What do you do with a B.S. in econ?
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this useless degree
I can’t pay the bills yet
‘Cause I have no skills yet
The world is a big scary place
But somehow I can’t shake
The feeling I might make
To the human race
… the musical then transitions to a song entitled “It Sucks To Be Me” so let’s pause here and answer the initial question
After graduating from MIT, most econ majors (like most other students at MIT, I believe) choose between two paths: work or more school.
“More school” is usually a graduate program in economics (either Masters or PhD), though it can also be in finance, mathematics, political science, etc. Similarly, in the economics PhD program at MIT, there are students who studied computer science, physics, mathematics, political science, and psychology as undergrads. Law school is another destination that recent alums I know have taken. It is becoming increasingly rare to go directly to business school (at least into an MBA program), but I should mention this option just in case. Most grads (I think) of econ PhD programs go on to research/teach as professors or employees of a think tank, like the Brookings Institute.
There are more varieties of “work” things than I can remember or fit into this entry, but I’ll try to list as many as I can. The most popular jobs for the graduating economics seniors I know are in finance — specifically, investment banking, sales and trading, and research. I have never worked at one of these jobs, but from what I hear, the general idea is as follows: long hours, high-pressure environment, lots of research, model-building, financial calculations, and presentation-making, fast-paced environment good pay
As you may have guessed, different types of companies come to MIT to recruit for corporate positions in finance/strategy, and these jobs (especially at tech companies) are popular with double majors. Another common career paths is consulting, which can be strategy, operations, environmental, financial, economic, law, health care, etc. And for people who want to take UROPing to the next level, there is research assisting for the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, or Fed (generally at one of the Federal Reserve’s regional banks). You can also do this sort of work at places like the government’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of the Treasury, or Council of Economic Advisors (CEA)
Some of the other things people do after graduation include military service, volunteer work, and non-profit work, but I don’t know as much about these fields. In addition, entrepreneurship is a huge part of the MIT culture, and econ grads can team up with grads from other departments to launch a new product/service and change the world. Later on after graduation, older alums sometimes switch into fields like private equity, venture capital, and corporate management.
Later on down the line, here are some of the things MIT economics alums are doing:
1. Ben Bernanke – Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
2. Steve Levitt – author, Freakonomics
3. Gary Loveman – CEO/Chairman of the Board/President, Harrah’s Entertainment
4. Laura Tyson – former Dean, London Business School and Dean, Haas School of Business
5. Paul Krugman – professor and columnist, New York Times
And I’m copying these names from the admissions website’s Notable Alumni page
* John Thain ’77, CEO, New York Stock Exchange
* John Reed ’61, Chairman, New York Stock Exchange
* Lawrence Summers ’75, former Secretary of the Treasury
* Thomas Gerrity ’63, Dean Emeritus, Wharton School
* Donald Layton, former co-CEO, JP Morgan Chase
* Denis Bovin ’69, Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Bear Stearns
* Gregory Palm ’70, Executive Vice President, Goldman Sachs
P.S. A giant high-five to my special someone for giving me mojito-flavored gum– brilliant!!!