Notes from the Field: Daniel Shlien '18

Daniel Shlien '18 interned at the Office of Economic Policy in the U.S. Treasury Department​ for the 2017 winter term with the support of Mr. E. John Rosenwald Jr. '52 Public Affairs Fund. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

This winter I had the opportunity to intern within the Office of Economic Policy in the U.S. Treasury Department, which is an office consisting of about twenty-five PhD economists and a handful of other staff who perform research a wide range of economic issues and advise the Secretary of the Treasury on those issues. During my internship, I was one of four interns who assisted economists in their research by cleaning up datasets, performing analyses, creating models, producing graphs and other visuals, and writing memos on our findings. One of the best parts about working in the Economic Policy office is its size –there are no research assistants and each economist is usually the only expert in their field in the office. Therefore, I worked directly with leading economists, people whose opinions on a subject, whether it be housing or healthcare, move the needle in the world of policy.

Another wonderful part of the internship, one that I did not expect, was having the opportunity to meet a wide variety of economic professionals outside of the Treasury building. My supervisor arranged for meetings with several former office members and interns who currently work at places like the Federal Reserve Board, the Brookings Institute, economic consulting firms, and more, which gave myself and the other interns an opportunity to see what working in economics is like at different places and different levels.

On the technical side, the internship helped me develop my data analysis and coding skills. I used STATA extensively to look through government-produced datasets, manipulate variables, and run regressions. This built on the STATA framework I developed in my statistics and econometrics coursework and will help me do research for a paper I will write in ECON 49 –the culminating experience of my economics major –this spring on a topic in international economics. My work informing policy on issues such as healthcare, energy, labor, and inflation helped me recognize my specific interests in the world of economics. It helped me narrow down topics I want to look at for my culminating paper in international economics next term as well as for the rest of my work in my major going forward. I also got to see what it is like to work within government and, after talking with several career staffers, the diverse set of reasons people choose to do so.

As I did this internship, I found myself going back to lessons I had learned in Rockefeller Center programs I had done in the past. The skills I developed in MLDP related to workplace etiquette were particularly useful. Because of those skills I could ask the people I worked with constructive questions and present my work to them in a professional way that still reflected my personal style. Create your path also helped me process the knowledge and experience I gained throughout the internship, making easier to evaluate what I liked and did not like about my work and my life in Washington.

Finally, I would like to thank the Rockefeller Center and Mr. and Mrs. Rosenwald for funding my internship. Without the Rockefeller Student Internship Funding Program and the Mr. E. John Rosenwald Jr. '52 Public Affairs Fund, I would not have been able to spend my off term doing such engaging work in such an incredible city –their incredible generosity made a once in a lifetime experience possible.