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Explore a graduate career in economics
Put your academic and theoretical knowledge into practice as a graduate economist, find out what's involved and if it's the right fit for you.
What is economics?
Being an economist is one of those jobs where you constantly seek to make sense of the world around you. You might be asked to analyse domestic and international markets to understand what is currently happening and what is likely to happen in the future or under different circumstances. Or you might be asked to help shape a new policy or regulation in areas such as transport, health and social services and quantify how this affects the economy.
Either way, as an economist you will be constantly studying and problem-solving to understand how resources, money, knowledge, time, capital or labour are or should be allocated. The skills of an economist are highly valued and career opportunities are available across the public and private sector.
There are many government institutions that offer graduate economic roles, for example, Treasury, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Productivity Commission and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Outside of Australia, you should consider organisations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Alternatively, you can work for the private sector, either for a large accounting firm or bank or a specialist economics consultancy.
It is worth noting that the completion of honours or postgraduate studies is highly valued in recruiting for economist roles. In fact, most international organisations and specialist economic consultancies prefer recruiting candidates with a few years experience as an economist.
What is the graduate experience like in economics?
As a graduate economist, you will have the opportunity to apply your academic and theoretical knowledge to real-world problems.
From day one, you will typically work in a team with the opportunity to learn from experienced economists. The calibre of people in places such as Treasury is high and many of your colleagues may hold doctorates in economics – so, as you can imagine, the scope for learning is immense!
As a graduate, you will typically be given an area of responsibility – this may be part of a larger project or a discrete piece of analysis.
For example, you may be asked to analyse key Australian or overseas trends, prepare briefing notes on statistical releases, draft a submission for a client regarding competition issues, develop a quantitative economic model or form market definition for a specific industry.
Whatever it is, you will be expected to report on your results and conclusions. This may be in the form of a written or verbal presentation to your colleagues, clients (including the government) or even to the public. Being able to take highly technical and complex issues and tailor this to your audience is a great skill. Over time you will develop a range of skills including economic forecasting, modelling, research and policy analysis. Tools and software such as Excel will become your friend!
What are your career prospects in economics?
A career in economics means potentially being at the forefront of public policy and economic analysis. This is an exciting place with the potential for great impact.
Some economists become thought leaders as they become more senior. For example, chief economists or partners at the Big Four banks or accounting firms are often interviewed for economic commentary. These organisations also regularly release economic updates and industry publications containing analysis and forecasts. At these more senior levels and as you develop a reputation as an economist, it is easier to switch between the public and private sector. However, you will find it is less fluid in the earlier stages of your career.
Choose this if you have:
- A passion to apply the latest ideas in economics to real-world scenarios.
- A desire to contribute to public policy and discussion.
- An ability to effectively communicate the results of highly-technical and quantitative economic analysis.
Ready to take the next step? Browse graduate programs and internships at GradAustralia.