I was born/grew up in: New York, USA
I now live in: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
What I do at work
I provide Canadians with information to make informed decisions about their career path. One part of my job is conducting research and writing reports on issues related to the job market in Canada. This ranges from estimating skills shortages to analyzing how something like COVID-19 affects employment. I also try to understand how different populations are treated in the workforce. These can include youths, persons with disabilities, and others. This work relies on mathematics. In particular, I use a lot of statistical analysis and modeling.
As a senior economist, I also manage projects. I provide feedback and support on the research and work of other economists on my team. I work with with different organizations at the federal government. Some examples are Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada. I also work with the provinces and territories. I would say that I spend half to two-thirds of my week in meetings. During this time I am delegating work, providing feedback and support. Some meetings are for planning and brainstorming.
I also present my work at various professional conferences and meetings. The work I do is a mixture of independent research and collaboration. It all depends on the project. I need an understanding of statistics to succeed in my role. It’s also very important that I be able to write well. I need to communicate complex topics in a clear and understandable manner. This could be in writing, such as a report or a blog. At other times, I am communicating through a presentation to hundreds of people.
My career path is
I never knew what economics was until after college. My high school didn't have economics as a course. I thought economics was only about banking or finance. I have found that this is not true at all. When I first went to college, I thought I wanted to study medicine because I loved science. Chemistry and Biology were my two favorite subjects. Math was also a favorite. After volunteering at a hospital and working in health-care, I realized it wasn't for me.
After that, I tried a lot of different programs from English literature to anthropology. I had a lot of interests so it was very hard for me to narrow it down to one career. In fact, I chose economics after completing a degree in education! I happened to meet someone who was an economist. We had very deep, philosophical conversations about people's behavior and decision-making. It was then that I learned what economics was all about. In fact, it is about understanding how people behave and making decisions in the context of limited resources. That's when I decided that this was the career for me.
I am motivated by
I moved toward economics as a discipline because I liked the way it brought a scientific approach to solving social problems. Labour economics in particular is well known for being very data-heavy. I like working with data to identify insights. As an economist, I enjoy a lot of freedom. For example, I don't "punch a timecard." I have projects that I lead with deadlines. I have meetings with internal and external stakeholders. It's up to me to make sure I am getting things done and performing at a high quality. There's no one looking over my shoulder or watching to see if I'm at my desk or working. This level of freedom is very important to me. Finally, I enjoy working with my peers. Some of my work is very complex and no one person has the right answer or knows all things. I enjoy being able to brainstorm with a colleague and problem solving with the people on my team. We get to come up with innovative solutions that help improve Canada's standard of living.
How I affect people’s lives
The content of the research I work on helps to create policies that help all Canadians. For example, calculating the earnings of new workers by field of study can help students plan the career that is right for them. Identifying in-demand skills helps educators ensure they are teaching the skills employers want. We can help representatives design and pass policies that help make sure all Canadians have good job outcomes and are treated fairly.
Outside of work I
My main activity outside of work is reading (I love sci-fi and fantasy novels) and crocheting. I make lots of blankets and other items that I sell or gift to family and friends. I also like to play ultimate frisbee in the summers.
My advice to others
Look for someone in a field you think you might like and reach out to ask questions. There are so many things about a job that you never hear about from looking them up online. When I wanted to study medicine, I focused on the content. I found out that there is so much more to a job than that. For example, you might love teaching, but teaching is only a small part of what teachers actually do. Other things can include parent meetings, chaperoning student events and grading. There is also lesson planning, professional development and making sure classes align with rules about special needs. You might like one aspect of a career but absolutely hate the rest. So, it's very important to reach out to someone who actually works in the field to get a sense of what it’s really like. Ask questions. Second, it’s important to know what things are deal breakers. If the work environment or work context is unbearable for you, it won’t matter if you like the content.