Building a career in development economics – Insights from Gabriela.

by | Apr 14, 2023 | Alumni/careers, Politics, Philosophy and Economics | 0 comments

Gabriela Lecaro – BA Econ and Politics

Gabby is a Research Fellow at Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), Centre for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School. Here, she talks about what she does now and how she got there following her time at Manchester.

My current role and how I got there

I have been working in development economics research for the past four years. I started as an intern at the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Peru officer in early 2017, before I moved to the IPA Dominican Republic office in 2018 as an associate after completing my Master’s.

During my time at IPA, I had the opportunity to work on incredibly interesting impact evaluation studies in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, among others.

I recently started my position at Harvard University in February 2022. In my role, I support the research agendas of academics in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In terms of research areas, I have worked across a wide variety of sectors like financial inclusion, gender equity, social protection, early childhood development, healthcare, COVID-response, governance, labour markets among others.

In truth, I found this career path upon graduating from university and starting to gain experience in the working world. However, both my course ad time at university helped me immensely in taking those first steps at the very onset of my career, because of the transferable skills it gave me/

Additionally, I had a few extracurricular activities and positions at Manchester that helped me build up my profile when it came to interviewing and describing my skillset.

How did your course set you up for your career path?

“I had some interest in the law during my undergraduate degree, but it was through making use of the University careers service, and associated research, during my postgraduate degree that I developed that interest into a conviction. 

I had always appreciated the transferable skills, which the study of Philosophy helped me to develop, and I continue to find them valuable in my career.”

How did your course set you up for your career path?

I would say that it helped me develop two very important attributes: discipline and curiosity.

Regarding the former, the modules at Manchester are mostly semi-structured in a way that requires you to do a lot of independent study to succeed. Developing discipline at an early stage helped me immensely later, in positions where little to no supervision was done and the culture was very results-driven.

Regarding the latter, faculty and teaching staff at provided an encouraging space for students to explore and discuss ideas in a critical way. Challenging old paradigms and finding new angles to existing problems will get you a long way in sectors like development research and policy.

You can image how advantageous it was for my career to have these skills developed beforehand.

My experience at Manchester

My perception of the University of Manchester was that of a welcoming, extremely diverse community, that blended intellectual curiosity and rigour with practical, transferable skills for the labour market.

I met some of my closest friends during my time at Manchester and can name at least one friend from every single country in the world, which says something about how diverse the community at University of Manchester is.

The most surprising and valuable takeaway from my time at Manchester was the friendships I made and the networks I developed. To this day, I remain connected to a lot of them, and it’s very exciting to see people grow and progress in their career and lives, while reminiscing about our times at UoM.

My advice for future students

First, absorb as much as you can – knowledge, experiences, challenges and more. Second, get involved! Take advantage of the wide range of activities that Manchester has to offer. University is the best time to try hobbies you’ve never done and explore topic you’ve been curious about but never dived into.

Finally, don’t be afraid to tap into the University of Manchester community for support. From seniors in your course to faculty and teaching staff, people are more than happy to provide support when needed, so don’t be afraid to rely on them.