“Oh, you’re IFEP? You MUST be smart.”
“IFEP? No, I’m good after macro, no more for me.”
“IFEP! You’re going to make so much money!”
These are just a sample of some of the statements one may hear as a SIPA student concentrating in the illustrious International Finance and Economic Policy, also known as IFEP. I’m writing this to answer some common questions and give my general impression of the concentration (DISCLAIMER: I am still doing requirements for the concentration so I’m currently taking International Trade and Theory of International Political Economy…..both are fine….so far).
(DISCLAIMER 2.0: I’m going to use acronyms to make my life easier while typing this. At SIPA, we live in a world of acronyms.)
The IFEP concentration has three main tracks: International Finance (IF), International Economic Policy (IEP) and Central Banking (CB). A majority of the students in IFEP are split between IF and IEP, with a minority of people concentrating in CB.
How good at math do you really have to be to succeed?
It definitely helps to be good at math but in all honesty, I don’t think I’m that good at math, and I have been doing fine. However, I have experience in the quantitative and economic fields, so I am more comfortable with the material. It is still difficult for me and takes some time to grasp it, but I enjoy the challenge.
Why did you choose to concentrate in IFEP?
Economics was a weakness of mine in undergrad, and I chose IFEP to improve my understanding of economic theory and analysis skills. I wanted to change my weakness into a strength. I knew it was going to be a change of pace, but I got tired of dodging economics so I jumped in head-first. Plus, I’m looking into infrastructure investment and development / political risk as potential career fields and strong economic skills can help in those areas.
Do you have to come from finance to succeed in IFEP?
Once again, it definitely helps but it’s not a must. Brushing up on key economic and financial concepts can go a long way to succeeding in IFEP. I’ve seen people with not much quantitative experience do well in IFEP. They spent time going through the material and practicing the logic behind the theory.
Is Quant scary?
In the beginning it is, but once you get used to it and understand how it is used to evaluate policy outcomes, then it is not too bad. When you put in the effort, you’ll have that breakthrough moment when you finally understand a difficult topic. It’s a deep dive into statistics and regressions which after about two months, most people get.