What is your current position/job? What did you study at Yale? When did you graduate?
I am currently a Research Analyst in the African Department of the International Monetary Fund. My portfolio includes five East African countries, liaising between country authorities and IMF staff. I graduated in 2017 with a Masters in International Development and Economics (IDE) from Yale’s Economics Department.
What do you like most about your current role? What do you find most challenging and/or rewarding?
I work at the intersection of economic development and macroeconomic policy, which has been my academic area of interest since I started my training in Economics. I engage with policymakers, industry representatives as well as local technical staff in the countries that are in my portfolio. I enjoy the technical work that I am able to undertake on a variety of topics that are relevant to economic growth and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. This experience is enriched by the country-specific knowledge and data that the IMF has access to, and the direct applicability of the analysis to policy advice. It is also rewarding to participate in discussions with technical country staff with a spirit of problem-solving, as their teams and ours are motivated by the same objective of maximizing growth potential and economic progress.
How did your time at Yale help shape your career trajectory?
Coming into Yale, I had a broad sense of my interests but did not have a well-defined career path. The range of electives offered across GSAS and the approachability of my professors were instrumental in helping me understand what career options were available. Furthermore, the technical skills received in the IDE program have enabled me to participate in additional projects at work, thus expanding my professional network and the opportunities available to me. While at the IMF, I decided to apply to PhD programs in Economics, and the success of my applications was also in large part because of the advice of my professors and the skills I built while completing my Masters’ program.
What are the main skills that you acquired as a graduate student which help make you successful in your current career?
First and foremost, there is a direct applicability of the technical skills that the IDE program cultivates to my current job. In addition to that, the IDE program provided us the space to think of Economics in an international and multicultural context. Being able to approach a technical idea from diverse perspectives, participating in a multicultural environment, and the practice of forming a technical hypothesis from a discussion of ideas are vital skills, not only for my current job but also, assumably, for future roles in the international policy environment.
Did you acquire any professional experience related to your line of work while in graduate school (either through part time work, volunteering, networking, or other forms of training)?
While at Yale, I was a Research Assistant to a professor in the Economics department. This was my first exposure to academic research and I am thankful for this opportunity. My PI encouraged me to bring my own ideas to the project as well as introduced me to the processes of research, which have helped me tremendously in my current job. I also edited for the Yale Journal of International Affairs, thus pursuing my interest in international policy and global events.
What is the biggest challenge that you face in transitioning to different working places/cultures? What do you suggest current students do to prepare for those challenges?
In my opinion, every workplace has a culture of work/life balance, team environments, professional hierarchy, and expectations on professional deliverables. For me, it has been important to devote time to understanding these and adapting my work style in accordance. Another important aspect of working with teams is being respectful of one’s colleagues while asserting oneself, which can be challenging, especially while working in top organizations of the industry. It is helpful to embrace any job with humility, confidence, passion and hard work. I would encourage current students at Yale to interact with classmates, neighbors, and professors outside the context of academic discussions to broaden their perspectives and understanding of other cultures. It is also useful to proactively step out of your comfort zone, perhaps by actively engaging in classroom discussions, taking electives outside of your main area of study, and/or participating in social or sport activities.