This article was originally published in the summer 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Taking an advanced economics class as a Princeton freshman gave Sonya Huang ’10 the opportunity of a lifetime. Though the recession themed course, taught by acclaimed economist Alan Krueger, was an upper-class elective, Huang performed superlatively. She made such an impression that after President Obama nominated Krueger as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Krueger asked Huang to join his team as an intern at the White House.
“I really did want to experience politics,” said Huang, “so when the opportunity presented itself to work at the White House, I took it in a heartbeat.” As an intern, Huang prepared academic, policy, numerical and econometric analysis supporting the Council of Economic Advisers and the White House. The data she provided was used in speeches and internal memos, as well as highlevel policy discussions. “My work touched many areas, the most exciting of which (to me) was inequality, intergenerational mobility, and labor economics as a whole,” said Huang.
Apart from the thrill of bumping into President Obama in the halls, Huang said the internship was valuable for sparking and solidifying her interest in labor economics. Though she will be an investment banking summer analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York this summer, Huang says her time at the White House inspired her to get a Ph.D. and pursue a career as an academic economist. “I really want to experience everything firsthand so that I can weigh which path will give me the best combination of intensity, intellectual stimulation and personal fulfillment,” says Huang. “We’ll see what happens. I am confident that everything will work out in the end.” We can hardly disagree.