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UVAfr
01-30-2014, 09:18 PM
I'm a sophomore, and I recently applied to a summer internship with the Richmond Federal Reserve's Regional Economics team. They recently contacted me and set up an interview. However, upon further research, it seems like the Regional Economics team, which reports on regional economic trends, is largely composed of economists with masters, NOT PhDs (not trying to rag on those with masters, but I'm just more interested in research).

I understand that I haven't even been accepted to the position yet (as I'm sure a lot of other qualified candidates applied), but this worries me a bit. Do you guys think that it might just be more advantageous for me to try and get an RA position with a professor at my school, so that I can get a better taste of what research is actually like? I know that the Regional Economics Department is closely affiliated with the Research Department, but I don't think I'll get much exposure to the latter.

At the end of the day, if (knock on wood), I get it, there are definitely some nice perks: it pays pretty well, and I'd be able to stay at home for the summer. But, I'm not sure if this is the best choice for me if I want to explore research more.

Thanks for your input.

Food4Thought
01-30-2014, 10:42 PM
I was an RA for a M.A. in econ at a think tank last summer, and I participated in legitimate research. If getting a taste of the what research is like (literature review, data collection and entry, analysis) is your goal, then the Fed internship should do the trick. If you are also looking for a letter of rec, then I would try to RA for your professor.

Javy001
02-01-2014, 03:42 AM
I did an internship last summer at a regional fed and I was not in the economic research department. I was disappointed to not work in research and I considered turning them down, but I accepted and had a great summer. I was able to network with some economists and kept in touch since then. I am now applying for a RA position and feel that my chances of landing the position are much higher because of the relationships I developed. Since you will be in the research department you will have a even better chance to network than I did. I would jump all over the chance if I were you. You can always RA for a professor during the next semester.

greatexpect
02-01-2014, 05:31 AM
see my PM

Khansian
02-02-2014, 08:05 AM
If you can identify a professor doing interesting research from whom a LOR would be valuable, then I think that takes precedence. The sooner you can lock in an excellent letter the better.

Regardless, you have lots of time to both intern at outside institutions and RA for professors at your university. So you can't really go wrong here.

Khansian
02-02-2014, 09:02 PM
OP, I don't think you can really go wrong with your choice since you have plenty of time to do both RA and internships. In terms of exposure to research the Fed internship is likely the safer bet; the quality of an RA position is far more variable.

If I were you I'd try for the best of both worlds by taking the internship this summer and working as an RA during the school year. If that's not possible then it really depends on the likelihood you will pursue a PhD in the future. If you are fairly certain you will, it would be wise to secure a letter of recommendation sooner rather than later.