Friday, January 30, 2009

About an Industrial Career

If you are applying to enter job market this year and desire an industrial career, these are some suggestions.

1. Recruiters more and more use social professional network to find potential candidates. It is advisable that you create a profile on or careerbuilders or monster. In creating such profile please bear in mind:
a. How you present yourself is important. You are a doctoral candidate and thus a student, but also you are an analytical thinker with good command of quantitative tools. It will be helpful if you position yourself as such and not only a student.(for example do not put Doctoral Candidate in the title of your profile, put something like applied economist, econometrician, economic analyst that describes you as a professional!)
b. Highlight your software expertise and quantitative background as well as economic coursework that required you to write.
c. In mentioning econometrics be specific about techniques you know well. Remember there are different things about econometrics, it is good to be specific: are you good at panel data or time series, logistic regression or cluster analysis? say that, econometrics is a vast field.

2. It is important that you demonstrate ability in doing tasks such as data management and data manipulation using software packages such as SAS. If you do not have any experience about these, remember if you know SAS DATA step well (thos SAS users out there know what I mean by well), you are almost there. Read a help manual and perform a few codes that require you to merge or to split data sets.
a. Prepare yourself to answer questions such as: how do you merge two data sets? How SAS merges these data sets?
b. Learn a little bit of SQL (more than a little bit actually).
c. Find a business data, something with ID codes for consumers or geographical locations and exercise with it, it does help.

3. Highlight your experience building models and doing research. The market is competitive but your potential employers want to know how much training you might require. Show it that you do not need much.

4. Many employers accept online submission, when doing so do not forget to activate the alert for the new jobs, which keeps you aware of new openings.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Yorker's Article about an Iranian Economist

New Yorker latest issue has a very interesting report on Dr. Tabibian, an Iranian professor and yours truly professor in economics, when I was a graduate student at IRPD. As a professor he was inspiring. He encouraged us, his students, to write about economics and market ideas. (This resulted in three of us: Pouyan Mashayekh, Ali Farahbakhsh and me, to start writing for Hamshahri, this was late 1990's) A new phase in dialogue over economic issues was opened in Iran, which had been dominated by the leftist ideologies until then. Today two daily papers are committed to market ideas in economy in Iran and almost all have accepted its principles, although not practicing it yet.

He was a faculty member of Institute for Research in Planning and Development (IRPD), a pilot institute for economic studies and research that launched a master program in economics to teach it according to syllabus at Duke, MIT and UCLA. It was a great program to be part of and it accepted applicants from graduates of all fields, many of engineering students from Sharif University of Technology, University of Tehran and from Polytechnic University came to this institute to study economics. This was a new change in Iranian academic environment, where social sciences was the fiefdom of leftists and their ideas. To talk of free market was considered heresy. IRPD left an impact on Iranian academia. However the bureaucracy took care of that.

IRPD became Institute for Management and Planning Studies (IMPS) under President Khatami. Ironically reformists, particularly old leftists, treated him and his colleagues no better than the current administration, although may be less harshly. They blamed him for liberalization of market during President Rafsanjani's administration, and when the time came they forced a new administrator upon IMPS whose ideas could not have been more different. Today IMPS does not accept students. Sharif University of Technology followed that example by establishing its Graduate School of Management and Economics (GSME).

Dr. Tabibain's story is the story of those who wanted to make a difference through professionalism. They have witnessed how their agenda has been compromised by all political groups and how their careers have suffered from ideological animosity of their rivals. His is a true story, a story worthy of telling and reading. That is why you should read this article.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We knew Beethoven because of Him

Someone might tell you a Mr. Karim ChamanAra passed away in Tehran, Iran. His name might not be among familiar names in media reports, or among Iranian directors and musicians who frequent capitals and metropolitans. Nonetheless generations of Iranians knew mighty names such as Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and etc because of him. Karim ChamanAra dedicated his life to production and publication of music, both classical and Iranian traditional. His name is worthy of remembrance and our gratitude.

Mr. ChamanAra was the founder of Beethoven music house in Tehran, a company producing and distributing musical recordings and tapes. His store was also named Beethoven, in the crowded streets of central Tehran; there one could have found a different world. Rows and rows of masters, musical scores, performances, composers, for many going through his shelves was a study of classical music. Through him we heard Beethoven’s 5th and 9th, the thunder of artillery in Borodino as captured by Tchaikovsky’s 1812, the hymns of Bach’s baroque, Mozart’s geniuses and so many others. Located a few block from University of Tehran, a short walk from Alborz High School and Polytechnic University of Tehran (Amirkabir University of Technology), Beethoven was a landmark by itself. Many like your correspondent did not go there to shop; we went there to pay our respects on pilgrimage.

May be it is hard for you, my dear reader, to imagine the significance of his work, but in revolution and war, in social turmoil and midst political unrest keeping the gates of heavens open is no easy task. Because of his dedication many found moments of tranquility, many discovered the joy and passion of music. He will be remembered.

Photo is from BBCPERSIAN.COM

Monday, January 12, 2009

Khatami or MirHussein Mousavi

Former President Khatami told reporters On Monday that either he or Mr. MirHussein Mousavi, Iran's premier during Iran-Iraq war, will run for presidency against President Ahmadinejad. This is the first public announcement Mr. Khatami has made about his plans for coming elections. He also said that the current administration diversion from development plans and accepted 2020 vision has cost country dearly. He criticized the government by adding “instead of going forward for 4 years we went backward for 4 years."

Although Mr. Khatami has remained actively involved in Iran's politics since his second term ended as the president, Mr. MirHussein Mousavi has been considered retired. He led the government during the Iran-Iraq war serving as the prime minister, while Ayatollah Khamenie was the President of IRI. His government implemented centralist economic policies, limiting private sector to a few industries and expanding public sector to include several enterprises in different industries. His emphasis on a leftist approach to the economy caused several disagreements with conservative factions of Majlis. Trained as an architect he has a quiet professional life for the last 20 years, designing houses and holding art exhibition. Although his name always comes up when a presidential election is approaching.
* Photo is taken from BBC Persian website

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back from ASSA San Francisco 2009

This year Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) held its annual meeting in San Francisco, CA. The main body in these associations is American Economic Association. However several other associations were present, including Econometric Society (ES), Middle East Economics Association (MEEA) and etc.
For many this meeting is also known as the “Job Market" since several PhD candidates and recent graduates receive their first chance to talk to their potential employers. And for life of me I do not know how anyone can evaluate anyone as a potential colleague in 30 minutes! I believe that is why hiring committees intend to rely on brands and their instincts more than anything else. That is also why job seekers must have a network of connections before this event to make themselves known. Otherwise they are only another face in a line of dozens of talented candidates.
The recession and the recent economic events have caused tremendous distortion in the market this year. Several schools hiring budgets were frozen. Some received word in the last minute that they can hire, some heard that they could not.
The conference also is a place for the members of MEEA to meet and to have their annual gatherings. There were a few sessions including a poster session where researches from schools in U.S. and universities in Algiers, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and other countries presented their work (I presented in the poster session myself).
The quality of some of the papers was remarkable. I particularly liked a paper presented by Nagla Rizk from American University of Cairo on copy rights and the lack of demand for them in Egypt. Her argument is that the main source of income for many artists is their performances in the weddings and other social events and thus they are not interested in collecting loyalties from the sale of their products. I found this paper and a few others intriguing because of their insightful approach to the fabric of daily economic life in the Middle East.
Overall one must admit that there is an increasing interest in the Middle Eastern economies that goes beyond the traditional approach, which focuses on oil and nothing else.