What can I do with a BA in Econ?
September 4, 2007 3:33 AM   Subscribe

What can I do with a BA in Economics?

I recently graduated from college last May. Currently I'm working as a data entry temp, which I don't think really makes good use of my economic education. Recently I discovered that the average salary for Econ grads is at least 30k or so...which kind of annoyed me, because I've been having a tough time looking for a job. Here are my details:

1. Graduated with Honors, although my Senior Thesis was on the vaguely economic topic of the history of Japanese cuisine.
2. Weak Math background, only a semester of Calc and the required Statistics course.
3. Semi-fluent in Japanese, though not at business level.
4. About a year's worth of clerical experience. No internships.

I look somewhat good on paper but there are admittedly gaping holes in the record, like the lack of internships. Are there any good sites to find economics-related jobs? I've been trying to find research or analyst-related jobs, but they all require two years or more of analytical experience (!?). I've also wanted to get into international economics/business, since that's my expertise. Any leads?
posted by etoyasu to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you are interested in say, banking, you want to apply for training programs, not for the jobs you see advertised in the paper.

See for instance: http://www2.goldmansachs.com/careers/apply_online/

Depending on where you went to school, the best approach may be through your career center.

Don't discount the possibility of doing an internship. When I left graduate school I did one and then had very little difficulty getting a job afterwards.
posted by Jahaza at 4:58 AM on September 4, 2007

I know the Fed has a similar internship/training program. You may want to check that out.
posted by kjars at 6:05 AM on September 4, 2007

I'd suggest that you stop thinking of yourself as having an econ BA and start thinking of yourself as having a liberal arts BA, especially if you don't like math and math-like analysis. That means general business work. A starting salary in the high 20s or low 30s is, upon googling, a normal liberal arts starting salary.

The odds of finding employment where you are called upon to exercise your undergraduate econ skills of drawing indifference curves and budget lines are minimal. Probably they're highest in government, but still low. Think of yourself as a generic information-processing agent, not an econ grad.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:48 AM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

If it's anything like having a BA in each of English and Japanese, the correct answer is "deliver pizza for Domino's."


If you think your Japanese is up to it (as opposed to simply having taken it on a whim during college) then I recommend looking into taking the JLPT this december (jflalc.org). One caveat: ranks 1 and 2 are the hardest (with 4 being easiest), but nobody cares either way if you're certified level 3 or 4. Google some JLPT practice exams and if you aren't up to snuff for level 2, then disregard this thought and don't even bother.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:25 AM on September 4, 2007

Welcome to the mediocre BA in econ club. You are very sightly better off than political science people, but not much. You aren't going to be able to do much in economics because you don't have enough math.

Look for things in political economy, like international development, but remember you are competing with the zillions of international studies, polisci, and communications majors that colleges churn out yearly. You can always go into business, but don't expect to be an analyst. I've been offered jobs in sales at Google. Banking and government jobs (I considered USDA and FDA) are also a possibility.

If you really want something related to econ though, you will have to get an econ MA and take lots of math.
posted by melissam at 7:39 AM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

You may want to take some community college math courses. There are two types of Econ BA people - the ones who did enough math to get them into an MBA program and the ones, like you, that have a generic liberal arts BA.

Why'd you do an Econ major in the first place? As melissam said, you're only slightly better off than people with a poli sci degree. Did you want to go into business? Take more math. Did you want to go into grad school? Take more math.
posted by k8t at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2007

You might have enough math to do an MBA, but most programs want work experience of at least two years. Me? I'm going the JD route.
posted by melissam at 9:14 AM on September 4, 2007

Thanks for your responses. I already had law/grad school in mind, but was curious what I could do with just a BA, since right now I don't feel like going to school yet. To me, a salary in the low 30s is generous, so if I can get work like that I'd be satisfied for the time being.

By semi-fluent I mean around JLPT 2 level, which I'll be taking in December. Related to that is the reason why I decided to do Econ: because the department offered a great student exchange program with a university in Japan, where I spent the good part of the year. Not to mention the fact that Economics seemed to be the "safest" major I could think of. However, instead of Math I ended up filling the remaining slots with history and other such classes. I really am on the liberal arts side of things...
posted by etoyasu at 8:33 PM on September 4, 2007

My company -- a health economics consulting firm -- hires people with BAs in Econ right out of college, as research assistants. You'd be considered a generalist (as opposed to data analyst) at my company, and would probably do some lit searching, some analysis (Excel/SAS), and some general project assistance stuff like taking meeting notes. Most of our research assistants work here for a couple of years, then go to grad school.

You might want to look at similar companies for research assistant positions, if research interests you.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:37 PM on September 4, 2007

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