College students gain business and applied economics skills in winter session at AIER

“I gained a better understanding of the professionalism that it takes to excel in the business world and the importance of conducting yourself in a professional manner at all times.” – Brett Korn, senior professional accounting major at University of Sioux Falls.

Brett Korn came to AIER in January 2017 as part of our new Winter Program. He is a student at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, which collaborates with AIER to help students gain practical experience in conducting economic research.

Students in university classrooms today are the employees and researchers of the next decade. By investing time to develop partnerships among academic institutions and practitioners, AIER is integrating academia and the workplace, broadening the pool of potential employees, and striving to advance economic research capabilities throughout the country.

The evidence suggests that experiential learning in the workplace is not just the opportunity to apply material learned in the classroom but to complement academic learning by developing life skills and competencies that are highly transferable to any environment. AIER has a longstanding tradition of providing those experiences to students.

AIER’s founder, Col. E. C. Harwood, encouraged the combination of formal instruction with fieldwork on an actual research project. Our Summer Fellowship Program, which was started by Col. Harwood in 1946, was named one of the Top 10 Summer Fellowships of 2015 by ProFellow, an independent, go-to source for information on professional and academic fellowships.

For the Winter Program, students come to AIER campus in January when they have an intersession or a break from classes. During the two-week stay, they are immersed in the practice of economic analysis under the guidance of AIER’s researchers. They learn applied economic research skills as well as soft skills such as working in a team, meeting deadlines, and professional behaviors expected when operating in an office environment.

The uniqueness of the Winter Program is that the incoming students have collaborated previously with AIER during the prior fall semester through an Applied Economic Research course at their university. This course has been integrated with AIER’s research agenda, and our staff provides feedback on students’ course deliverables.

The Applied Economic Research course this year included two academic institutions – the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Both universities’ administrators embraced this opportunity for students to learn economic research tools from experts. During the fall semester, students enrolled in a class at their university that was moderated by both the researchers at AIER (via WebEx) and their professor. Using topics predetermined by AIER, students developed research proposals, designed a research plan, compiled the data, and wrote an academic paper.

This January, 12 undergraduates from the University of Sioux Falls and their professor, Lorri Halverson, came to the AIER campus to continue their immersion into the practice of economic research and analysis. The students split into three groups of four, each working with members of our research staff on a project. The two-week session concluded with group presentations.

At the end of the program, students reported that they are more confident and independent thinkers. Several spoke of their new abilities to guide their own research progress as well as to communicate their results and defend arguments to the supervisors and a broader audience. In addition, students learned to observe nuances of the office protocols and interactions to understand the “rules of the game.”

These reflections support the positive learning outcomes that we set as goals for AIER’s educational programs. To meet the demands of the 21st century, students who are enrolled in our programs become knowledgeable, adaptable people who can work with others to innovate and thrive in the new economy.

For more information about our Winter Program, please contact [email protected] Please put “Winter Program” in the subject line.


Picture: Winter 2017 Program group at AIER.

Front row (L to R): Lorri Halverson, Brooklyn Smith, Natalia Smirnova*, Courtney Kelderman, Max Gulker*;

Second row (L to R): Robert Hughes*, Brett Korn, Morgan Fischer, Rhett Maiorana, Gabe Kasak, Ashlyn Wall, Lindsey Schaap;

Back row (L to R): Ted Cangero*, John Skar*, Max Rysdon, Ben Loosbrock, Joseph Rositano, Caleb Weeldreyer, Alec Potts, Partick Coate*.

*AIER staff