After graduating, our students typically receive numerous offers for employment, including at leading academic and policy institutions or in industry. Many choose to pursue academic careers, where they compete internationally for the best academic positions. Chiara Aina and Regina Siebel chose to pursue academic positions and both received offers from several outstanding Economics Departments.
Congratulations to both of you! What was it like to be invited to universities across the world?
Regina Seibel: It was an exciting experience, but it came with a lot of pressure. As things went well for me, my expectations increased. During the first stage you hold online interviews. With a bit of luck you're invited for flyouts: you visit the university, give a presentation and meet the other professors, your potential new colleagues.
Chiara Aina: It was a fascinating and uncertain time. Every few days you find yourself at a different university, in a city you may never have been to before, trying to imagine yourself living and working there. At the same time, you want to give your best during the presentation and interviews because it is such an amazing opportunity to have this type of attention from important institutions.
Regina Seibel: The process is also a turning point. You move from being a student to being a sought-after expert in your field.
Chiara Aina: Exactly. I also learned a lot about how to talk to other academics about my work.
Why did you choose to study at the Zurich Graduate School of Economics?
Chiara Aina: It was clear to me that I wanted to study behavioral economics, and Zurich is the best place to do that. During the Visiting Days I was impressed by the interaction between the PhD students and the professors. I saw more collaboration than competition.
Regina Seibel: I felt the same way. Zurich exuded a friendly and collegial atmosphere. The program is demanding, no question about it, but there is also room for fun. It was important to me to not only get a good education, but also have a good time.
What aspects of the course have had a particular impact on you?
Regina Seibel: I wanted to work on topics of practical relevance and specialized in Industrial Organization. My supervisors always encouraged me to attend conferences, lean into current discussions, and exchange ideas with people who work on these topics every day. The reading groups were very valuable too; there we learned how to evaluate scientific work. Critically examining other researchers' projects helped me to improve my own research.
Chiara Aina: The first year was hard. I completed my master’s degree in business administration and had to catch up on some core economics courses. But my fellow students were very supportive. And yes, the reading groups are key, they are so valuable. I was encouraged to critically analyze papers published in top journals and to develop my own opinion on other’s research.
How did you choose your research project?
Regina Seibel: It was a process. I had a general interest in the topic, read up on it and discussed ideas with my colleagues and supervisors. It was important for me to bounce my thoughts with other researchers. I could not have developed my ideas simply sitting at my desk by myself. And, of course, I did put a lot of time and effort into ideas that ended up in the trash bin. It’s part of the process.
Chiara Aina: I had a concrete idea of what I wanted to research. I then found a paper on the topic and thought: "Oh no, this is exactly what I wanted to do". I nearly gave up on the idea, but my supervisors motivated me to critically analyze the paper in question and present it to them. This was very valuable, as my own project idea emerged from this process. It really is a process.
Both of you have received offers as Assistant Professors. How did you decide which one to take?
Chiara Aina: I had a strong preference for Barcelona. They have an excellent infrastructure, I had great conversations with my new colleagues, the fact that Barcelona also has a strong group in behavioral economics. It's a combination of hard factors and gut feeling. Today I know what I need to be able to work well and do good research. I found that in Barcelona. Still, it took me a while to make the decision. I will be joining them in 2024, first I'm going to Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow.
Regina Seibel: It was important to me to have a strong group from my field at the Department and to find a city in which I can see myself living and working for a longer period. For a while I was wavering between an offer from a US and a European University. Both regions have pros and cons. Then the offer from the University of Toronto came and my decision was made: It offers everything I was looking for: A strong group in my field of research, infrastructure, and everything I hoped for in terms of quality of life.
All the best!