Notes from the Field: Priya Sankar '19

Priya Sankar ’19 interned with the Brookings Institution for the Spring 2017 term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

During the spring of 2017, I had the opportunity to intern at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington DC that considers current policies, ideas, and concepts in many areas. At Brookings, I worked in the Economic Policy department, specifically in the Center for Regulation and Markets, where I did data compilation and analysis on current and future financial policies. During my tenure, I gathered data and wrote analyses on trends in bank mergers and failures, the effects and weaknesses of Dodd-Frank, and the relationship between cyclical poverty and welfare programs. I also began to do a great deal of work on the current state of financial startup companies, which provide financial technology or “FinTech” that is becoming popular. My research focused on their uses and efficiencies, as well as the difficulty the government has in regulating them. This experience was incredibly valuable to me as it has prepared me to perform economic research. As I aspire to acquire a doctoral degree in economics, my experience at Brookings in Economic Studies has both given me an excellent background in the current situation of American economic policy, as well as the skills required to analyze it.

One of the best parts of working at Brookings was interacting with my colleagues, who included former Federal Reserve Chairman Dr. Ben Bernanke, Dr. David Wessel, a professor at Tuck Business School, and Dr. Martin Baily, a former Chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. I was able to participate in their research, compiling data, writing analyses, and editing articles for their publications. Experiencing their thought processes from conception to publication was valuable, as I was able to see the true quantity of research work and peer reviews that go into each article and each paper. Hearing their perspectives not only gave me a better understanding of current political events, but also gave me an insight into the motivations and limitations of their positions.

When I began my internship at Brookings, I was committed to investment banking, and had already performed an internship in finance. While I still enjoy that corporate lifestyle, being at Brookings introduced me to a more-laid back, thoughtful approach to economics. I was able to think about and analyze abstract concepts and decisions, and taking a step back gave me a new and broader perspective. The higher-level research I was doing gave me a better understanding of the industry, and made me feel like the research I was doing could make a real difference. Coming out of Brookings, I am strongly considering a career in economic research, perhaps even a professorship in Economics. If I choose to enter the financial industry, my work at Brookings has given me a good foundation of knowledge regarding the American financial system, how it is restricted, and the failures of regulation.            

Working for the Brookings Institution was an invaluable experience that taught me a great deal about myself and about public policy. Looking at an issue from the academic standpoint, the media coverage, as well as the political dialogue showed me how truly complex, detailed, and collaborative the work behind a piece of legislation is, and how little of that process politicians and representatives get to see. This process made me think back to the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors program (D-LAB), in which I learned how leadership decision-making happens under a lot of pressure and often incomplete information.

Lastly, I am extremely grateful to the Rockefeller Center for giving me this incredible opportunity. I have learned and grown so much during my time in DC and during my tenure at Brookings. This internship has changed me and my career aspirations, and it would not have been possible without their support.