The Economic Studies (ES) program at Brookings is committed to investing in the next generation of economic policy experts. Each year, ES employs approximately 15 research assistants for one or two year appointments. We aim to recruit top talent with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to work on emerging and critical policy issues and offer innovative policy recommendations to improve the nation’s economic future. Research Assistants in ES support experts as they address obstacles to long-term economic growth and opportunity. Positions are entry-level and involve data analysis, fact checking manuscripts, statistical analysis, literature searches and reviews, and summarizing research results for incorporation into working papers and project publications. Actual duties will vary depending on the particular project needs of the scholars or centers to whom the RA is assigned. Our staff work in every area of economic policy, including:
- Banking and Finance
- Domestic Poverty, Social Mobility, and Welfare
- Energy and Climate Economics
- Fiscal Policy
- Health Economics
- International Economics
- Labor Economics
- Monetary Policy
- Regulatory Issues
- Tax Policy
Research assistants play an essential role in the Economic Studies program. Working side by side with economists, RAs develop strong quantitative analysis, critical thinking, and writing skills – marketable skills useful for pursuing career opportunities and advanced studies in a variety of fields. Through on the job experience, attending seminars, training and tuition reimbursement programs, RA positions provide you with a solid foundation for whichever career path you pursue. In addition, RAs can expect:
- In house learning opportunities in the ES “Lunch and Learn” series. Recent offerings include a seminar on tips for writing appropriately and clearly and a six-part course exploring Brookings Senior Fellow Bill Gale’s forthcoming book, Fiscal Therapy: Curing America’s Debt Addition and Investing in the Future.
- Career exploration with ES’s Ask Me Anything series, where senior staff and special guests talk career path, work-life balance, and more.
- Ample opportunity to attend public lectures and events hosted by ES scholars and Brookings other research programs, Foreign Policy, Governance Studies, Global Economy & Development, and Metropolitan Policy.
- Abundant networking opportunities—both formal, via mentoring programs and organizations such as the Brookings Data Network or Women’s Impact Network, and informal, such as ES Happy Hours and other social events.
- Access to Brookings benefits, such as the Lynda.com training platform, tuition assistance, and the employee assistance program.
- A supportive place to launch your career or graduate education. Some RAs go on to top graduate schools in economics, law, public policy, and political science. Others take exciting jobs at government agencies (e.g., the CEA, CBO, and Federal Reserve), nonprofits, and private consulting firms.
RAs are hired during our annual recruitment process that begins in the fall for positions that begin the following summer. We also occasionally hire RAs at other times during the year when project needs arise. Keep an eye on our job postings to stay up to date with the latest opportunities. For positions starting in summer 2020, we will begin accepting applications in September 2019. RA positions are best suited for those with an undergraduate degree in Economics, Mathematics, or other social sciences with a minor in Economics. Candidates should be prepared to submit:
- Cover letter
- Transcripts from undergraduate institution (and graduate, if applicable). Copies or unofficial transcripts are ok.
- Two letters of recommendation from professors or past employers/supervisors
Be curious! In addition to quantitative and writing skills, our most successful RAs are intellectually curious and take advantage of our rich environment to learn from the experts. Follow all instructions and meet deadlines. We get too many applications to consider incomplete applications. Use your cover letter wisely! Some ideas:
- Why do you want to work at a think tank? At Brookings? In Economic Studies?
- Tell us about your thesis or another economics research project you’ve done.
- What economic policy topics are you interested in studying, and why? You don’t have to have a preferred topic, but if you’re passionate about tax policy or labor economics, this is your chance to tell us.
The work you’ll do here is detail oriented—show us that you pay attention to the details. For example, lots of people get our name wrong—we’re the Brookings Institution, not “institute”. Take time to proofread carefully, or better yet, ask someone else to proofread for you. If selected for a phone interview, do your homework. Look around the website and investigate our research. Be familiar with the work of the Center or scholar you’ll be talking to.
“Working at Brookings gave me the opportunity to apply technical research and analytical skills to a broad array of pressing policy issues that affect economic mobility and income inequality in the United States. I was able to meaningfully contribute to and author published research projects with the flexibility to pursue my own research interests, take academic coursework, and learn from the brilliant mentorship of some of the country’s brightest and esteemed intellectual leaders.”
