MA in Economics

Elliott Han, 2021

Elliott Han

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you? 

I entered the Economics MA program to change careers. I had been an immigration paralegal, but found over time that I loved to think about economics and wanted a more quantitatively minded career. Last summer, I secured an internship with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and it was on the strength of that internship that I received an offer from an economic consultancy to work in their financial economics practice. This is precisely the kind of outcome I had hoped for in pursuing this master's in the first place. I am incredibly grateful to the program for helping facilitate this.

What accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud of?

I am generally pleased with the my elective coursework in statistics and econometrics, the projects I implemented in those courses, and of course the grades I received. I came to acquire a quantitative toolkit, and that's exactly what I got. I produced a bunch of deliverables involving data analytics, and it was my ability to speak knowledgeably about these projects, the underlying theory of the models employed, and the challenges of the research process that I believe helped my job applications stand out this past winter.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career? Please give an example of this impact if possible. 

Rosolino Candela taught my Microeconomics 1 course. If I could rename the course, I would probably call it Fundamentals of Economic Intuition. It's a great course for students like me who did not major in economics as undergraduates, but who had come to love the subject over time, if in an informal and unstructured way. Economic systems can be difficult to think about because they involve many moving parts that all interact with each other. Simple economic intuitions can be great heuristics for reframing an economic system into something more manageable. This is in a way a hard class to teach because it's about teaching students how to think about economics, not what to think. Therefore the class discussions were crucial to the learning process, and in turn, Professor Candela was crucial for facilitating those class discussions. His combination of enthusiasm for the material, his boundless patience, and his clearly evident joy for teaching made class something to look forward to. I came to Mason with the express purpose of acquiring a quantitative toolkit, but that Micro 1 class, which involved no quantitative component, may end up having the biggest impact on the way I think about economic problems.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

A master's program is primarily a launchpad for your career. Think specifically about what you need from the program to facilitate your future plans. It's probably not enough to just come here, pass classes, and get your degree. If you need interesting writing samples or research projects to talk about in job interviews, then take courses that allow you to produce those kinds of deliverables, and work on those class projects as if doing well on them will allow you to get promoted in your career, because that's essentially the case. If what you need is a network of contacts who can help you get your foot in the right doors, then network. Make friends for nakedly utilitarian reasons. Everyone understands this dynamic so it won't come across as phony; it will come across as professional.

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

I will be working in economic consulting on the financial economics side. I may end up staying long term or leaving for the kinds of exit opportunities available to people who work in that space.