Name: Cesar Acevedo Jr. '15

Title: Workforce Analyst 

Employer: the U.S. Department of Labor - Employment and Training (ETA)

Major: Economics 

Current Graduate Program: Master of Science in Applied Economics 

University: University of Maryland


What is your current job?

I am a workforce analyst in the Office of Policy Development and Research within ETA.  I specialize in workforce system performance and workforce data analysis.  My office is charged with implementing the statutory performance accountability requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  My tasks range from establishing/maintaining a national statistical adjustment model that we use to estimate state performance and adjust targets to drafting sub-regulatory guidance in support of WIOA.  In between, there are a lot of simpler analyses to support policy/decision making, provide technical assistance to state grantees, and ensure data integrity.

What is a typical day like in your position?

There is a cyclical aspect to my work, so it really depends on the time of year.  Typically, there is at least one meeting on my calendar for the day, rarely more than three, where I meet with colleagues from other offices in ETA to consult on performance policy or discuss an ongoing project.  Time at my desk is usually spent working on an immediate data request, technical assistance product, or longer term analysis project.  I use Stata a lot but am forcing myself to use R more and more.  I do my best to answer emails only at the beginning of the day and again at the end of the day so I can focus on my ongoing projects.  At this point in my MASTER OF SCIENCE IN APPLIED ECONOMICS career I do a lot of independent work, so time management is key.  Balancing various tasks over time and being able to manage competing priorities is just as important as the ability to produce advanced analysis products.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

There were a few factors pushing me towards graduate school.  First, I reached a point where the majority of the people I interacted with at work had graduate degrees.  I was working at a high level for my experience, and I felt a graduate degree would give me more credibility among my peers.  The second factor was career advancement.  I reached the point in my career where advancing would require a new level of responsibility beyond working independently or contributing more.  Advancing to the next level would require being a leader with expertise and experience.  And finally, timing pushed me toward graduate school.  I knew that it was now or never for a graduate degree. It had been just over 3 years since earning my bachelor’s degree in Economics from UMD.  I felt that if I waited any longer the thought of being a student again would be enough to keep me from going back to school.  Of course now that I am a student again I don’t know what I was so worried about.

Why did you choose this type of program?

For a brief period I considered pursuing an MBA or MPA, but I ultimately decided to lean into my quantitative skills and build on my undergraduate work that had served me so well.  Aside from the obvious bias I had toward being a Terp again, the Applied Economics program satisfied a number of my requirements. The program is affordable compared to similar programs, courses are in-person and conveniently located in DC, and the coursework is rigorous and taught by practicing professionals.

How has your undergraduate coursework helped you in your current graduate program (i.e. quantitative skills, research techniques, communication skills)?

Undergraduate economics coursework at UMD prepared me well for the Applied Economics graduate program, specifically Econometrics I (ECON422) and Computer Methods in Economics (ECON424)*.  I relied on what I learned in those two courses the most, especially for the empirical analysis courses in the graduate program.

What do you enjoy most about graduate school?

I enjoy being able to relate what I’m currently learning in class to specific objectives at work.  It can be a moment of clarity while listening to a lecture on a regression technique that you think you can apply at work or simply a new Stata command that will make life simpler.  You can only get that feeling from a graduate program with an emphasis on the application of the coursework.  Special thanks to Dr. Burk, Dr. Monarrez, and Dr. Tello-Trillo, whose courses provided numerous such occurrences.

Any graduate school or job advice for students interested in your field?

My only graduate school advice is if you think you might someday consider graduate school, just do it now.  There’s no reason to wait.  Working full-time as a full-time graduate student is hard, but not impossible and it will only get harder the longer you wait. As for job advice, I say take as many internships as you can.  Use those internships to shape your own opinions on the type of place you want to work for after graduation.  Also, seriously consider a career in public service.  It is not glamorous and you won’t get rich, but the work is challenging and rewarding.  In public service you will find dedicated passionate professionals that will inspire you and a comfortable work-life balance.  The civilian federal workforce needs the best and the brightest from UMD!

Anything else you want to share with undergraduates?