Eleanor Krause RA with the Center on Children and Families, 2016-2018 Currently Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at Harvard University
“My time as a Research Assistant at Brookings helped me choose a career path while developing my research skills in a welcoming, collaborative work environment. I learned about so many aspects of policy through daily projects and events ranging from internal lunches to highly-attended public panels. Now as a student at Yale Law, I frequently draw from my Brookings experience in class discussions and ideas for papers. In addition to the practical skills development, I actively enjoyed spending time with my colleagues. My group of Research Assistants ate lunch together daily and spent time together outside of work. The scholars I worked with cared about my interests and provided constructive, substantive feedback on every assignment. Brookings opened up a world of opportunities for me and was truly a formative experience.”
Megan Mumford RA with the Hamilton Project, 2015-2017 Currently a second-year law student at Yale Law School
“As a Research Analyst at the Brookings Institution, I’ve enjoyed numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. The convening power of the institution, the depth of knowledge of the scholars, and the collegial environment create a unique intersectionality of ideas. In this way, Brookings has allowed me to learn and engage in a broad range of conversations about policy and economics that would not have been possible elsewhere. Specifically, I’ve had the opportunity to work on technical and complex research projects while also communicating policy succinctly and effectively to the general public. For junior staff, such a diverse and balanced workplace offers an opportunity for emerging leaders to find their voice.”
Michael Ng Research Analyst with the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, 2017-2019 Matriculating at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University in the fall, working toward an MBA.
“Brookings is a special place. It’s the kind of place where you get in the elevator and look to your left, only to discover that the author of a book you’re reading happens to be in the elevator with you. It’s the kind of place where you get to create research and policy products that get read by policymakers and help shape debates you care about. And it’s the kind of place that you’ll forever feel connected to, even as you move on to graduate school or a new job, both of which will be easier to get to because of the skills and credibility you’ve gained. I had a great experience, and would do it all again.”
Peter Olson Research Analyst with the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, 2015-2017 Currently JD/MBA candidate at Stanford
“Spending two and a half years at the Brookings Institution was an invaluable experience, both while I was working there, and after I moved on to other career opportunities. After completing my Master of Public Policy, I was hired as a Research Assistant in the Economic Studies program. On a daily basis, I was able to work on research projects with leaders in economic policy, attend events where I heard from everyone from legislators or Supreme Court justices, and have cafeteria conversations with some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Having Brookings experience opened many career doors for me, demonstrating that I had the skill set to work at any other policy organization. My time at Brookings not only launched my career in policy, but I gained valuable technical skills, interacted with experts in my field, and learned how to ask the right questions for a career in public policy.”
Emily Parker RA with the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, 2013-2015 Currently a Policy Analyst at the Education Commission of the States
“Working at Brookings was an invaluable experience for me at a critical time in my professional development. I had the pleasure of working on a variety of topics, from health care to infrastructure finance and saw how think tanks provide connective tissue between academia and government. Working at Brookings helped me think through where I wanted to end up in this equation and how to get there. The experience and experts I worked with helped prepare me for the Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy master’s program and ultimately led me to a job at the White House Office of Management and Budget. The background I have from Brookings often informs my approach to this work and I will always be grateful to the friends and colleagues who helped make my time there so valuable.”
Bryant Renaud RA with the Tax Policy Center, 2012-2014 Currently working at the White House Office of Management and Budget
“Working as a research assistant in the Economic Studies division at the Brookings Institution gave me a chance to acquire the research skills needed to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Maryland. My day-to-day interactions with well-respected economists helped me to formulate research questions which have become a core part of my research agenda as a graduate student. Furthermore, I had a first-hand look at how well-executed research can have a sizable impact in the policy debate taking place in Washington, D.C., as policymakers routinely cited analysis carried out by Economic Studies’ scholars.”
Fernando Saltiel RA with the Tax Policy Center, 2012-2015 Currently Ph.D. candidate in Economics, University of Maryland, College Park