“If you want to change the world… hurry up and get into economics! It’s so much more than that “stock markets” stereotype! It’s about health economics, it’s aboriginal economics, and it’s complementary to so many other disciplines! It adds a strong statistical component to your studies that helps you go beyond your own opinion so your perspective has more weight and power. You may or may not yet have the quantitative skills, but you can acquire them. The mathematics you employ in Economics is not like the math you took in high school. Here, you apply it to real world scenarios that matter. For example: how will people respond to a tax on carbon emissions?”

Leslie Shiell, professor

“In this course, students take a look at certain aboriginal issues, through the economic lens. We talk about history, development and questions of equality. We look at welfare, at the cost of goods, at taxation. Ultimately, we try to analyze how economics may help solve some of the poverty and inequality issues currently faced by Aboriginal peoples.”

Aggey Semenov, professor

Video is available in French only. Closed captioning has been provided in French and English.

Directed Research Project - Interview with Youssef Fortin

A directed research project in economics is a great opportunity for fourth-year economics students to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting during one session. This course, which is offered in both fall and winter sessions, is an excellent option for those who are looking for something outside of academia and beyond their comfort zone.

Meet Youssef Fortin, an economics student who decided to take on this challenge.

Youssef Fortin, economics student

What is the directed research project in economics?

The directed research project is just like real work experience! Each student is paired with an external organization, often a government department or agency, for which they will conduct research in their field of study. The organization assigns one or more supervisors to provide the student with work and to answer questions. However, students need to remember that supervisors are not teachers and that they have other duties! The project is very time-consuming and requires that students be very self-sufficient, but it is very rewarding.

How did you hear about the course?

The department sent an email to all fourth-year students asking them to apply for the course if they were interested. The admission criteria did not allow all of us to be selected: the number of spots depends on the number of research projects proposed by external organizations. For my part, I had already heard about this course through some friends, who had taken it and told me that it was a great experience that was worth pursuing. I was also looking for a personal challenge: I prefer to take as many advanced courses as I can!

How did the application process go and how was your initial contact with the employer?

To tell you the truth, I was a little late in answering the email! In my application, I stated my strengths and interests in economics. Then, the Economics department contacted me and asked if I would like to conduct a research project for the Department of Finance, and I immediately jumped at the chance! I was interviewed by one of my project supervisors, but that was more of a formality. At the end of the interview, they gave me my initial instructions to begin my research project, and off I went!

What happened next?

My supervisors had not given me any real deadlines, so I had to learn to create my own work schedule and guidelines. Much of my research involved using formulas that I had never learned! I went to see the University’s economics professors, and they helped me a lot. I also referred to a number of academic sources in the library. Personally, I felt it important that I not go running to my supervisors every time I had a problem. And I was right: in my final evaluation, my supervisors commented that they appreciated my self-reliance.

What did you learn from this experience?

I learned that I work really well under pressure! I also learned that you need to be very meticulous when conducting research and that you must explain your decisions in detail. I learned that good research requires a lot of time and work. This project allowed me to strengthen and deepen my knowledge of economics, but it also showed me that I still have a lot to learn.

What would you say to other students who may be reluctant to sign up for this course?

I would tell them to go for it! Even if they don’t have experience in the field, they shouldn’t worry; the whole point of the course is to gain experience! Also, for anyone considering a master’s degree, this project will give them some idea of what it would be like and may help them decide whether or not to pursue graduate studies. But most of all, the project allows students to explore the world outside the university setting and gives them a different perspective on what is happening in the real world. It’s one of the best courses offered by the Faculty and I highly recommend that students sign up for it!

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