To be honest I don’t remember much of my presentation. I was so nervous that everything was just a blur. I do know that I jumped around a bit and skipped over some points that I really should have talked about which was definitely not part of the plan. Overall though I felt that I did pretty well, which was a lot better than I expected myself to do.
Looking back on my project and presentation, there are definitely some aspects where I could have done better. I got a little behind at points and that made things more difficult than they had to be. I learned a lot in terms of how to conduct research and how to present it in a coherent and interesting way. There are skills that I was really happy to learn and they will definitely help me going forward in my college career.
Preparing for the presentation was surprisingly easier than I had anticipated. At that point I had already turned in my final paper therefore I pretty much had memorized my paper from constantly working on it. Turns out when you know what you’re actually talking about writing an outline goes much faster. The part I was especially worried about was the Q and A session after. It seemed quite inimidating there having you stand up there by yourself as people pick at the project you have been working so hard for. Also at that point even if there were recommended changes, I had no ability to make them because I had already turned in the final. So note to next time, do not make the “special” list.
As I look back on this semester, I wish I had utilized the blog more. As I said earlier, I spent a lot of time worrying that I wasn’t controlling for enough variables in my research, and thus my project was doomed to fail. I also did not post on the blog that often. Sometimes the blog site would not load on my computer, but instead of just logging back in a few hours later, I would forget about it and not come back for a week or more. If I had spent more time on the blog I would have realized that other students were also worried about their projects and I would not have felt so anxious
I’m finally done with this major and I’ve learned a lot. I want to give some advice to all of you up-and-coming econ majors.
- Economics is not just “knowing” the material learned in class like most other subjects. You need to “understand” it. Think about everything you learn and then track back and see where it comes from or if that thing could be applied in other places. Look in between the lines and for the love of god watch Khan Academy videos (until the major gets too advanced)
- Stick with it. Economics is an extremely hard major. I know Intermediate Macro and Micro are hard but that’s as bad as it gets. Econ is such an awesome subject that you can apply to anything. It is so rewarding when you realize that you actually kind of know what you are talking about.
- Work in groups. Meet outside of class. Study together. Building off of each other is essential and it can save your life on a test. Maybe you zoned out and missed something important in class. You don’t have to worry because your homie caught it and will bring it up at a study sesh. It helps so much when working together and you make some great friends doing it. Don’t be shy.
- Use your professors as a resource. All of the Economics professors are cool. They all have their own personality but they all are incredibly helpful. Talk to them about any problems you are having.
- UTILIZE THE ECONOMICS HOUSE! If you don’t do any of the other things that I have written, that’s fine, but please do this one thing. All of the things above will come naturally if you just spend a ton of time in Econ House. You will see professors so you can ask them questions and students will also be around doing work and helping each other out. It is an amazing resource to have and it is so much better than trying to do work in the Library or the ITCC. Plus, how many other majors can say that they have a house all to themselves? (only creative writing but nobody cares about them)
Stay classy, San Diego
When I turned in my paper Sunday evening, I felt immediately relieved. Now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I’m still happy – but felt I could’ve done so much more had I gone a slightly different route.
The big challenge for me was data: It was ample, but took some fairly significant work to form into a usable format. I think had I restricted my approach … maybe looking in depth at one or two years of military spending or at just one location or branch of service, I could have pulled out some of the more nuanced relationships.
All that said, I like the idea of my work this semester and think it’s something I’d like to continue with in the future. I like the concept of taking a look at how external factors change the way we do business (military spending, personal budgets, you name it..) and trying to theorize why it may be these behaviors exist.
I’m pretty proud of all my work this semester and hope everyone feels the same way. One thing that’s been apparent across the presentations is the significant level of interest and effort we all put into our topics. This is how we learn.
I’ll sum up some closing comments for next semester’s students after exams tomorrow.
Organizing a powerpoint is one of the hardest things to do. I try to organize it in the same format as my paper. I think I should’ve of tried to organize it in a way that highlights more of the results of my research rather the structure of my research project.
My biggest problem was developing my theoretical model. I chose the theory of supply to understand the effect price has on my macro aggregate variables. I looked at just the demand side to see how price influences the demand of oil and the impact it has on macro variables. Greenlaw brought up an excellent point in my presentation, I should have considered the supply side of the theory. In history, not only has demand shocks caused prices to fluctuate(price shock) but supply shocks too. Considering this, I would get a better understanding of how price shocks, no matter the cause, would affect my macro variables.
The entire process of economic analysis has been a lesson of humility. This experience can be summarized as trial and error. The most difficult portions of the class happened at the beginning, middle, and the end. What I mean by that is: initially choosing a topic was frustrating; finding an economic theory that represented my model was daunting; and running the regression analysis in order to complete my paper felt like, what I imagine, insanity feels like. Although the hardships make the largest impression on me the time invested to overcome them was most likely the best lesson.
Choosing a topic is difficult. I liken it to choosing a username. You want to choose something that is significant to you, interesting to others that may see it, and is something that you can commit to. Fortunately, the news coverage on presidential candidates helped to nudge me in the right direction. Immigration. I wanted to explore what kind of impact that immigrants have on U.S. citizens.
Finding literature that pertains to immigrants is vast and has multiple viewpoints about its benefits and costs. What model effectively represents my research question? I went back and forth looking for previous economic models that I could use. I finally found one that I thought encompassed what I was looking for within the immigration surplus. As I progressed and was nearer to the final draft I realized that the model was too narrow. I needed a broader representation which came in the form of the aggregate production function. The process of finally reaching a final model was also a system of testing, retesting, and looking for alternatives.
The regression analysis caused a large degree of anxiety. I include gathering data in this portion. Finding meaningful and consistent data is heartbreaking. Data that you find may need to be adjusted or due to the small amount that you are able to obtain may need to be omitted. In hindsight, the earlier that you can start gathering and formulating your data the better. I would prioritize this step as high as the literature survey. I ran countless regressions. I adjusted my independent variables repeatedly. I was focused, even obsessed, on finding a linear regression that was statistically significant! This is the point where you must decide where the search ends and documenting the results begin. That is hard. I feel as though I gained a greater understanding of regressions because I had run so many tests.
Presenting the results was fun. At the end of it all, you have so much data and information that you’ve gathered along the way and you want the class to know it…in 12 minutes. Those 12 minutes are difficult to pace yourself. One or two practice runs do not cut it. As I presented I tried to slow my initial pace because in my practice presentations I found that I finished too quickly. In front of the class my initial pace was too slow. Finding the “Goldilocks” pace is something that must come with experience. It’s finished and now and I have that much more experience for my next presentation.
The entire process is rocky. I constantly doubted the value of the material that I submitted. I was unsure many steps of the way. But I can walk away feeling that I did gain a better understanding of the process. Each of us is attempting to create something new and incorporate the things that we’ve learned along the way. We are not solving a problem that already had an answer. Our problem doesn’t necessarily have an established answer. As economists we are attempting to find problems that need to be analyzed and answered.