I am a third-year Ph.D. student in Economics at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business

I'm graduating and currently searching for jobs. I post on graduate school forums and, since many have appreciated it, I'll aggregate some of it here. See the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs) and Other undergraduate programs that can better prepare you for graduate school sections for information on research experiences for undergraduates and more (to be continuously updated).

Interests & Research

I am interested in applied microeconomics in topics like energy policy, labor supply, and market design. The current projects I'm pursuing revolve around solar panel adoption and(, a backburner topic,) market labor supply focused on training and employment preparedness.

I am currently funded by an NSF graduate fellowship.

Personal

I graduated as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar with degrees in Mathematics and Economics from the University of North Dakota in 2018.

I am from Grand Forks, ND. Outside of work and class, I enjoy going to comedy shows and hockey games, playing chess and table tennis, slowly going down IMDB's top 100 movies, and listening to comedy and economics podcasts. Pittsburgh is a wonderful city with many attractions to see for someone from a much smaller town!

Teaching Assistant

Below are classes I was a TA in---format is: course name and number, the Mini (quarters)/Semester and year the course was offered, and the Professor for the course:

  • Graduate course(s):

    • Statistical Foundations for Business Analytics (46-883), Mini 3 in 2020 & Mini 3 2021, with Professor Fallaw Sowell

    • Forecasting Time Series Data (45-912), M4 2020, with Professor Fallaw Sowell

  • Undergraduate course(s):

    • Political Economy (73-332), Spring 2020 & Spring 2021, with Professor Steve Spear

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs)---overview, statement of purpose, letter of recommendation

My process is for math(/economics), but applies to any STEM field:

  • (To resume-build for a research experience see the "PREP" subsection below points 1:7)

  • Get a feel of what is out there by looking at points 1:7

  • Aggregate which specific REUs overlap with your interests and the experiences you want to gain to improve yourself

  • Consider your profile as a candidate: previous research experience and coursework, GPA, letters of recommendation, minority status, etc.---ask yourself which would position you would fit into best (don't be afraid to reach out to past students in each respective REU, I respond to all inquiries like that for the REU/programs I was in, for instance);

  • Reach out to faculty if you have any questions about the upcoming REU. For instance, ask about research topics if they're not posted, and what specific skills you might want to hone before you apply (if there's a timely gap). Don't ask if you're likely to get in because that's simply not appropriate and you can generally gauge that yourself;

  • Search for programs and tailor your statements to fit the programs you want to get into the most;

  • Write a statement of purpose that covers the below topics My approach below targets the key points you want (i.e., I recommend you write about the most important experiences first, then tie them together);

    • (1) what makes you interested in research/what motivated you towards independent research pursuits and (esp., emphasize what lead you to the first project)

    • (2) each project (necessary points to cover for each project: what we aimed to do and its importance/impact, details of the mechanics of the project and your role and tasks, the findings & whether they made sense with what you aimed to do [consistency with your hypothesis])

      • depending on the length of the project you were on and how many you had you can expand this longer than a paragraph but the two-page/500-word limits usually demand this format;

      • The projects should be chronological to make (*4), below, the optimal path;

        • You may want to exclude specific projects so that (*4) is possible;

    • (3) Why that REU will help push you along your desired path for research (the experience is relevant, the skillbuilding/tasks/softwares used are in your domain, and precisely the experiences you need [e.g., to prep for grad school or another project]).

    • (*4) AFTER you wrote the independent points above, you should 'weave' them together with nice transitions. A nice transition is showing how each project evolves your skills/interests/curiosity SUCH THAT the following project you embarked on was the best project to learn from and about;

    • DON'T(s)


After you apply according to the rolling deadlines that vary for programs, you won't hear back for many months (often). I recommend holding off accepting an offer until you've confirmed you're rejected from other programs. Each offer usually has a deadline to accept. When you get an offer, immediately contact programs you'd prefer over the one you've gotten accepted into. Ask the other programs when you will be informed of their decision and politely mention you have an offer and they have a deadline to accept.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs)---the listed programs and where to search

Points 1:7; highlight where you can find listings of REUs.

