All economic consulting firms need undergraduates with strong backgrounds in economics, business writing, big data analysis, and visual analytics. Undergraduates typically use their first job experience to shape their future graduate-level training or pursue other careers in economics, business, public health, and law.
There are five key learning objectives for the senior experience course (ECO 4400 Economic Consulting):
• Foundational Knowledge – Understanding and Remembering: Explain and give examples of the links between data analysis, client strategy, and predictive analytics.
• Application – Performance Skills: Perform basic and advanced regression analyses and economic model simulations; use coding practices that other team members, project managers, and quality assurance reviewers can understand and replicate.
• Application – Practical Thinking: Advise project team members, supervisors, and clients on issues or induce their action using effective oral presentations, business memos, and business reports.
• Learning How to Learn – How to Pursue Self-Directed or Intentional Learning: Develop and use a self-learning plan for Tableau in order to create effective visual analytics for oral presentations and consulting projects.
• Human Dimension – Working as a Member of a Team: Cooperate and resolve conflicts (budgets, schedules, interpersonal) within team-based environments.
To help achieve these objectives, the senior course requires a final experiential-based project where you take what you have learned throughout your program of study and apply it. Instead of an individual-based project, you will work in a small team as if you were working at one of the top global economic consulting firms. The consulting firm your team works for has been hired by a client that wants several open-ended questions answered in very short time frame. Your role is figure out how to answer these questions and communicate your answers using compelling economic stories supported by reasons and evidence.
To do this, your team will create a profession business report that advises the client and induces their action. You will also prepare a final oral presentation that summarizes your story and includes visual analytics. Your team’s data analyses will use coding practices that other team members, project managers, and quality assurance reviewers can understand and replicate. Your team will also complete other common day-to-day activities related to a project. For example, you will keep track billable time and submit a final project invoice, develop content for your resumes, and participate in a post-project performance appraisal where you will provide feedback for each team member and provide it to a hypothetical supervisor. The feedback will include identifying one area where each team member excelled, one area for improvement, and an overall performance ranking.
In summary, your project is designed to help prepare you to face situations that you will encounter as an entry-level economic consultant. In doing so, you will sharpen your skills in business writing, data analysis, coding practices, self-learning, and working as a team.
“Best Capstone in Economic Consulting”
Brooks Depro, Katy Rouse author article on economic consulting capstone project
In an International Review of Economics Education article, the economics professors present a course-embedded undergraduate research project that utilizes the case method and is designed to prepare economics consulting students for their future careers.