For Economics students at the B.A. level
Temporary work experience
Applying for graduate study
Searching for a job and/or considering graduate or related studies is both daunting and extremely important. As with many activities, although there is some random luck the effort you put in will have a major influence on the quality of the outcome. This page contains a few ideas and leads to get you started, but it is far from a complete listing and it is not a set of instructions. I wish you the very best in your endeavours.
1.0 Part- or full-time internships or work-related summer jobs
You should click on the Faculty of Social Sciences Experiential Education (EE). They are really interested in being accessible to Economics students and helping them explore options. Unfortunately visa students are not eligible for all paid internships in Canada (these require permission to work off-campus in Canada – check your visa conditions) but there are services available to all students, such as a course in career development.
In addition to the placements posted on the Experiential Education website, there are many other positions on and off campus that could be considered internships. You can also explore opportunities on my list of key job sites. I would note particularly the FSWEP program of the Public Service Commission of Canada. (Usually starts around mid-October each year.)
2.0 Career positions after graduation
Most students who stop with a B.A. in Economics will not obtain jobs as "economists". (There are very few fields for which there is that kind of direct correspondence.) However a degree in economics does seem to be a bigger help in obtaining employment than many degrees, particularly for those seeking employment relating to the financial industry.
In any case, students pursuing general careers with a B.A. are well served by using the university employment services at McMaster Career Planning and Employment. You might find these key job sites useful. It is important to apply very early for some jobs. For example, the federal government commonly has application deadlines in September and October for jobs starting the following spring, summer and fall.
At some stage in your job search, you may need references. Do not be afraid to ask your economics professors even if you do not know them that well: most will oblige. We understand that it is difficult to find enough professors who know you really well. Other (not very original) advice is to network whenever feasible (many jobs are obtained by such means) and to try to apply as often as possible (which often means learning how to be efficient in applying for jobs, although you should always take the time to make the first few lines of your cover letter target the job application). Remember also that when you do get a job, it is unlikely to be your last one so it is necessary to keep your eyes open for new opportunities. For example, it is my advice that you always should have a reasonably up-to-date c.v. to give to a prospective employer.
3.0 Pursuing a graduate or related degree
One key possibility is an M.A. program in Economics. To get into McMaster's M.A. program, for example, you probably need close to an A- average with strong performance in the senior theory courses 4T03 and 4TT3. McMaster also has a new M.A. stream in Economic Policy which does not require 4T03 and 4TT3, but requires the same good overall grades as well as demonstrated research and writing skills. Other universities may have somewhat lower requirements and a few may have higher requirements. If interested in this option, talk to one of your economics professors.
Many graduate Economics MA programs, including McMaster’s, provide financial aid such as a teaching assistantship and/or scholarship to help reduce the out-of-pocket cost. If your recent grades are A- or better, you should definitely apply for an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Applications are due to Ms. Martens in KTH 426 by mid-October (please check with her in advance for this year’s exact deadline) and late applications will not be accepted. If you are going to apply, start early. There is also a Canada Graduate Scholarship program for Master's students. See the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) website especially the graduate student page. The internal deadline for that one with Ms. Martens in KTH-426 is usually early to mid-November (please check with her for this year’s date), again with absolutely no extensions. Although not for everyone, if you are interested in health economics/policy, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) also offers awards for study at the PhD level. (Click “Find Funding” and other links.)
If you are interested in international study, go to Canadian Bureau for International Education. This includes information on the well known Commonwealth Scholarship for study in other Commonwealth countries. There is also information about scholarships for numerous other countries at that site. Deadlines vary by country but can be as early as the October of the academic year in which you expect to graduate. Note that SSHRC also offers an international option, see the above link to the graduate student page.
Other scholarship opportunities exist, so do not view this page as an exhaustive list. Please do your own research. If you have any successes that you think would be valuable to future students please feel free to let me know so I can post the information on this page.
When you apply for a scholarship, you will need reference letters. Even if you don't know a faculty member very well, he or she will likely help you. You will get better letters if you give the faculty member enough time and if you give the faculty member some information about yourself (ideally a resume and a grade record). If there is a "plan of study" that needs to be part of the scholarship application, ask the faculty member to read it over and give her/him enough time to do it properly. That can make a huge difference in the probability of success