RA Recruiting Frequently Asked Questions

Research assistants provide computational and research-related support to the economists of the Boston Fed. Duties may include working on longer-term research projects intended for publication in academic journals, assisting in analyzing current policy issues, or generating the reports and analysis to be included in Fed publications and in Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) materials.

What qualifications are you looking for in a Research Assistant?

We are seeking candidates with an undergraduate degree with a concentration or extensive coursework in economics, computer science, mathematics, statistics or related field.  Candidates must possess an excellent academic record and strong written and oral communication skills.  While RAs are not “computer programmers,” the nature of Fed projects requires them to write code that will perform advanced computations and automate certain processes. In your application, you should highlight any experience you have had with computers and IT systems. Some of the most popular statistical packages and languages used at the Fed are Matlab, Stata, and SAS or “R”.

Additionally, candidates should demonstrate a strong foundation in mathematics and statistics. Coursework in linear algebra, calculus, and statistics will prove highly useful. Training in economics through the intermediate-theory level will also be advantageous. Since each of our economists specializes in a specific area of economics, such as equity markets or regional studies, each RA in turn has the opportunity to focus on a distinct area of finance and economics. In your application, please indicate any preferences that you may have. Please see a description of our economists for more information on their areas of study.

What opportunities will I have to develop skills for my career?

In addition to developing expertise in a number of widely-used statistical packages such as SAS, Matlab, and Stata, you will have the opportunity to assist top economists in cutting-edge research. In their time at the Boston Fed, most RAs report developing a new comfort with quantitative modeling, applied economic theory, and higher-order mathematical concepts. Most RAs become specialized in a particular area of finance or economics, such as fixed-income instruments or risk management, and are able to apply their experience in subsequent positions or in graduate study. Those RAs who continue on to graduate school report that their time with the Boston Fed strengthened their applications and helped solidify their decision to pursue graduate work.

In addition, the Bank's tuition reimbursement plan allows employees the opportunity to pursue a degree part-time or take classes to explore other job opportunities in the Bank. In the Research Department, there are frequent seminars and luncheons with economists, econometricians, and other social scientists from the academic, government, and private communities on the latest research.

What benefits do you offer to Research Assistants?

Some of the benefits that the Bank offers incoming RAs are flexible work schedules, tuition reimbursement, health and dental insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, thrift plan, on-site fitness center and squash courts, and a subsidized cafeteria. More details can be found on the Human Resources benefits page.

How long is the Research Assistant position?

The Research Assistant position is typically a two-year position. Most RAs find that two years is sufficient to learn the economic, modeling, computational and research skills associated with the job. However, RAs who remain for a third year find that they are given more opportunities to conduct independent research and present findings at seminars, conferences, and briefings. They also gain greater exposure to Bank initiatives and projects.

What do Research Assistants do after they leave the Fed?

The majority of RAs leave the Boston Fed to pursue graduate study. Although the largest number return to school to seek PhDs in economics, recent RAs have proceeded on to top law schools, business schools, and public policy or other graduate programs.

In addition, many RA’s are able to continue their careers in the public and private sectors. Positions are constantly available in other departments of the Boston Fed, as well as at other Reserve Banks or at the Board of Governors. Within the private sector, many RAs place into the financial sector, at investment or commercial banks or financial research firms. Recent RAs have also gone on to positions as diverse as economic consulting firms, the USAID, the Foreign Service, and education non-profits.

Are you looking to hire interns?

During the fall and spring semesters we hire interns as needed to assist economists on special projects. Semester internships are for course credit only.

Does the Bank have a summer internship program?

Yes. The Bank’s summer internship program is open to high school students who have completed their sophomore year of college by the start of the internship.  The program emphasizes advanced assignments with opportunities for students to enhance their business skills, critical financial analysis, and research and writing assignments, making it ideal for graduates interested in applying for the Research Assistant Program in the future.  Learn more about the Bank’s summer internship program.

Where can I find more information on visiting Boston?

The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau (http://www.bostonusa.com) has information on hotels, transportation, attractions, museums, shopping, and nightlife.

Boston.com (http://www.boston.com) has reviews of the top restaurants, theaters, movies, and other activities during your stay.

How do I get to the Bank?

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is located at 600 Atlantic Ave, overlooking Fort Point Channel in downtown Boston. We are directly across the street from South Station on the Red and Silver Lines. Directions are available on our web site.

Is there any relocation assistance if I move from elsewhere?

There is no relocation allowance for RAs. However, current Research staff can provide information about Boston neighborhoods and housing.  If you are interested in learning about Boston neighborhoods, please contact us at Bos.RA.Recuriting@bos.frb.org.

What should I include for the writing sample?

The writing sample should be an analytical piece and approximately 5-10 pages in length. Examples may be an excerpt from a thesis or paper from an economics or political science course.

Do I need to send an official transcript?

Initially, an unofficial transcript is fine, although we may ask for an official transcript at some point in the recruiting process. If your transcript is in a language other than English, an unofficial translation is fine, although we may ask for an official translation later.

Whom can I contact for more information?

If you would like to know more about the responsibilities and benefits of working as a research assistant, you may email us at  Bos.RA.Recruiting@bos.frb.org.