Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Why study economics? Uber data scientist edition...

There is a common misconception that the eventual job title that economics students are studying towards is 'economist', in the same way that engineering students become engineers, or accounting students become accountants. But actually, the vast majority of economics graduates don't get jobs with the title of economist. In my experience, the most common job title is some flavour of 'analyst' (market analyst, business analyst, financial analyst, risk analyst, etc.). However, a growing job title for economics graduates is 'data scientist', as for example in this new advertisement for jobs at Uber. The job description is interesting, and demonstrates a wide range of skills and attributes that economics graduates typically obtain:
Depending on your background and interests, you could focus your work in one of two areas:
  • Economics: Conduct research to understand our business and driver-partners in the context of the economies in which Uber operates. For example: We know that the flexible work model is very valuable to Uber drivers (see Chen et al. Opens a New Window. , Angrist et al. Opens a New Window. ) and that dynamic pricing is vital in protecting the health and efficiency of the dispatch market (see Castillo et al., “Surge Pricing Solves the Wild Goose Chase”); however, it’s likely that consistency (e.g., of pricing or earnings) also carries some value for riders and drivers.  What values should we put on these opposing virtues?
  • Cities and Urban Mobility: Study Uber's impact on riders and cities around the world with a special focus on different facets of urban mobility.  For example: What is the relationship between on-demand transportation and existing public transport systems. Do they complement or compete with each other? Or, does this relationship change depending on external factors? What could these external factors be and how do they change rider behavior?
Somewhat surprisingly, these jobs only require a "bachelor’s degree in Economics, Statistics, Math, Engineering, Computer Science, Transportation Planning, or another quantitative field", rather than a PhD (which has more often been the case for tech jobs for economists). However, the one or more years of quantitative or data science experience that is required suggests that picking up a job as a research assistant while studying, and doing some quality research at honours or Masters level is a pre-requisite.

In any case, this demonstrates that some of the coolest jobs for economics graduates are not as 'economists'.

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