CREC Internship Profile: Greg Hirschfeld
Each year, the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) hires a number of interns who help the organization during the busy summer period. Each is offered an opportunity to learn how the organization helps municipalities, states, and regions respond to changes in local job markets; and CREC specifically works with undergraduate and graduate students who need academic credit. Most internships attract students who major in economics, public policy / administration, urban planning, and governmental affairs. As part of a series on student learning, CREC looks back on conversations with interns who discussed their passion for helping regional competitiveness.
Intern name: Greg Hirschfeld
Graduate Program: Masters of Arts in Political Science
School: American University’s School of Public Affairs
1. What brought you to CREC?
I found out that CREC was hiring interns when the career counselor at American University’s School of Public Affairs brought it to my attention. It fit perfectly with my desire to focus on research, policy, and data.
2. What professional passions have you been able to further grow while interning at CREC?
Before joining CREC, I considered myself an amateur data nerd. Now I am a professional. Working at CREC deepened my appreciation for research and data. Action is most effective when it can be backed up with independent data, and CREC provides communities, economists, researchers, academics, and workforce development professionals with the support they need to most effectively use data to their advantage.
3. As you’ve worked on the State Business Incentives Database, you’ve had the chance to interact with economists/stakeholders from around the country. Tell us about that experience.
One thing you quickly learn at CREC is the importance of your projects. Helping with the State Business Incentives Database gave me direct responsibility for reaching out to agency and research directors around the U.S. to build and qualify information on the more than 1,900 state business incentives in operation around the country. My work here has emphasized how essential this project is for economic researchers each day.
Overall, the Incentives Database has given me greater perspective on how states interact with one another as well as how economic and workforce development trends have changed throughout time.
4. What have you learned as you’ve worked with the Cost of Living Index?
The first months of my internship were almost exclusively dedicated to the Cost of Living Index, which is a major source of key national consumer city-to-city comparison costs. While it was daunting at first to work on a project with so much institutional respect and longevity, I realized I had a diverse set of new skills such as database management, index development, and large data-set analysis.
5. Tell us about any research opportunities you’ve been able to work on or how your role has changed now that you have transitioned into a full-time employee.
One of the advantages to CREC’s size is that each staff member has an opportunity to have an impactful presence on a number of projects. In the past year, I have continued to manage databases and moved on to write and edit reports for publications, and I have created and conducted membership surveys that inform product-development plans and further engage our association members. Perhaps the biggest change is that I am now the State Business Incentives database manager, which gives me the opportunity to dig even deeper into the business-incentives process.