1. Where did you do your internship and what was your role?
Last summer, I did a 5-month internship as a research assistant at the OECD. I joined the Environment Directorate in order to contribute to an empirical study evaluating the effect of an environmental policy parameters on the amount of CO2 included in imports. The goal of this study was to test whether countries with more stringent environmental policies—often developed countries—were more likely to relocate their production and, thus, their pollution to developing countries.
I had several roles in this project. First, I created variables likely to capture the degree of stringency of environmental policies at the country level. These variables were the key explanatory variables of our econometric analysis. I used SQL Server, a database management system, to construct a dataset with these variables. Then, I participated in the econometric analysis: we had to choose the adequate estimation method as well as the most relevant econometric specifications. This part was really exciting as we had to carefully consider the different endogeneity issues we were likely to face. Finally, I had the chance to draft the final paper, which will be published as an OECD Working Paper soon.
2. How did your studies at TSE help you during the internship?
What I had learned during the Master 1 at TSE was really helpful during my internship. Indeed, when I was working on the empirical analysis, I extensively used the different econometric techniques I acquired during the Master 1. In particular, I felt really comfortable discussing potential endogeneity issues with the members of the team I was working with. Moreover, even though I had never studied the econometric method we finally used, I easily understood it thanks to the strong technical basis the Master 1 allows us to build.
The broad theoretical understanding we acquire at TSE was also really useful. The study built upon different theoretical insights that I had to go through when drafting the paper. Again, most of the models I had never studied in class, but I felt that what I learned at TSE prepared me well to understand them easily.
Finally, learning to use different statistical software during the Master 1 was particularly helpful since I implemented most of my tasks thanks to different statistical software. For example, I had never used SQL Server but learning a new programming language is way easier when you have already used other programming software, like we do at TSE.
3. How did you get the internship? What would be your advice for students looking for a similar internship?
I was very lucky since the team directly contacted me after I applied to the online application platform, on the OECD website. I had one phone interview with the Senior Economist and the Statistician I was going to work with. They asked me several questions about the project of the course “Applied Econometrics” that I mentioned in my application. I would advise students looking for an internship to emphasize that they have done such a project, because it shows that we are able to actually apply what we learn in class. My applied project had nothing to do with environmental economics, but I remember that they asked me technical questions regarding the econometric method I used in the project. Moreover, in my case, the team wanted an intern who was familiar with SQL Server: I had to convince them that I could easily learn how to use it since we already use different software at TSE. So I would recommend not limiting yourself to internships that ask only for skills you are sure you have!
Also, in order to get an internship in an international organization like the OECD, I would advise to directly contact people you would like to work with. Indeed, all the other interns I met at the OECD had not been selected through the regular online application process, but by getting in touch directly with their advisor.