Nov. 19, 2021
Placements at the Competition Bureau and the Market Surveillance Administrator, SIRE program, highlight opportunities for students in Department's IO stream
The Department of Economics is pleased to recognize placements at competition policy enforcement agencies by three of its 2021 graduating class. Megan Williams and Morgan Zuk have started as Merger Officers in the Mergers Directorate at the Competition Bureau. Their job involves assessing the competitive implications of mergers, in particular assessing the implications of proposed transactions on efficiencies and market power. Jessica Liu starts as an economist at the Market Surveillance Administrator ("MSA") in January 2022. The MSA monitors, promotes, and protects competition in the provision of electricity and natural gas in Alberta.
All three point to their experience in the industrial organization course sequence for being able to compete successfully for positions that are typically assigned to students with Master's degrees. They note that the course content in Econ 471 and Econ 571 is "directly related" to the activities of the two enforcement agencies on a daily basis: their experience in the industrial organization courses provided them with the knowledge and skills to assess market power and the effect of conduct and market rules on market power. As well, they identified that both Econ 471 and 571 involved demonstrating not only the ability to perform relevant economic analysis, but also considerable coaching on how to communicate their results. Their term papers in these classes were important in demonstrating the ability to perform and communicate substantive and persuasive economic analysis. Indeed, their job interviews turned into discussions regarding their term papers.
The following qualifications for the MSA position merit internalization by students when selecting their courses:
- Demonstrated experience applying concepts from economic theory and industrial organization literature, principles, and techniques.
- Demonstrated ability to define problems, establish hypotheses, analyse complex data to test hypotheses, evaluate results, and draw conclusions.
- Demonstrated experience with statistical and/or data management software. Experience with SQL, R, or Linux would be an asset.
- Strong written and oral communications skills, including the ability to effectively present information to colleagues, management, industry professionals, and public groups, including writing reports and making presentations.
- Ability to work effectively on teams and under inflexible time constraints.
The experience this year with placing students at competition enforcement agencies matches the success of the SIRE program.
Summer Internship in Regulatory Economics
The goal of Summer Internship in Regulatory Economics (SIRE) is to match well qualified, capable, and interested economics students with appropriate firms and organizations that can provide relevant experience and where students can make meaningful contributions. The SIRE program effectively solves the adverse selection problem of a major in economics. It provides majors with a credible means to signal that they can, and will, make significant contributions as employees. Indeed, students are often hired full time at their placement or find full time employment based on the network of their industry mentors. SIRE launches students into impactful jobs as professional economists immediately upon graduation, enabling access to jobs that are advertised for candidates with 3 to 5 years of experience, jumpstarting careers! In fact, SIRE graduates successfully compete with graduates of MA programs in Economics.
The Department of Economics Summer Internship in Regulatory Economics (SIRE) has placed students in summer positions since 2000. Students have been placed at a large number of different organizations and firms. See below for placements in the last five years. Firms and organizations that have indicated an interest in sponsoring a SIRE student in 2021 include the Market Surveillance Administrator (Electricity in Alberta), ENMAX, TC Energy, and Enbridge Pipelines.
Placements are typically full time for four months (May through August), though duties, remuneration, and length of placement are all negotiable. The Department of Economics’ role is to make the process a little more efficient by making the preliminary contacts with companies and organizations where the students can make a contribution.
For students to be eligible for the Summer Internship, they must have completed the senior courses in Industrial Organization (Econ 471) and Regulatory Economics (Econ 477), three years of studies, and have a grade point average of at least 3.0 over their last 15 courses and in the required course sequence in industrial organization. Recommended courses include a course in Excel (Econ 311), econometrics (Econ 495), the economics of finance and accounting (Econ 457), and the economics of competition policy (Econ 571). Many students have also completed courses in the economics of oil and gas, as well as electricity economics.
Course Selection and SIRE
The students in this program develop considerable expertise in regulatory economics and industrial organization, especially those that have completed all three of the industrial organization course sequence (Econ 471, 477, and 571). Moreover, students have the opportunity to gain experience and expertise in performing and writing economic analysis. Econ 477 and 571 both have extensive writing requirements with detailed feedback and instruction. SIRE students know how to formulate the appropriate analytical framework to address issues in industrial organization, perform the requisite economic analysis to identify the relevant determining facts, engage in verification of the relevant facts and quantify relevant magnitudes, and, last but not least, clearly communicate their findings and conclusions.
Placement number and sponsor for the last five years are listed below:
- 2021: Five students: Chymko Consulting, MSA, Pembina Pipeline Corporation, Trans Mountain Pipeline, TC Energy.
- 2020: Eight students: Six were at the Canada Energy Regulator: the other two were at Chymko Consulting and Church Economic Consulting. Unfortunately, there were a number of other placements that were cancelled because of the pandemic (e.g., TC Energy, TransAlta, ENMAX, and Heartland Generation)
- 2019: Seven students: ATCO Electricity Generation, the Market Surveillance Administrator, Chymko Consulting, Enbridge Pipelines Inc., and Capital Power.
- 2018: Five students: AESO, Analysis Group, the AUC, the UCA, and TransCanada Pipelines.
- 2017: Eight students: AESO, Brookfield Infrastructure, Enbridge Pipelines, Market Surveillance Administrator, National Energy Board, TransCanada Pipelines, UCA.
There is an annual call for applications. The annual call is in January for the upcoming summer. Please visit the Department of Economics website and the call is sent to all students enrolled in Econ 477 and 571. The call for applications for 2020 is posted there and provides information on the process for 2021. Some placements also require that students simultaneously apply directly. As placements are confirmed, information on applying directly will be circulated.