There’s Always More: Going beyond math and economics for better research

There’s Always More: Going beyond math and economics for better research

Coffee chats, learning sessions and the data centre—Ibrahim Abuallail shares how he made the most of his internship at BII+E.
There’s Always More: Going beyond math and economics for better research
Ibrahim Abuallail
Research Assistant, Alumni
October 5, 2022
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As the curtain draws on my internship at BII+E, I look back at many of the things I learned, accomplished, and enjoyed over the past 4 months. 

As a PhD student in Economics, I had a strong interest in exploring and working on innovation, technology, and topics on labour economics. When I was offered the internship, I was determined to use this opportunity to expand my horizons, acquire a deeper level of knowledge in my areas of interest, and have fun. 

Between hours spent editing and learning “datatable” and “ggplot” R codes, writing (what I thought were cool) blog post titles that Nina Dow (Comms + Marketing Specialist) would not approve, and asking questions that my mentor, Viet Vu (Manager of Economic Research), would answer with even more questions that would send me exploring further and further into the literature, I believe I managed to achieve all my goals for the summer.

The work  

At BII+E, I worked in a supportive, innovative, and encouraging environment. I had all the knowledge and tools I needed to be able to write and publish research. I also found unwavering support from Michelle Park (Manager of Strategic Initiatives), who helped me a lot throughout the onboarding and beyond. 

During these 4 months, I conducted research on movements in the digital economy and the effects on labour demand across jobs in Canada. I participated in weekly editorial content meetings and wrote a blog post on AI and patent laws. I was able to improve my programming skills after learning several new powerful R packages. I also learned how to create visually appealing data representations. During my down time, I broadened my background knowledge by completing readings on innovation, digital technology, labor economics, and more. 

The Matrix

One of the highlights of the summer was being able to work at a Research Data Centre (RDC). There, I gained insights on the process of requesting data, vetting output, and starting a new project at the RDC, which I believe will be essential throughout the upcoming years of my PhD studies. While I was a bit disappointed that the RDC looks more like a regular office than what I imagined would be a set from one of “The Matrix” films, I certainly learned the importance of data and privacy rules. The analyst at the RDC would offer a lot of insights and support whenever needed, and works to ensure that vetting is done correctly and for the purpose stipulated in the project request. 

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Two screenshots of message from Executive Director comparing what people imagine to be the data centre (scene from sci-fi movie, The Matrix) versus what it actually is (similar to a regular public library)..

Sessions, sessions, and more sessions.

During the summer, I also attended a diverse selection of topic presentations in the CEA (Canadian Economics Association) conference, including sessions on patents and innovation, monetary policy, Bank of Canada fellowship lecture, credit markets, macroeconomics, labour economics, and more. The knowledge I acquired there helped further fuel my interest in working on areas in labour economics. Through direct research at BII+E, I had obtained a solid understanding of the Canadian National Occupation Classification (NOC) and the American equivalent of this database, and learned how to apply it in research.

I also attended several university workshops delivered by experts working in diverse economic fields, including Industrial Organization, Economic Theory, Labour Economics, Monetary and Public Economics, Econometrics, Environmental and Health Economics, and International Economics. These sessions helped me gain a holistic view of economics, acquire insights into the latest research being done across different economic fields, and understand the different choices ahead as I work towards my PhD thesis. 

There’s always more

While the technical knowledge and skills I acquired at BII+E are certainly invaluable, I believe the greatest reward of being at BII+E is the ability to learn things beyond economics and math. Working with a diverse, vibrant, and intelligent team, I was able to learn different things by setting up meetings with different team members to learn about project management, communications, fundraising, and partnerships. I also had the opportunity to attend the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) summit during the Canadian Economics Association (CEA) annual meeting, learning from the experiences of others and suggesting solutions for more inclusion in the economics field in Canada. I later decided to join a data working group to focus on quantitative and qualitative data on diversity within the economics profession in Canada, and plan to continue to work on it over the coming months/years.

Home

I am grateful for this experience, and grateful for the efforts of everyone on the team in guiding and helping me, and making me feel included throughout this summer. Special thanks to Michelle and Viet for constantly discussing my goals and targets, and ensuring I have everything I need to achieve them. 

BII+E felt a lot like home.

For media enquiries, please contact Nina Rafeek Dow, Marketing + Communications Specialist at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.

Ibrahim Abuallail
Research Assistant, Alumni
October 5, 2022
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