  1. This was my bread and butter when I applied to REUs. To my current knowledge, this site houses the most complete listing of programs, their respective requirements on how to, and when to, apply:

  2. From Mathprograms.org

  1. Again, one must cross-validate these listings of Mathalliance.org

  2. SIAM, starting from the node: www.siam.org/students-education/resources/for-undergraduate-students

  3. From MAA.org,

  4. From the AMS,

  5. The NSF. In hindsight, this is the most obvious site to go to when looking for an REU. I only used these at the last minute to confirm I applied to as many REUs near the end of the application cycle---the listing falls under broad categories a la classic NSF.


Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs)---preparing for REUs

PREP; to prepare for experiences I recommend

  • planning out your classes so you have applied experience (with software [R, Minitab, Stata, SPSS, Matlab, Maple, C, Java, etc.], large projects and data sets [private or public, like any agency of the 13 Federal Statistical agencies, https://www.bing.com/search?q=federal+statistical+agencies&PC=U316&FORM=CHROMN]); these skills and are what communicate your actual ability to complete a project as demanded by an REU or research team since it shows you can put knowledge into practical use

    • Sometimes a project for a class you don't care about is going to be the only project experience you have any work to show off your skills. So, you should make sure that you have nicely written code, well-documented results, and advances in your project (i.e., "On 02/04/2021 I changed X, Y, and Z, and this lead to improved A, B, and C.")

  • Take classes with the same professors to, ideally, get better letters of recommendations and mentorship/faculty-student projects

    • Naturally, you should target faculty that research, that research with students, and are currently (or will be in your timeframe) looking for new students to work with. Ask students ahead of you (cold email them, find them in study rooms/math help centers, etc.). The faculty with students that have presentations, papers, etc. to show for their work are going to be better since you MUST have something to show for your work.

  • Find the software you want to gain experience in and check if you can get a free license (if required) from your school (e.g., I snagged AutoCad for fun ideas of designing a dream home but I don't use it for my degree). Then, I recommend checking forums (i.e., on Reddit that r/stats subreddit is remarkable for recommendations on intro books/pdfs to use) for what material you should learn from. If you can't find anything quickly, just use libgen.is (of your own volition) to search for intro books---also textbooks can be found here, but you didn't get that from me.

  • Reach out to graduate students in your school and (sub)field for specific advice they might be able to give with respect to your school, faculty, and curriculum. Have no fear about not getting responses since it's a part of life. Personally, I (mass) email people independently with the same kind of script (that's non-obviously a script) and tell them who I am and what I'm reaching out to them for/about, and ask if they can help me. Seldom are the emails more than five sentences, often less than or equal to 3 sentences (who I am, what I am interested in [e.g., theirwork], and if they can help me with something).


If you've made it this far and want examples of my statements of purpose to REUs or even my National Science Foundation research and personal statement, please email me. I will, however, only send these to students whose identity I can verify. And if I do send you these, please do not share them or post them online as they were sent to you in strict confidence.

Other undergraduate programs that can better prepare you for graduate school

One of the greatest things I ever did was join the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Program because it afforded me the opportunity to receive guiding mentorship and research experience outside of the classroom. However, the McNair Scholars Program isn't the only program that should be held in high esteem, consider the other programs found on UMD's resource page for graduate application fee waivers; these program receive fee waivers because the programs meet inherent requirements, it's like recruiting for a research team from a competitor's research team. These programs qualify because those in the programs are often folk who fall into the following groups: minorities, low-income or other disadvantaged group, or women.

Likewise, some institutionally-specific programs could be offered at your school (the reader) that are not captured on these websites because those programs are made, and funded specifically, for students at your school. For instance, I participated in the US MASTERS Scholarship program which afforded similar benefits to the McNair Scholars Program with the added requirement of taking a class focused on graduate preparation---but served good advice overall.

Homeless Youth

In my last year of high school, I became homeless (/unaccompanied youth) due to difficult circumstances at home. I enjoy helping people in similar positions understand scholarships, government aid (SNAP/EBT), federal aid for school (FAFSA), and figuring out the best path forward to recover and healthily sustain a stable living environment. (Taxes are difficult because you may get more aid than you realize and must claim it.) I have mentored students who have gone through similar situations and if anyone knows someone in this kind of position please feel free to reach out for help.