15 years ago I was just about to sit my Economics A Level, did I go on to do an Economics degree? No, but I did gain some useful skills and knowledge. Did I want a career as an Economist? No, but it was a good foundation for my career. Did I know what an Economist does? No. Do you?
Economics is the study of the factors that influence income, wealth and well-being, an Economist researches and analyses economic trends and data. They use this research to produce forecasts and reports and as the basis for advising clients and providing them with information for use in policy formation or strategy. Sound interesting? I shall continue…
Who employs Economists and how do you start a career in Economics in 2014? Are you interested in food economics? Perhaps agricultural economics or health economics are more your thing? Do you know what careers are open to you? Around half of Economics graduates enter careers in the finance sector, such as accountancy, actuarial work, banking and insurance and many work for central government. Others use their analytical skills in sectors such as business intelligence or research. Economics provides employment opportunities in a variety of careers (in addition to working as an economist) and this can be problematic – so many choices, where do you start your job search?
Perhaps you are drawn to the challenge, excitement and lucrative salary of investment banking? If so, time and effort are essential. Most graduates who gain a position at an investment bank do so through an internship and having the right contacts – be persistent, flexible regarding opportunities and work hard, enthusiasm essential.
Investment banking not for you, perhaps asset management is? Similar to investment banking but with a bit less pay and a bit less competition. What about retail banking? Not as well paid as its glamorous big brother but less working hours. Many multinational companies offer opportunities for economics graduates, whether in the food industry, the car industry or the aviation industry in a role such as finance, strategy or research. What about market research (putting econometric and statistical theories into practice)? Perhaps a career in professional services is for you? The chance to complete a further qualification? Don’t assume your study days will necessarily finish with your degree, economics graduates who want to train as professional economists often progress on to further study as lots of posts require a postgraduate qualification in economics. Also professions like accountancy, popular with Economics graduates may require further study e.g. ACCA or CIMA.
Get to know the industry. Keep up to date with what is happening in the sector, Inomics, The Economics Network and Studying Economics, are all worth a browse. Read the finance and business pages of the broadsheets as well as the Economist.
Think about what skills have you gained on your degree course?Numeracy? Analysis? Crictical thinking? Communication? Problem solving and presentation? Can you demonstrate these to employers? Employers also want motivation, intelligence and proven ability to work. Commercial awareness is essential; your studies help you build knowledge of the sector but you need to be able to apply this to the real world. More employable candidates will be proactive and engage with industry professionals through work experience; events, talks, conferences, exhibitions and open days; they will network, network, network. Use your university holidays to explore economics from different perspectives – give yourself an opportunity to put into practice the qualities recruiters will be looking for, apply economics to real life situations, meet new contacts and perhaps even learn some Excel shortcuts along the way.
So you have work experience and an insight into the world of Economics but who do you want to work for? Industry? Location? Salary? Role? Create a wish list – be flexible but realistic – can you get there every day? Do your research, familiarise yourself with companies you are interested in, sign up to email job alerts, have a browse through websites such as Economist Jobs, The Supply CurveProspects and Graduate-jobs.com. Some companies will advertise vacancies on their websites, so it’s useful to be aware of anyone you would like to work for. Attending graduate recruitment fairs give you the chance to meet representatives, find out more about what they’re looking for and ask questions. Be prepared! Update your CV and start thinking about your application. Use your university careers service – do you know how they can help you? GSM Careers offers careers advice, practice interviews, employability seminars, skills development, information resources CV & application checking etc.
And so to finish, I will repeat myself – experience, experience, experience, enthusiasm, commitment, determination and lots of hard work, knowing what you want to do is a bonus but even then flexibility is essential. Good luck entering the world of economics!