Name: Grant Brandenburg '21

Title: Financial Economist Intern 

Employer: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Major(s): Economics and Finance




What was a typical week like in your internship position?

My typical week at the Commission included three days a week on site. I would enter the office on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings but was fortunate to be able to switch my schedule around if there were academic conflicts. Following morning briefs with task-related updates or relevant news events, my main daily task entailed synthesizing economics and finance literature focused on psychology-based models of asset prices and trade volume. Apart from providing updates on this material to the Commission’s internal database, another intern and I conducted an independent research project where we analyzed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) statistics pertaining to retail and institutional investment inquiries. Concluding the week, my internship cohort would provide updates on our research progress and highlight any areas of concern moving forward.

What did you enjoy most about the position?

Entering into my internship, I had not previously been exposed to a professional environment that was as research-focused as the Commission. From the beginning, my supervisor was eager to foster an environment conducive to educational advancement. This culminated U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION into a final deliverable that a fellow intern and I presented to the Investor Advocate, Rick Fleming, and were then able to publish internally on an agency-wide platform as professional content.

How did your coursework help you in your internship?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has a three-part mission: protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation. In order to aid in this mission, interns must understand the current state of the regulatory space and financial markets. Through courses in the Department of Economics like Money and Banking (ECON330) and U.S. Economic History (ECON311 and ECON312), I have learned about the development of these regulatory and financial frameworks. Additionally, quantitative courses like Economics of Cost-Benefit Analysis (ECON426) and Applied Econometrics (ECON424) have been critical in enabling me to interpret the implications of agency rulings on policy.

How did you locate your internship position?

With a personal curiosity for financial products, the Commission has always allured me. That being said, I had not thought about the idea of interning at the agency until I came in contact with a previous intern. Through conversation, I was able to discuss their experience at the site and gauge whether this aligned with my own interests


Any internship advice for students (e.g. aspects to consider before accepting an internship, search tips, how to make the most of your internship, etc.) ?

One point of emphasis I would pass along to current students is to keep a positive mindset when approaching applications and professional opportunities – small failures when paired with learning are more likely to make an individual succeed. Another piece of advice I would give prospective interns is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. As with my experience, I was expected to utilize a variety of software packages of which I had no prior knowledge. Although uncomfortable at first, by asking my supervisor and cohort questions I soon gained confidence. I understand you now intern at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in their South and Southeast Asia Office.

What interested you in the U.S. Department of the Treasury internship program?

Towards the conclusion of my internship at the Commission, I began to entertain the idea of interning at another regulatory participant. Having already gained exposure to financial economics and all this discipline entails in practice, I desired a similar experience but with international economics. After reviewing applications posted by a variety of regulatory actors, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (specifically the South and Southeast Asia Office) most closely aligned with my enthusiasm to study this particular region.

What's a typical day like in that internship? 

My internship at the Treasury is structured similar to the Commission’s program. My week consists of three days on site at the headquarters location (Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday). Once I get into the office my day begins with updates on regional macroeconomic activity and investment initiatives specific to Asian countries. My daily responsibilities consist of updating country charts containing key financial indicators/metrics from sources like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. As the week concludes, I am responsible for helping draft weekly articles for briefers and senior economists to use in policy decisions and speeches.

Anything else you want to share with students about your experience?

Internships are an incredible way to learn about yourself and your goals for the future. Take any opportunity you can because it will allow you to figure out what you want to do post-grad. Your idea of a dream job could be completely different based on a positive or negative internship experience so it is wise to explore all of your available options!