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Economics undergraduate, Adam Brzezinski, reflects on his experiences as winner of the ‘Best Undergraduate Paper’ at IAES Conference.

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Economics undergraduate, Adam Brzezinski, reflects on his experiences as winner of the ‘Best Undergraduate Paper’ at IAES Conference.

Adam Brzezinski, who graduated with a First Class BSc (Econ) degree was awarded the prize for the 'Best Undergraduate Paper' at the Atlantic Economic Society Conference. The finalists were asked to present their work at the 82nd Conference in Washington DC on 15 October 2016, where Adam was awarded first place.

Adam proudly received a cash prize for his accomplishments, and his paper will be printed in the upcoming issue of the Atlantic Economic Journal. His paper was the product of his third year Research in Applied Economics (RAE) project, entitled 'Synergies in Labour Market Institutions - the nonlinear effect of minimum wages on youth employment', which he completed under the supervision of Dr. Piotr Jelonek. The other finalists included students at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania.

Below, Adam reflects on his experience as a finalist;

There are many ingredients to this experience that make it truly remarkable. Above all, this was the first time that I had a chance to participate in an academic conference, which took place over the course of three days (Friday to Sunday, 14-16th) in Washington D.C., at a location that is difficult to beat: the Hyatt Regency, located just two minutes from Capitol Hill.


It can feel quite daunting at first, being amongst few delegates with only a Bachelor's degree, when so many attendees were professors and established academics from across the globe. However, I soon overcame my insecurities and enjoyed networking with Japanese, Indian, Brazilian, German, Spanish, Polish, Romanian, British and American academics (to name a few!).

With the knowledge that I would present my work on the Saturday, I spent Friday listening to a number of engaging presentations on various topics, and was surprised by how inviting and relaxed the environment was. Even as an undergraduate, I felt that my comments were welcome and valued by the professors. Friday was closed with a lecture on macroeconomic policy given by Lawrence Christiano, one of the fathers of DSGE models.

Saturday started off with a speech by Joel Mokyr, an acclaimed economic historian and the president of the International Atlantic Economic Society, whose work I encountered in the first year of my degree at Warwick. He gave an upbeat speech on technological change, convincing the public that a bright future lies ahead. During lunch, I met the other three finalists who took part in the 'Best Undergraduate Paper' competition, who were all American and only attended the conference for one day.

Finally, it was time to give our presentations, and for better or worse, I was first in line. The format was simple, each finalist would present their paper for 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session. The latter was difficult but rewarding, allowing me to discuss my research in more detail and highlight some aspects for improvement. For me, the question and answer session was both the most challenging and rewarding element of the whole trip as it highlighted the intellectually stimulating world of academia, confirming my aspirations to continue my economic education and study at Master's level.

The other presentations were exceptional, and each of the finalists were deserving winners of the competition. However, after a brief pause in which the jury retired for deliberation, I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the winner. I was completely overwhelmed, and still am.

This was a truly exceptional experience that I can recommend to every student. In order to participate, you just have to send in your completed RAE project. The effort is minimal, while the potential payoff is remarkable.