St. Louis Fed Research Associates Discuss Work and Experiences
For a recent college graduate in economics or mathematics, a research associate position at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis provides a valuable opportunity to explore economics as a career and to sharpen one’s knowledge and intellect. As the name suggests, research associates help the St. Louis Fed’s staff of economists investigate topics ranging from monetary policy to unemployment.
“A really cool thing about being a research associate is that you get to do a whole wide variety of things, whether that’s helping to write a blog post that’ll be on the St. Louis Fed website or getting to gather and clean data or help with economic analysis or estimation in a larger academic research paper,” explained Julie Bennett, a St. Louis Fed research associate and a graduate of Davidson College. Bennett and two other research associates, Maggie Isaacson and Praew Grittayaphong, spoke about their work in a 2021 Women in Economics Podcast Series episode.
The research associates work with researchers who have doctorates in economics, and this experience can help them prepare for graduate school.
“I ended up becoming a research associate because I want to be able to go on and eventually get a Ph.D. maybe ... a research associateship is a great way to do that,” said Maggie Isaacson, who graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
While research associates come from diverse backgrounds, they all share a common passion: economics.
For Praew Grittayaphong, a graduate of Vassar College, her interest in economics was personal. She was born during the Asian financial crisis; Thailand, where she grew up, was hit hard.
“Growing up I always heard people around me talk about the crisis using terminologies that I never truly understood before and that really made me curious to learn more about them,” she said. “Because of that, in my junior year of high school, when I had to pick a social science course or study for two years, I decided to give it a chance and pick economics.”
In this episode, the three women talked about their work in the St. Louis Fed’s Research division, their interest in economics, the value of mentors and their own experience as women studying in a field that has traditionally been dominated by men.