BS in Economics

Olivia Gonzalez, 2014

Olivia Gonzalez

What work are you doing now?

I am a research assistant at the Mercatus Center and a part-time PhD student at Mason. I assist scholars with papers and policy briefs that seek to inform policy change at the state and local level. This work ranges from collecting and analyzing data to reading the latest on a particular issue in academic journals and figuring out how to communicate research findings to policymakers.

What do you like about it?

I love that I get to apply economics to real-world problems. I always found the theoretical discussions in my economics classes intellectually rewarding, but it’s especially exciting for me to apply what I learned in the classroom to issues happening right now. I usually work on issues relating to the management of public finances, structure of tax systems, and economic development. The project that I am most excited about right now is using financial ratios to analyze state governments and rank them according to their fiscal condition. I enjoy projects like this where I get to translate complex information into more digestible formats for policymakers and interested citizens.

How did your degree in the college prepare you to do this work?

Participating in the honors senior thesis program probably prepared me the most for what I am doing now. It gave me hands-on experience conducting literature reviews and the opportunity to replicate a previously published econometric paper using new data. It was extremely helpful to learn the language used in econometric papers in order to interpret findings. The undergraduate econometrics course originally introduced me to the subject, but there really isn’t anything like learning by doing.

What advice would you give current students about developing their careers?

Trust what you know about yourself and what you enjoy doing. From there you can develop goals and a path unique to your passions and skills. Remember that there is always more than one path to pursue any given goal. And even on any specific path, there are margins in which you can tailor your experiences to better propel yourself to be where you want to be.