What's an Economics and Politics Student Doing at ETR?

What's an Economics and Politics Student Doing at ETR?

By Chris Connelly | September 7, 2017
Former Data Core Intern, ETR

Not many people would align my professional goals with those of a non-profit. I’m majoring in Economics and Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After graduation, I plan to earn a Masters in Applied Economics and Finance. Then—law school. I want to use my knowledge of economics and law to work as a corporate attorney.

So why did someone like me choose ETR for an internship?

Building New Skills: Empirical Analysis

As an intern, I worked with the Data Core section of ETR’s Science Department. The aspect that was most interesting to me was the opportunity to work on empirical analyses with some of ETR’s senior researchers. I was able to apply many of the data analysis skills I’d learned in my courses.

I was also challenged to learn more about advanced techniques. This was the only way I was going to be able to address the real issues in the analyses the senior researchers were working on. Through my research, I was able to identify some Stata procedures ETR might be able to use in analyzing count data. The Science Department is actively exploring the possibility of using these in some of its current work.

Sharing the Learning

In addition to researching empirical analysis techniques, I had other responsibilities while working at ETR. For example, I helped plan and lead several training sessions on basic statistics for new research assistants, including the use of statistical analysis software, particularly SPSS and Stata.

I also created several short tutorials to support some of the standards ETR researchers are creating in the Data Core checklists. These tutorials covered every step of the research process, from data cleaning to preliminary analysis to final analysis and presentation.

A Great Place to Intern

The work I did at ETR was both interesting and useful. I felt I was making a significant contribution to the research and work of ETR’s Science Department. I was given a significant amount of independence and latitude to complete assignments myself, but I also knew that I had the support of the researchers if I was ever unsure about how to best complete my tasks. The internship was especially beneficial for me because I was able to gain additional experience in areas where I felt I was still relatively inexperienced.

I believe other Economics students would benefit from an internship experience at ETR. It offers the opportunity to take data analysis skills learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world. Bringing what we’ve learned to situations with practical applications is truly valuable.


Chris Connelly is an undergraduate majoring in Economics and Politics at University of California, Santa Cruz. He can be reached at cjconnelly100@gmail.com.

If you’re interested in learning more about ETR’s internship program, you can contact Lisa Unti, MPH, at lisau@etr.org.

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