For a whole lot more detail, in a heck of a lot more digestible form, feel free to peruse the map. Click on the Job Title to see just what these people do--and how much they make per year.
Get Used To Case Questions Case questions are very common in many of the positions you'll be interested in -- consulting, finance, and programming. They are the kinds of questions that test your ability to logic through a ridiculous situation.
A famous question in this type of questioning is "How many ping pong balls would fit in a 747?" If you start with simple assumptions, for example the size of a ping pong ball and the diameter of the cabin, you can slowly work your way to a reasonable solution.
And the nice part is you don't have to be "correct" just use the appropriate thought process.
Find A Way To Demonstrate Experience Even if you don't have any work experience, you need to be able to communicate your ability to get the task done.
We put together some ways of thinking about how to show your experience on your resume, even if it is limited. Just look for an example of a project you had to complete, the steps you needed to complete it, and how you knew if it ended up successful.
Everyone should have had that experience by the time they graduate, even if it is just a senior thesis.
If you don't feel you can get the job you want right of college, consider going back for more education. There are several types of advanced degrees that can help out your career and long term earning potential.
Business School Getting a Masters of Business Administration, more commonly known as a MBA, can be one of the single best returns on investments available to recent college graduates. Getting into a top Business School offers tremendous long term earnings potential and even middling programs offer a good ROI.
Just avoid the "DeVrys" of the world -- they aren't normally worth the investment.
Law School The critical thinking skills you've developed during your time as an economics major translate well into the world of law.
While law school doesn't offer quite the same expected ROI as business school, the top law schools are great for future earnings. However, once you get below the top tier schools, the return on investment gets iffy.
Law is extremely competitive, so you'll need to stand out to make up for the large expense. A surprising number of people have a hard time landing a job after getting a law degree.
Get A Masters In Statistics Unfortunately, unless you loaded up on math during your time as an undergraduate economics major, you're not really ready for economics graduate school.
The way to fix that? Get a Masters in Statistics -- it only takes a year and will prepare you for your life as a pseudo-mathematician if you want to get your economics PHD.
At the very least, a Masters in Statistics will put you a step ahead for any position that requires a lot of math like an actuary or business analyst.
If you're still not sure what to do with your degree here are some external sites, to help you with your decision:
USAJobs Enter "economics" into the search bar and you can get a sense of what kind of government jobs are available to economics majors. Find a job title you like and come back here to learn more about.
Bureau Of Labor Statistics The BLS offers detailed data on pay, location, and availability of different kinds of jobs across the country.
In fact, we draw a lot of our research on the best places for jobs from the information provided on the site.
Poke around until you find something that tickles your fancy. Oh, and congratulations on graduating! The hardest part is over.