What’s It Like To Be- March 2017

An Economist

Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

My name is Tibor Besedes and I am associate professor of economics at Georgia Institute of Technology. I was born in Croatia and came to the U.S. in 1995 to attend college. I obtained my undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University in 1998 and my master’s and PhD degrees from Rutgers University in 2000 and 2003. Prior to Atlanta, GA, I have lived in Baton Rouge, LA.; New Brunswick, N.J.; Fort Worth, Tex.; Budapest, Hungary and Zagreb Croatia.

Please tell our readers a little bit about what an economist does (or what your specific job in that field entails).

To work as a college professor of economics, you need to complete a PhD degree in economics. As a professor of economics, I perform two roles. One entails teaching economics classes to students at Georgia Tech, while the other revolves around conducting research on economic questions. As an educator, my role is to teach my students basic tools of economics so that they can apply them themselves in either their studies or their lives. As a researcher, my job is to formulate new economic questions which I then answer using relevant data and economic models.

Why is this work important?

On the teaching side I provide my students with tools which allow them to make better decisions, to better understand the world around them, and to become better informed voters. On the research side, I add to the combined e orts of all economists to better understand how the economy works and to help people make better decisions.

What is one thing everyone should know about about economics?

Economics is not about knowing how to make money, but about trying to understand how to improve everyone’s lives.

What is the coolest thing about your job?

That I get to travel to various states and countries presenting and discussing my research with other economists. I have traveled to 15 different states and all continents except for Africa and Antarctica to participate in various conferences.

What kind of training does it take to work as an economist?

To work as a college professor of economics, you need to complete a PhD degree in economics.

Can you tell us something challenging about your work?

Keeping my students interested and motivated in something I nd inherently interesting. Getting myself to stick to my own self-imposed deadlines when it comes to completing my own research projects.

What is a typical day like for you?

On a day when I teach, when I arrive to my o ce. I look at my lecture notes for the lectures I am about to give. I go to my two classes to give the lectures and o en see students in between the two classes I teach in a day. e rest of the time is usually devoted to making sure all online materials are ready for my students. On a non-teaching day, when there are no meetings and administrative work, I would get to my o ce and work on my research projects.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

I like spending time with my family and friends. I like watching movies, watching sports, reading and traveling.

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