Jennifer Baird

Current Role: Manager, Policy Analysis and Legislative Research
Graduate Year: 2006

What made you decide to earn your degree at American University as opposed to another institution?
While in my undergraduate program at American university, I decided to major in economics. I had such a great experience in my undergraduate economics classes, that I decided to continue for the combined 5-yr. B.S./M.A. program.

In your opinion, what do you think is your program’s biggest strength? Please explain why.
I think the program's biggest strength is the high caliber of professors. I had some amazing professors who challenged me and encouraged me to work hard in my courses. The small class sizes and individual attention enabled me to succeed to my fullest potential.

How was the coursework and curriculum relevant to your field today? How did the faculty keep the curriculum current?
Although my current role is in Corporate, Government Affairs, I still use some basic economic principles in my day-to-day activities. For example, I do a lot of tax policy and revenue analysis, where I have to use the concept of “elasticity” to forecast volume declines.

More importantly, my courses taught me how to think critically and ask questions. By doing so, it has enabled me to drive innovative thought into my role.

Is there a class, project or assignment that was particularly memorable? Why?
My Senior Thesis class was an invaluable class. In that class, I learned how to provide quantitative data to answer a real-world question. Through that experience, I learned that I like applying economics to real world situations. I learned that I was not as into theoretical economics. This discovery helped me decide what types of jobs to pursue upon graduation.

Briefly describe in what ways the program exceeded your expectations.
The program exceeded my expectations in a number of different ways. First, the professors are top-notch. I don't recall ever having a bad professor, which is pretty remarkable, I think (especially for an economics program). Second, my classmates were very supportive. We all worked together and helped each other learn. It wasn't a cut-throat school environment, like some other graduate programs. And finally, the program opened doors for me. The AU Graduate program has a great reputation – especially in DC – and employers know that. Employers were frequently impressed with my AU education.

What skills did you learn in the program? What were the major takeaways?
The most significant skill I learned in the AU Economics program was critical/analytical thinking. This is an invaluable skill that I use every day, both at work and just in my life in general.

How has earning your degree impacted your career?
The Graduate Program at American University opened many doors for me – both in terms of internships and full-time jobs. My first full-time job after graduating was at the Federal Trade Commission. Most of my fellow hires were from top schools and I was intimidated at first. However, I quickly realized that I could work effectively with them – because AU prepared me for it. That experience helped me build confidence. Since then, I've moved on to a different job (that I’ve been at for 6 years now). In my current role, although I don't do hard core quantitative economic research, I still utilize the key learnings from my graduate degree program. I wouldn't be where I am today without earning my degree.

To learn more about American University’s online MA in Economics, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.