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The Vast Career Options That A Specialization In Economics Opens Up For Students

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. -John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory

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The ability of economists to unlock crucial insights into human activity has had a massive impact at various levels of human society, right from how individuals transact with each other to the monetary policies countries adopt. Being able to study, understand, and predict human behaviour like Economics does have a wide variety of applications and this is one of the reasons why this subject has been a crucial part of human development and has attracted some of the brightest intellects the world has ever seen. It is also the reason that graduates in Economics and post-graduates with a background in Economics command some of the highest wages in the global job market.

The beauty of economics is that since it studies human behaviour and the material factors that affect it, it can be applied to just about anything. Whether it is finding the right way to educate a mass population, or evaluating how successful a company has been, economics is the best way to gain clarity on what is happening in the world around us and why. This makes the study of economics have the widest possible application, and the skills that economics teaches opens up opportunities in various roles across academia, governance, and industry.

The Economics skillset

To effectively study the field of Economics, students need to imbibe a very particular set of skills. Economists are expected to be able to break down all manner of phenomena, from the exceedingly complex to the most commonplace. To give reasons why a country’s economy is growing and also why individuals make particular consumption choices requires the ability to think quantitatively, think critically, and answer the why, what, and how it happened. 

Economics is a data-driven discipline, and its students learn how to measure the universe, deriving numbers and percentages and using them as a means to more deeply encapsulate a situation. This helps them think logically and in a linear fashion, and makes them adept at deriving data, analyzing it, and make it useful. In today’s age when the reputed periodical like The Economist is calling data the ‘new oil’ in terms of being a valuable resource, this skill is extremely useful in availing lucrative employment opportunities.

The subject also requires its students to develop a critical outlook and a problem-solving approach. Economics is a discursive discipline that relies on its exponents to distinguish between what is relevant and isn’t to their work at any given point in time. With so many different variables to consider, only a critical and questioning outlook can help economists arrive at the right conclusion. Similarly, Economics is a problem-driven discipline; the ability to identify, formulate, and determine data-driven solutions is something instilled in every good economist.

Finally, the subject requires students to be able to present these conclusions as part of a flowing narrative, using their words to explain the insight in a manner to make the underlying questions and solutions clear. Students of Economics are, therefore, trained in their writing skills as a fundamental requirement for their education.

It is, therefore, the nature of Economics as a discipline that ensures that students cultivate these skills. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs study projected that critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills were the top 2 skills projected to be desired by employers by 2020. With data-handling already being a critical skill, graduates in economics are therefore the complete package for employers because of these skill sets. This is why graduates in Economics have a very wide range of options open to them.

The opportunities that studying Economics provides

The skills and knowledge that studying Economics delivers to a student are in demand not just commercially and in industry, but also in academia and governance. Today, graduates of Economics can pursue jobs in journalism, finance, marketing, strategy, HR, or even deploy their learning to become an entrepreneur. They can choose to study more and pursue higher degrees in Economics, which opens the door to becoming a professional Economist. These professionals can choose to get involved in government, and India’s erstwhile RBI governor Raghuram Rajan is a fine example of a professional straddling the domains of academia and government. Graduates can even pursue professional degrees like an MBA or study to become a CA/CFA, taking their first steps into highly specialized and exceedingly lucrative job opportunities. No other field of study or course opens so many doors without closing others, and you don’t need an economist to tell you that studying Economics is the best start you can get to your professional life today.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Indradeep Ghosh

Prof Indradeep Ghosh is Associate Professor and Faculty Dean at MDAE ( Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics) & has a PhD in Economics from MIT and has taught for 8 years at Haverford College, a 4-year liberal arts college located in Philadelphia, PA. Indradeep’s expertise is in macroeconomics and international economics and he has published papers in these subjects in peer-reviewed journals such as Global Economy Journal and Review of Development Studies. At Haverford, Indradeep has taught courses in macroeconomics, money and banking, international macroeconomics, computational economics, and financial crises.

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