The Right Blends

July 14th, 2014.

Nervous. Skittish. Anxious. Yes those words would come close to how I was feeling when I entered Rome building for MIEF orientation. Was I tense simply because I was starting a new program? Maybe not. The fact that it was only my second day in DC probably had something to do with it. Or perhaps because it was my second day in the United States altogether! But orientation day went well. And the entire year – that went really well.

For me, MIEF was a story of the right blends. The program had the right blend of courses in trade, macro, finance, international econ and econometrics. A capstone course – which was nothing short of a full-fledged thesis – connected all the econ training. It had the perfect blend of professors; those leaning towards highly theoretical (and necessary) concepts and those connecting real-world policy issues through intuitive economic models. It had the right blend of students; those bringing experiences from economic research, central banking, investment management and non-profits to recent graduates with fabulous intuitive and quantitative abilities. It should hardly come as a surprise that classes like international finance, macro, financial decision-making and advanced topics in trade were enjoyable not just because of the curriculum – but also because of the interactive discussion among teacher and students. The fact that MIEF gave tons of flexibility in course choices, after the foundations, was also a big plus for me.

On top of that, regular seminars served as perfect platforms to extend our knowledge and understand what top researchers were working on. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more – Olivier Blanchard’s presentation on global economic outlook or our very own Professor Marquez’s talk on “Economic Activity and Derivatives.” And finally, to knit all of these different aspects together – courses, students, professors and seminars – MIEF has Kelley.

One could argue MIEF has no internships chalked out in an eleven-month curriculum. Several of us still managed to squeeze internships in though. But I chose not to, simply because I wanted to get as much out of my one year as I could. Was not doing an internship too big a gamble? With Professors who always kept their doors open to students, I believed understanding how to land a suitable job was not going to be impossible. And it wasn’t.

I joined the IMF only one week after presenting my capstone and was thrown head-first into more economic and quantitative analysis then I thought I could handle. My division, “Advanced Economies and Multilateral Surveillance Issues,” conducts a series of cross-country analysis on economic vulnerabilities. As an analyst, I work with economists to study relevant macro and financial variables using both simple (as simple as simple averages) and advanced quantitative methods. Keeping up with numerous economists is not easy. Especially when they expect you to understand macroeconomic relationships in a complex real-world setting. But MIEF training definitely prepared me well for that. More importantly, the intensity of the program helped getting used to meeting multiple tight deadlines.

Looking back, when I first picked MIEF for grad school I was not fully confident of my own choice. At that time, my options included two other very well-known programs in this field. My supervisor in my previous company (in Bangladesh) told me it might be better to go for an established program rather than a relatively new one. But today, I can confidently say that I made the right call.     

Sharjil Haque, MIEF '15