Meet Carolina: a PhD Student in International Economics at Brandeis University in the USA

Meet Carolina: a PhD Student in International Economics at Brandeis University in the USA

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Carolina Pan is an Argentine student, currently in the last year of her PhD program in International Economics at Brandeis University, USA. We chose her as the winner of our Conference Grant Contest 2015 and awarded her with a €500 grant. The prize helped her to attend the 3rd Geography of Innovation Conference organized by the University of Toulouse and Sciences-Po Toulouse in France. Participants from over 50 countries took part in the contest by submitting short explanations about their personal reasons for going to their chosen event. You can see her winning answer here.

We asked Carolina about her impressions from the conference and her PhD study experience. She was also happy to share a couple of photos from the event (see below).

Conference Impressions

Why did you choose this conference?

I chose the 3rd Geography of Innovation Conference because it was a great platform to present my paper about International Trade and Innovation and meet the most relevant people in the field. I was not wrong! I watched fabulous presentations, had conversations with many scholars and received great feedback after presenting my paper.

How did you spend the time in France and what was your overall impression from the conference?

The conference location was a big plus: Toulouse is such a beautiful city. It is small and has great public transportation which makes it very easy to get around. The conference also had social events (like a 'meet and greet' and a gala dinner) held at different venues, so I also got to spend some time with the other presenters strolling around the city. It was a lot of fun!

How was this conference useful for your career?

This was my very first international conference. So far I had only been able to present my work at my University, which made this conference a great opportunity to get more varied feedback and talk to scholars doing similar research. I believe conferences are very useful; you can only benefit from exposure and feedback. 

What is the importance of networking for you and what do you do to extend your network? 

I believe networking is fundamental in any profession. There is this idea that academia is all about doing research by yourself and you don’t need networking, but I strongly disagree. I have learned a lot by interacting with other scholars, both by listening to their fresh ideas and also their thoughts about mine. For this reason, I try to extend my network as much as I can. Conferences are a great way of doing it, provided you keep in touch with the people you meet! I added a few on LinkedIn and also chat via email.

Which channels and tools do you use for gaining reputation in the academic world? 

Once I have a good paper draft, I send it to my advisors and close friends in the field. After incorporating comments and suggestions, I use that draft to apply to conferences. I regularly check the INOMICS website as several conferences are being added every day! If I get into one, I present it and get as much feedback as possible. Once I incorporated all comments, I upload it somewhere (SSRNIdeas Repec, own website) and send it to as many people as I can (pretty much anyone I know in the field, including people I meet at a conference). I believe this is a good system for getting out the best version of your work and gaining reputation in the academic world.

PhD Study Experience

Why did you decide to do your PhD?

While doing my Master’s in Economics I worked part-time as a research assistant for two very well-known researchers. I loved the job even though I wasn’t even doing the best part: choosing the research topic. But being able to get to the bottom of things was very eye-opening. I realised I needed to get a PhD to conduct my own research and hopefully make a career out of that. It takes a long time, with lots of hard work and the lowest pay in the market, but now that I am reaching the end of the journey I couldn’t be happier.

What specialization did you choose and why?

I chose to specialise in Economic Development and International Trade, and right now I am studying the impact of Technological Innovation on them. I was always attracted to studying differences across countries, and what the developing world can do to catch-up. I believe this choice has to do with my upbringing: being Argentinean I always wondered why some countries were more developed than others (and how I could fix mine!).

Carolina is doing her PhD at Brandeis University

Credit: Leo Felici

How do you see your future academic career? Which positions are you aiming at and where would you like to work?

I would love to have an academic career. I realise it is hard to get a good academic job (i.e. at a well ranked University) because the spots are very limited and the competition is tough. However, I would very gladly work at any place that allows me to do some research (think tank, bank, NGO, etc).

How does our platform help you in developing your career?

INOMICS has been very useful to me! I mainly use it to find conferences and fellowships, and I find it is the most complete source out there. I also know that I will be using it to find job postings at the end of this year when I go to the job market!

Which tips would you give to other PhD students and PhD candidates?

Just go out and present your work! Working on your own all the time can be tiring and frustrating. It is very refreshing to discuss your work with others, and you can only benefit from interaction. Take advantage of the hundreds of conferences being held everywhere in the world and show what you’ve got!

We at INOMICS are happy that we could help make Carolina’s conference trip possible and wish her a lot of success in pursuing her academic career.

➲ Were you inspired by Carolina's story? We encourage you to check INOMICS regularly so you will not miss out on any interesting conferences and study programs in your discipline.

➲ Do you need support to attend a conference in your field? The next Conference Grant Contest 2016 is coming soon! Subscribe to our Email Alert here and stay updated!

➲ Would you also like to share your experience in academia with other students or researchers? Write to us at We will be happy to hear your story!

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