Summer is traditionally a time for relaxing, but when you’re working more than 40 hours a week and your work can follow you home, how do you find time to balance it with exercise and social time?
Arushi Saksena shares her tips for getting everything to fit in her day as a research assistant at Columbia University and dealing with applications with rolling admissions. She learned that she really can make her work fit into her life and how valuable all the knowledge she picked up over the last few years is in the present.
Name: Arushi Saksena
Job Title: Summer Research Intern, Columbia University
Location: New York, NY
College: University of Chicago
Year: Rising 4th
Major: Economics, minor in Math & Cinema and Media Studies
What are you doing this summer?
This summer I’m working with a phenomenal Professor of Finance in Columbia Business School on how bank shocks affect innovativeness. I do a lot of data analysis and coding in SAS and Python.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
*Maybe* grad school in the distant future, but currently I just enjoy playing with data, doing proofs, and learning cool econ concepts! I’ll see where that takes me.
How did you get your internship?
My university’s Econ mailing list advertised this internship program early in the Fall of my junior year, and I applied within the week. After completing 2 interviews and solving a data assignment, I was offered a position within a month or two of applying!
What do you wish you had known during your internship search?
I wish I’d relaxed more during my internship search. I was so worried about not getting a job that I applied to literally everything that I was even remotely qualified for given my skill set, and ended up wasting a lot of time. I applied to a lot of data-based, research jobs and to a few economic consulting firms.
In my case, most applications opened early fall offered positions on a rolling basis. Since many of these jobs have rolling applications, applying early goes a long way because the bulk of the competitive applications they get come after you’ve already applied. Most of my friends were recruiting for finance jobs, so we had very different internship search experiences. I didn’t really have to attend any networking sessions like them (which I hear is very time-consuming), but I also spent a significant amount of time working on data assignments for various internships.
What does a day in the life look like?
I try to get a workout in on weekdays because my weekend schedule is always hard to predict, so I wake up really early (~6:30 AM) and run along the Hudson River in Riverside Park. Then, I come home to quickly get ready and pack my lunch.
I get to work sometime between 9 AM – 9:30 AM (depending on how long the line for coffee was at Corner Bakery that morning), and then spend significant time working on my computer.
For lunch at about 12:30 PM, I try to get out of the office and get some fresh air. Usually, I eat my lunch on the steps of a beautiful library in the heart of campus with the quad all around me. Sometimes, I meet with the other interns and we go to a restaurant nearby, or I meet with my professor for lunch and we discuss my progress and the results I found.
The rest of the day is pretty much the same until about 6 PM, after which the interns and I usually get dinner at fun happy hour spots around campus. Before sleeping, I usually finish up on catching up with my family and friends on the phone and finishing any other thing on my to-do list! I try to go to bed by 10:30 PM- 11 PM so I don’t feel too tired the next day during my run.
How has this job changed what you see yourself doing in the future?
The job definitely helped me decide that although I love data, I want to apply it the way I am right now before I dive into many more years of school where I’ll primarily look at theoretical concepts. I kept battling between doing or not doing a PhD immediately after graduating before I started my job, but applying my skills from school to real-life research issues here has made me realize there’s so much I still have left to do before I have to make the heavy grad school decision.
You can follow Arushi on Instagram @inarushi.