Advice to Young Economists


How to Survive and Prosper as a Young Academic in Economics

Research is hard. It is hard for everyone, even for the best researchers. There is no rule, magic recipe or template: you have to learn it by trial and error, mostly error. Moreover, there is also a lot of misinformation and false beliefs about our profession and daily job. This course is designed to help PhD students to reflect and discuss about their scientific career in Economics. At the end of this course students should have a clear(er) idea of what they need to turn their PhD in a job.

Learning outcomes:

  • Analyse the process of doing a PhD in Economics and reflect on what the market expects from a PhD student;
  • Map professional competences and develop a concrete plan to meet career goals;
  • Practice your writing and presentation skills;
  • Discuss how to manage pressure and maintain a work/life balance.


The courses is divided in 5 modules (see below). Each module consists of 3 parts: a Lecture (red) introduces the topic; Exercise (yellow) gives students the possibility to work -alone or in small groups- on specific assignments; Discussion (blue) is a space to discuss together about the process to turn a PhD in job.

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Main Reading List:

The American Economic Association (AEA) collects some useful resources on various topics available. Moreover, the Committee on the Status of Women in Economic Profession (CSWEP) offers interesting talks, material and calls & announcements.

Module 1: “Finding a research topic”

  1. Lecture: Slides.
  2. Discussion: Read sections Dark Times in the Academy and Getting your Head in the Game of the book The professor is in and prepare 2-3 questions to discuss in class.
  3. Exercises:
    A) Write a recommendation letter (two pages) about yourself using this template (follow the instructions). Send me your letter by email, deadline Feb. 6.
    B) Prepare an elevator pitch (2 min) answering “Tell Me About Yourself …”. Remember to include your name and affiliation, your education, and career history (be selective, only relevant info). Present your research (why?), results (what?) and next direction/effort/objective.

Useful resources for Module 1:

Module 2: “Scientific writing”

  1. Lecture: Slides.
  2. Exercises: Write (a paragraph of) your introduction using this template.
  3. Discussion: Read sections The Nuts and Bolts of a Competitive Record and Job Documents that Work of the book The professor is in and prepare 2-3 questions to discuss in class.

Useful resources for Module 2:

Module 3: “Presenting results”

  1. Lecture: Slides.
  2. Exercises:
    A. Read this document and write a paragraph describing the results in Table 1.
    B. In class we will make an exercise to visualize a specific dataset and recap the rules seen together.
  3. Discussion: Read sections Techniques of the Academic Interview, Navigating the Job Market Minefield and Negotiating an Offer of the book The professor is in and prepare 2-3 questions to discuss in class.

Useful resources for Module 3:

Module 4: “Publication process”

  1. Lecture: Slides
  2. Exercises: prepare a publication plan for your research. Explain why you want to send your paper to that journals. Think about editor and possible referees.
  3. Discussion: Read sections and Grants and PostdocsSome Advice about Advisors and Leaving the Cult from the book The professor is in and prepare 2-3 questions to discuss in class.

Useful resources for Module 4:

Module 5: “Getting funding”

  1. Lecture: Slides
  2. Exercises:
    A) Use the Foolproof Grant Proposal Template from the book The professor is in (pag. 339, top) and write the first 2 paragraphs of your grant proposal. Stress the large topic and the gap. You can work in groups.
    B) Be prepared for a Job Interview. You are applying for a position as Assistant Professor at my Department. Do your homework!
  3. Final Discussion: Time for questions and answers.