In 2015, I was intrigued by a Bloomberg profile about George Hotz’s self-driving car plans and his interesting “interaction” with Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The more I read about artificial intelligence (AI), the more I become aware how much technique development in machine learning is beyond my imagination. I realized that I need to further my education in order to be prepared for this AI revolution in science.
I have been on a journey of economics for 17 years, studying from undergraduate to PhD level, and then conducting research and teaching in college. The study and work experience in economics gave me a solid background in economic-related mathematics and computer programming. But even beyond this, I have the capability to tell a reasonable story using a tremendous amount of data.
The undergraduate program I attended at XXXX University is one of the National Key Disciplines which only three top universities are recognized as important and are receiving support from the central government of China. It was the first undergraduate program in China at that time requiring students to read original English version textbooks in economics and take core examinations in English. This requirement caused the failure of up to 80% of students at first, because of the language barrier. However, I kept myself in the top five out of 79 in our department. The score was absolute, not by distribution, and even a C could mean a high ranking in the class.
I also learned that original works always convey ideas more accurately than translated ones. They provided me with a fundamental understanding of economic issues and increased my enthusiasm and curiosity for the exciting explorations of economics. I opted to write research papers to gain credit for some courses, which I considered to be more interesting and challenging than simply earning high marks in the final exams. Meanwhile, I achieved the highest scores in Statistics (91/100) and Probability Theory & Mathematical Statistics (91/100) in the department. These eventually comprised my Bachelor’s thesis on the capital adequacy management of banking in China, which received the highest score (88/100) out of 304 graduates in the entire business school.
Without a shadow of a doubt, I will continue my graduate studies after meeting such success in my studies thus far. Initially, Europe interested me because of its multi-cultural environment and my interest in EU economy. University of XXXX (Denmark) provided me with new perspectives and much more rigorous and systematic training in economics at the graduate level. I got 48 credits in the first year, which was no easy feat since all the courses were advanced and many students prefer to take the exams after auditing the lectures once or twice. Additionally, I faced the Danish language barrier in lectures and exams. Living in foreign countries, speaking languages that I couldn’t understand, presented thousands of problems to face alone. However, the study experience in a different culture broadened my mind. Professors will always discuss how the economics theory could apply to the Danish economy, for example, whether Denmark should participate in the European Union’s Banking Union, which help me understand how economy is rooted in culture.
Later, I gained a highly coveted opportunity to exchange to the University of XXXX from Denmark. This exchange study experience, as well as a half year as a research assistant in the US National Center for Smart Growth, lit the study path ahead of me and prompted me to study economics at the PhD level in the US, where there are leading innovations in economics education and research.
I enrolled in the economics PhD program at XXXX with a XXXX fellowship, which is the highest fellowship that only eight new students are awarded after competing among all departments in the entire graduate center each year. In the first two years, mathematical economics training is crucial in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics studies. It ranges from the fundamental methods in theory, such as partial/general market equilibrium analysis, linear models and matrix algebra, optimization problems with constraints, dynamic analysis, higher-order difference equations, simultaneous differential equations, etc. to advanced applied econometrics methods, such as structural change, nonlinear regression, generalized regression model, heteroscedasticity, serial correlation, maximum likelihood estimation, generalized method of moments, models with lagged variables, time-series models, etc. The only C+ grade I received in Econometrics in the first year of the PhD program was due to a serious car accident of the semester which rendered me unable to sit in class with an injured cervical and lumbar spine. I didn’t want to lose time, so I studied from, but was unable to keep up with the professor’s specific requirements on exams. I earned a C-, but she considered my medical situation and gave me a chance to redeem myself by passing the difficult econometrics general qualifying exam. I passed with a B+, so she adjusted my grade and I was very grateful.
Since the second year, I worked as an instructor providing a short mathematics refresher course to the new PhD students and Stata or R programming course to the advanced econometric course PhD students in the department. Later, I started to teach undergraduate courses at XXXX College as an adjunct professor independently. Meanwhile, I started writing and presenting my empirical research papers in numerous international conferences.When I finished my dissertation, I was already employed as a full-time assistant professor in XXXX. I received the teaching evaluation as high as around 4.7/5.0 from the students there. However, I have to return to the US for family reasons. Last year, I completed my PhD degree successfully, as well as gave birth to my first child. A new chapter in my life is beginning, and I consider it to be the right time for developing broad data science skills after working to expand my career prospect in the next two decades.