Research Assistants

Fall applications due: Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

The Lowe Institute of Political Economy is seeking research assistants (RAs) with an interest in applied economic analysis. RAs will be assigned to one of five roles based on student interest and the needs of the Institute.

All RA roles at the Institute:

  • Duration: one year. Except those selected for leadership positions on the forecast team, Lowe Student Analysts must reapply each year. Unless a new role arises unforeseen mid-year, applications will be accepted only in the fall.
  • Positions are open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors from the 5Cs.
  • Hours: 5-10 hours per week during the academic year; up to 40 hours per week during summer.
  • The Lowe Institute is an equal opportunity employer with no preference as to gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or political views. Applications will be judged solely on the expected ability of the applicant to perform the job as defined below.
  • For AY1819, Lowe Student Analysts will be paid as follows:
    o Incoming: $12.00/hour
    o Returning:$13.00/hour
    o FG leaders: $14.00/hour
  • Skill with software and programming languages useful for data organization and analysis (e.g. Excel, Stata, R, Python) is highly valued but not strictly required. Completion of Econ 50 is expected. Completion of Econ 120 is extremely useful.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic are critical. Each role involves pursuing open-ended tasks for which the successful path is not obvious. Lowe RAs must have the initiative and optimism to run down the best available leads without guarantee of success and must have the determination to continue to do so until the goal is met.
  • Lowe RAs must also understand when to ask for help and when to keep at it. That means being capable of working on open-ended tasks and finding answers for yourself, yet asking for help rather than continuing to waste time hitting your head against a wall should the task prove unexpectedly difficult.
  • Lowe RAs must be responsible about meeting deadlines and communicating effectively with fellow team members and supervising faculty and staff.

Specific Roles at the Lowe Institute:

Economic Journalists [EJ] will work in a small team with the Director and Program Coordinator to develop content for the Lowe Institute’s social media accounts. Content will be defined by a characteristic Lowe brand of data-driven economic analysis. EJs will need to be entrepreneurial in helping to generate ideas, pursue and analyze data, and write content. A weekly Monday lunch meeting is mandatory. There will be deadlines. EJs will also be expected to work at the Inland Empire Vision conference the morning of March 12, 2019.

  • This role is a good fit for those interested in the public intellectualism, journalism, and the intersection of academia and the public. This is a new role and a new program and EJs will be expected to provide energy and ideas in helping launch the program. This is likely to be an exciting but challenging mixture of entrepreneurialism while taking editorial direction and an interesting mix of data analysis and writing. It is excellent preparation for jobs in public policy, communication, marketing, and outreach.
  • We expect to hire 3-5 Economic Journalists

Forecasting Team Members [FT] will work in a team with the Associate Director (AD) to generate macro-economic forecasts for the Inland Empire. This involves accessing, organizing, and analyzing macroeconomic data; writing reports about several cities in the Inland Empire; preparing slides and graphics; and doing other work to prepare the forecast book. The forecast will be produced quarterly, with two extensive forecast books produced in early October and early March. The approach to a deadline is often a time of long hours and stress in this group. FGs will also be expected to work at the Inland Empire Vision conference the morning of March 12, 2019, class schedule permitting.

In the “off-season”, FGs will work with the Associate Director to produce white papers on topics chosen by the AD.
These topics will likely have been suggested by discoveries and puzzles unearthed in prior forecasting work. They will be posted on the website and promoted via social media and other channels.

  • This role is a good fit for students who wish to work in a team, who wish to see intermediate macro and forecasting in action, and who want to understand the economics of cities within a region and think about associated policy issues. It is excellent preparation for jobs in either public policy or white collar data analysis such as consulting.
  • We expect to hire 8-10 Forecast Team Members including the 3 current student leaders.

Research Assistants [RA] will work one-on-one with a professor on one of the professor’s research papers. The professor will outline tasks for the RA, which will likely include finding, generating, cleaning, and manipulating data and may also include data analysis and generation of figures, tables, and graphs. RAs will learn about the specific research project and the general process of research through regular discussions with the professor. The project will produce a research paper by the end of the year.

  • This role is a good fit for students interested in academia or white collar data analysis. It affords the opportunity to build a close relationship with a Professor while developing the skills of data acquisition, organization, and analysis that are the foundation of entry-level data analyst positions. It also affords a close look at academic research and a potentially valuable letter of recommendation should duties be performed with initiative and distinction.
  • We expect to hire 5-7 research assistants.

Research Group Members [RG] will work in small groups with a professor on early stage research. Activities will be varied but may include reading papers, refining the research question, finding data, analyzing data, writing up findings, preparing graphics and other materials for presentation. There will be mandatory meetings on at least a biweekly basis with the professor. Groups are expected to produce a poster to be presented to the Director and at the spring Inland Empire Vision conference on March 12, 2019. One group will be selected to present their findings to the Lowe Board of Governors at the spring meeting in late April 2019.

  • This role is a good fit for students who wish to learn about the research process while working in a team. By comparison with the RA position, the RG position affords a wider scope of research activities and a team setting while being less likely to be as close to the academic forefront as the RG projects are more early-stage exploratory ventures. It remains excellent preparation for grad school or white collar data analysis and the opportunity to develop a valuable letter of recommendation should duties be performed with initiative and distinction.
  • We expect to hire 8-10 research group members.

Consumer Sentiment Analyst [CS] will work with the Institute Director to receive, organize, update, and analyze the quarterly consumer sentiment data. These data will be prepared for video snippets to be posted on the Institute website and press releases to the Los Angeles County Business Journal. The CS will also work to develop new questions, keep track of other sentiment indices, and generally become an expert in consumer sentiment.

  • This role is a good fit for students who are interested in forecasting and public policy, do not mind working one-on- one, and are willing to focus on a single concept for the whole year. The role provides a smattering of many aspects of modern data analysis: survey design, data acquisition, data organization, periodic analysis, connection to trends, and publication. It is excellent preparation for white collar data analysis and affords the opportunity to develop a valuable letter of recommendation should duties be performed with initiative and distinction.
  • We expect to hire 1-2 consumer sentiment analysts.

Applicants should complete and submit through the portal below one PDF file with the following items: 1) the application below; 2) cover letter explaining why you wish to be a Lowe RA, what you hope to get out of it, and what you bring, with an eye to helping us find the proper group for you; 3) resume; 4) a one-page, analytical, writing sample; 5) unofficial transcript.

Applicants who pass a first round will be invited for a short interview on Friday, September 14th.

Application:  Lowe_Institute_RA_App_General (pdf)