Students Hone Data Skills at Bureau of Economic Research

The BER exposes students to real-world data analysis and business analytics

Started approximately 20 years ago by Dr. Ann Davis, the Marist Bureau of Economic Research (BER) has become a huge asset to the Marist College campus.

The role of the BER is to provide an economic analysis of the Hudson Valley and to a limited extent, New York State. This is done through economic impact studies, geographical information system (GIS) analyses of demographics and business location, forecasting, and policy analysis.

The BER’s most recent work was an economic report of the Hudson Valley. According to the Marist website, the publication is a comprehensive compendium of economic and demographic indicators regarding the Hudson Valley of New York State. The report covers all of the counties between Albany and New York City, on both sides of the Hudson River. Indicators of the regional economy are tracked on a consistent basis and special reports are conducted regarding aspects of the regional and national economy.

While economic research centers have become more common on college and university campuses, Marist’s BER has some unique qualities. Its most significant aspect is that all of the researchers are Marist students who report to Dr. Christy Caridi, Professor of Economics at Marist and Director of the BER.

By working at the BER, students gain valuable experience in collecting, vetting, and presenting data. While many assume that the BER is only for economics majors, it is in fact, open to any student. The key is someone who has an analytical mind and is very detail oriented. The two students who currently work with the BER are both math majors. 

One of the two students is Krissy Lawler ’17, an Applied Mathematics major. She became involved in BER after taking Intermediate Macroeconomics with Dr. Caridi. In her role as a research assistant, Lawler’s work essentially consists of pulling down economic data that pertain to the report in question and analyzing it by use of Microsoft Excel under the direction of Dr. Caridi.

As a result of taking over the role of director from founder Dr. Ann Davis nearly 10 years ago, Dr. Caridi maintains oversight of the student researchers as well as the creation of research reports. “The director is the public face of research reports,” she explained. She is the lead author of all economic reports the BER generates and also serves the community through appointment to numerous non-profit boards. 

The work Dr. Caridi does with her students has made an impact. “Before working at the BER, I thought I really knew Microsoft Excel; however, this job has taught me its true capabilities which are much more vast and in-depth than I realized,” Lawler said. “Also, working at the BER has helped me to become more analytical and detail oriented as a result of the various reports we have written.”

When it comes to getting an edge in the workforce, Lawler believes that her work with the BER makes her stand out among the competition based on the skills she has been able to obtain. “I absolutely 100% feel that this position and the skills I have gained from it gives me the upper hand,” she said. “Even disregarding what I have learned through analyzing economic data, the familiarity and experience I now have with Microsoft Excel is something that is invaluable in today’s job market.”

She believes that computer and technological skills are always viewed as a huge plus and that Microsoft Excel, in particular, is something that is so prevalently used in modern corporate America. Any experience with it helps you to stand out as an applicant, she says.

What Lawler is most happy about in regards to her work at the BER is being able to work alongside Dr. Caridi. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work for her,” she said. “As a research assistant, I am constantly learning about economic behavior and continuously gaining skills that are useful now and will behoove me greatly later on in life. I can honestly say that I love the job and truly enjoy every moment that I am working.” 

 

Written by Adriana Belmonte '17

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