Personal Note: Moving to Toronto

Before discussing a lovely application of High Micro Theory to a long-standing debate in macro in a post coming right behind this one, a personal note: starting this summer, I am joining the Strategy group at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management as an Assistant Professor. I am, of course, very excited about the opportunity, and am glad that Rotman was willing to give me a shot even though I have a fairly unusual set of interests. Some friends asked recently if I have any job market advice, and I told them that I basically just spent five years reading interesting papers, trying to develop a strong toolkit, and using that knowledge base to attack questions I am curious about as precisely as I could, with essentially no concern about how the market might view this. Even if you want to be strategic, though, this type of idiosyncrasy might not be a bad strategy.

Consider the following model: any school evaluates you according to v+e(s), where v is a common signal of your quality and e(s) is a school-specific taste shock. You get an offer if v+e(s) is maximized for some school s; you are maximizing a first-order statistic, essentially. What this means is that increasing v (by being smarter, or harder-working, or in a hotter field) and increasing the variance of e (by, e.g., working on very specific topics even if they are not “hot”, or by developing an unusual set of talents) are equally effective in garnering a job you will be happy with. And, at least in my case, increasing v provides disutility whereas increasing the variance of e can be quite enjoyable! If you do not want to play such a high-variance strategy, though, my friend James Bailey (heading from Temple’s PhD program to work at Creighton) has posted some more sober yet still excellent job market advice. I should also note that writing a research-oriented blog seemed to be weakly beneficial as far as interviews were concerned; in perhaps a third of my interviews, someone mentioned this site, and I didn’t receive any negative feedback. Moving from personal anecdote to the minimal sense of the word data, Jonathan Dingel of Trade Diversion also seems to have had a great deal of success. Given this, I would suggest that there isn’t much need to worry that writing publicly about economics, especially if restricted to technical content, will torpedo a future job search.

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9 thoughts on “Personal Note: Moving to Toronto

  1. Daniel says:

    Excellent place! congratulations!

  2. Luis Enrique says:

    “Given this, I would suggest that there isn’t much need to worry that writing publicly about economics, especially if restricted to technical content, will torpedo a future job search.”

    well, it depends how good you are at it. When I told profs in my department that you were on the job market, they were amazed and said your blog read like you’d been an economist for years. I don’t think most of us job market candidates would be able to create such a positive impression with a research focussed blog, I think you are an outlier.

    (If I wrote one it would mainly be full of “I don’t understand this”)

  3. kerimcan81 says:

    Congratulations! And let me say again that I love your blog. The depth and clarity of your thinking is admirable.

  4. Ariel Katz says:

    Congratulations and welcome to Toronto!

  5. enrique says:

    Reblogged this on prior probability and commented:
    We are reposting this entry from our friends at A Fine Theorem for its idiosyncratic advice for us academics. We could not agree more …

  6. Congratulations! Couldnt be happier for you. Well deserved.

  7. Nageeb says:

    Congratulations, Kevin: that’s a terrific group of researchers to join, and a great job. I enjoy reading your blog, and was happy to have met you this past Fall. I hope you’ll find time to continue blogging during the years ahead. 🙂

  8. Gautam Rao says:

    Congratulations, and thanks for the excellent blog! Say hello to my friend Mitch Hoffman at Rotman when you are there.

  9. Sydney says:

    Hope it’s working out for you and your family

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