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Insights and Inspirations: Reflections at the AIER

Picture of Justin de Vries

Justin de Vries

2023 Mannkal Scholar

As my internship with the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) draws to a close, I reflect on an adventure that was both enriching and transformative. The opportunity to engage with research, coupled with the exploration of America’s vibrant Northeast, has been a privilege that has shaped my life in many ways. This journey has not only honed my academic and professional skills but also broadened my cultural horizons, providing me with an experience that transcends the conventional internship. It is with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude that I recount the highlights and the impact of my time at AIER.

During my internship, the bulk of my time was devoted to reading and researching a topic I chose under AIER’s guidance. This led me to research the effects of subsidies for renewable energy in Australia on electricity prices. Given the condensed nature of my program, diligent work was needed to ensure the completion of the research within the limited timeframe. My efforts culminated in findings that attributed the surge in Australian electricity prices from 2009 to the present almost entirely to the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target scheme. These findings hold significant implications, potentially influencing energy policy in Australia. Subject to AIER’s approval and assistance, I am aspiring to publish my research in a peer-reviewed journal. This step would lend authority to my work, amplifying its impact on the discourse surrounding energy policy.

Having the chance to present my research to AIER’s faculty in a concise 10-minute presentation was a pivotal moment for me. This opportunity went beyond a simple academic exercise; it was a step in developing my abilities to articulate ideas succinctly and engagingly. Mastering public speaking and presentation skills is vital for anyone in the realm of research or any field that demands clear and impactful communication. The challenge of condensing my research into a brief presentation not only tested my ability to highlight the core of my findings but also emphasised the importance of engaging an audience with clarity. This experience was not just about refining essential skills; it offered a real glimpse into the day-to-day life and challenges faced by researchers. The positive reception and constructive feedback from the faculty not only bolstered my confidence but also deepened my resolve to pursue a career in research and writing, a field I had been considering with interest.

My time at AIER transformed each day into a quest for new knowledge. Far from just affirming my interest in research, it deepened my passion and curiosity, pushing me to explore beyond the surface of conventional studies. This venture into the world of data gathering and analysis brought a profound sense of accomplishment. Each day presented new challenges, from deciphering dense data sets to connecting disparate pieces of information to form a cohesive narrative. This constant engagement with the unknown and the potential to contribute to meaningful policy changes made my time at AIER very rewarding. The experience has not just solidified my dedication to pursuing research or writing as a career but has also highlighted the deep satisfaction that comes from immersing oneself in work that can drive real-world change. The insights gained and the skills developed during my tenure have indelibly shaped my approach to research and my future career trajectory, making it a transformative phase of my professional development.

AIER offered more than just a platform for research; it provided a gateway to experiencing American life, particularly in the Northeast (New England). During my stay, I embarked on three significant journeys: to Albany, Boston, and New York City, each within a three-hour drive from AIER. Albany, the capital of New York State, was a quiet city, notable for its splendid architecture, including the New York State Capitol building. My trip to Boston proved the most educational, rich in American Revolutionary War history, and it also facilitated bonding with fellow interns. New York City was a highlight, offering unforgettable experiences such as visiting Times Square, enjoying a Broadway show, exploring iconic churches, and witnessing landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the 9/11 Memorial. Despite the heavy rain, our spirits remained undampened, making each trip memorable and enriching.

Reflecting on my time with AIER, I am grateful for the opportunity to grow academically, professionally, and personally. This experience has enriched my life, leaving me with insights and memories that will guide my future endeavours.

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