Aiming beyond the Box: Bringing out Economists' Transferable Skills

By Friedman, Susan Krug | Business Economics, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Aiming beyond the Box: Bringing out Economists' Transferable Skills


Friedman, Susan Krug, Business Economics


In recent years, I have had the opportunity to teach undergraduate students preparing to enter the professional world on academic internships. For individuals with considerable work background, today's rocky business environment is bringing challenges similar to those faced by new entrants in the labor market. As experienced employees seek avenues that diverge from their previous job titles, they may branch out from positions as economists or as economic or financial analysts. The following discussion focuses on ideas that may be useful in these pursuits and looks at transferable skills--the skills associated with economists in particular--and strategies to leverage these distinctive skills for additional opportunities.

Richard Bolles provides numerous strategies for career moves in his classic book, What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers [2009]. Bolles' "life-changing" approach, based on John Crystal's work, involves reflection and analysis of one's own desires and skills before embarking on the job hunt. For those with economic training, this strategy may sound a bit self indulgent, as well as impractical, because one clearly needs to focus on the realities of the market. However, by starting in this way, individuals may widen the options that they might happily pursue, instead of limiting possibilities to what is clearly available (or, unfortunately, not available) in their previous line of work.

Bolles proposes that his readers write stories about their experiences that illustrate their achievements, whether in a paid or unpaid job, or in any life situation. An economist, for example, might write about putting together a corporate presentation to a new audience--or about a challenge in a completely different setting, such as leading a group of teenagers on an overnight trip or putting together a silent auction for a charity fundraiser. The point is to choose situations that were fulfilling and then to consider the skills that were used. (1) For the business presentation scenario, the skills could include analyzing the audience's interests, targeting information sources, collecting data, designing the visual materials, writing the speech, and engaging with the audience. In an overnight expedition, a leader would have needed to choose the destination, recruit assistance, find accommodations, plan the activities, determine the budget, coordinate transportation, motivate the participants, and maintain their safety. By developing numerous stories, individuals can learn about skills that they may never have thought about in a job context. The overnight trip illustrates a variety of managerial and interpersonal skills, for example.

Bolles provides a number of exercises throughout the book that help in identifying and evaluating one's talents. His approach is multipronged, such that job seekers are encouraged to analyze their fields of interest, geographical choices, and other preferences. The importance of looking at skills and other personal and situational factors is also presented by John Mullins [2009] in an article that provides a range of information resources.

1. The Skills of an Economist

Job descriptions (including our own) can give one a good idea of the skills currently used in a particular niche. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), offers more perspectives and profiles a range of occupational categories (for example, "Management," "Professional," "Service," "Sales"). "Economists" are listed under the "Professional" job heading. The section describes the activities typically done by economists, including data collection, analysis, and forecasting, and talks about requirements, such as being focused on details and having strong written and oral communication skills:

  They may conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor
  economic trends, or develop forecasts. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Aiming beyond the Box: Bringing out Economists' Transferable Skills
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.