Economics master’s strikes balance between academic and career focus

Ramsha Jaweed

MA graduate | Economics

student crouching among tulip gardenRamsha Jaweed, a graduate of the Economics MA program used her time in the program to collaborate on research opportunities with professors and establish strong professional relationships within industry to set herself up for success upon the completion of her graduate degree. She says, “My co-op experience was very memorable and significant towards my career as it provided me with a very unique opportunity to work in two vastly different sectors: public service and finance.” Being able to gain valuable working experience in both sectors afforded Ramsha the chance to determine which industry better aligned with her career goals and the skills she was hoping to advance.

The co-operative education component is at the heart of the Economics master’s program, and it’s what sets this program apart from its competitors. The balance of academics and job-readiness afforded by this program ensures that students are well-prepared for whichever path they choose—either academic track or industry. “When I was job hunting for my co-op placements, I was floored at the wealth of jobs available for me to apply to as an economics master’s student,” says Ramsha. “The vast opportunities available in this co-op program are unparalleled with any other program in the country.”

During Ramsha’s first co-op term, she worked for Service Canada – Employment and Social Development Canada in the Labour Market and Socioeconomic Information Directorate as an Information Analyst Researcher. Through her qualitative and quantitative analysis of Ontario’s labour market, her work had an impact on decision-making at the policy level. She was able to prove the value of her skillset and join the new data visualization team which allowed her to advocate for an improvement to the data analysis techniques. During her second co-op term, she worked at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan within the Total Fund Management department’s Economics team. In this role, she researched and analyzed macroeconomic, socioeconomic and political trends in a bid to influence investment strategies and identify investment opportunities. Ramsha taught herself how to navigate the data analysis and visualization software known as Macrobond and she then applied those skills to automate all of the charts that were prepared by the team, which in turned improved efficiency.

She enjoyed a rich, satisfying graduate student experience due to her involvement in a number of events and initiatives run through the University. She took part in the first Canadian National Policy Challenge hosted by the Canadian Research Data Centre Network, sponsored by Statistics Canada and SAS Canada. Students were judged by academics and policy makers, and it was at this competition that Ramsha was awarded second prize for her research on the economic outcomes of female refugees in Canada. She was able to apply her econometric analysis skills to a real-world problem. Reflecting on her experience, she says, “I was also lucky to have the guidance of my professors, most notably, Professor Ana Ferrer who mentored me during my research. My experience in this competition showed me the importance of practical application of the concepts learned in class.”

Now that Ramsha has secured a full-time role post-graduation, she sees how the vital skills and concepts she learned, like the essential practical skills in programming that she developed in a class she took called Numerical Methods, are now the skills demanded by employers in today’s job market. Approaching a graduate degree can be surprising, invigorating and daunting all at once. What helped Ramsha to not only succeed but thrive in her new educational environment was her confidence in asking for help when she needed it. She says, “I was amazed by my professors' open-door policy in this program that allowed me to have many insightful discussions outside the class that aided in my learning and knowledge. For me personally, going to University of Waterloo really honed my skills and prepared me well for the job market.”