Data Analysis and Applied Economics Research

Rebecca Fingkreuw
Emphasis Area
Business Administration

Rebecca Fingkreuw learned technical skills in coding while enhancing her ability to problem-solve in a collaborative setting as a research intern.

How did you get your internship and why did you choose this opportunity? 

I created my profile in Handshake (the university database for internships and jobs) during my first semester at the University of Arizona, though at the time it was only partially complete. Then when I took the course PAH 383 Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness, I was guided on how to enhance my online presence and learned effective strategies for pursuing career opportunities. One of the course assignments was to refine and narrow down the specific opportunities I sought and to set up personalized job alerts in Handshake. Interestingly, I had not initially planned to pursue an internship for the fall semester. Nevertheless, in the first week of Fall 2023, I received a job alert in my email, leading me to discover and secure the research-focused internship opportunity. 

Upon delving into the organization website about their work in development economics, it turned out to align with exactly why I chose economics as my second major. Despite having no experience in academic research, I firmly believe that internships not only provide invaluable real-world experience but also serve as a platform for self-exploration, helping us discern whether it aligns with our future aspirations and to better understand our own professional inclinations. It was also a logistical benefit to have the internship be located on-campus.

What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience? 

Collaborating within a small team, we selected a specific research paper as our focal point on a comprehensive replication project. Over the course of this 14-week program, we delved into the intricacies of the chosen paper, including its research questions, problem statement, data and statistical analysis, and conclusions. In our commitment to ensuring the accuracy of the authors' work, we meticulously checked their data and code. Then, we completed the replication process by proposing a new and rigorous robustness check. The culmination of our efforts resulted in the publication of our robustness check, showcasing the culmination of our collective work and dedication throughout the internship. 

What did you find challenging about your internship? 

In the process of verifying data, we encountered a significant challenge – over 1000 lines of Stata code, compounded by many technical issues during code execution. This hurdle consumed nearly 2-3 weeks of our time, and at one point, the complexity of the problems left us with a sense of uncertainty about the way forward. I problem-solved by collaborating with mentors, supervisors, and even seeking assistance from a friend with relevant skills from another country. Admittedly, we found ourselves at a juncture where the path ahead seemed unclear. Despite the initial uncertainty, we persevered, and by methodically addressing the core issues, we successfully resolved the problems and verified the data and code. This experience underscored a crucial lesson for me: asking for help is a skill in itself. As someone inclined towards perfectionism, this journey has reshaped my perspective, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging one's limitations. In a team setting, it illuminated the significance of mutual support, as we had each other's backs throughout the process. 

What skills did you learn and develop in this internship? 

When considering transferable skills, this internship has equipped me with both technical and professional skills. Despite having no prior experience in Stata or other coding languages, the internship provided an opportunity for me to learn and become familiar with the program’s features. In the realm of research, it offered me a glimpse beyond the research papers that I typically read and reference in my college assignments, contributing significantly to my preparation for graduate school. The predominantly teamwork-oriented nature of this internship enhanced my collaboration skills, especially when faced with individual and team challenges. I honed my critical thinking skills during our brainstorming, analysis, execution, and revision phases. Additionally, the experience sharpened my time management skills—a particularly challenging aspect given my full-time course load, involvement in organizations, and part-time job. Balancing these commitments has provided me with a practical lesson in effective time management and prioritization.

How did your Applied Humanities major coursework help prepare you for the internship experience? 

The majority of PAH courses, which are predominantly project-based, have been instrumental in refining my project management and collaboration skills. Consequently, when engaged in this team-based internship, I found myself well-prepared to articulate ideas clearly and collaborate seamlessly with my team members. The PAH 383 Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness course was immensely valuable in preparing me for my internship. Firstly, It played a crucial role in facilitating the identification and acquisition of the internship opportunity. Secondly, it equipped me with the skills and mindset needed to navigate and address challenges that may arise during the internship or in a professional work setting. The preparation provided by my Applied Humanities courses has been a key factor in my ability to approach the internship with confidence and a proactive problem-solving approach. 

What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship? 

My advice is to kickstart your internship experience as soon as you can. The earlier you dive into the experience, the faster you'll learn, adapt, and make necessary improvements. Starting early gives you ample time to explore and refine your skills. Another piece of advice is to embrace the fact that there's no such thing as a perfect first internship or job for anyone. Just go for it! There are only two possible outcomes – either you discover something you genuinely enjoy and see yourself pursuing a similar industry or position in the next step, or you realize it's not the right fit for your long-term career goals. There's nothing to lose, so don't hesitate to apply. Use your internship as a tool for networking; it's crucial because you never know how it might shape your future. Building connections during your internship can lead to mentorship, collaborations, or even job opportunities later on. So, my advice is to leverage your internship not just for the work experience but also for the valuable relationships you can build along the way.