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Summer Research Assistant Program Gives Students Hands-On Experience

More than 100 Yale School of Management students worked alongside Yale SOM faculty this summer, researching issues at the nexus of industry and society.

By Karen Guzman

Aneta Gasiewska ’21, a joint-degree student at the Yale School of Management and Yale School of Public Health, had planned to intern at a digital health startup in Jakarta, Indonesia, this summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to those plans.

Jordan Woll ’20
Jordan Woll ’20

“I needed to pivot on very short notice,” Gasiewska said. She was able to find multiple remote work opportunities, including one through a new summer research assistant program created by the Yale School of Management. Launched after the pandemic shut down in-person learning and interfered with some summer internships, the program matched students with faculty members in a variety of paid summer positions.

“The faculty-sponsored research project was one of the highlights of my summer,” said Gasiewska, who worked with Edward Snyder, the William S. Beinecke Professor of Economics and Management at Yale SOM. Gasiewska, along with Raymond Albuero ’20, researched the advance of 5G wireless networks and their expected impacts on high-tech industries, creating briefs that will be used in Snyder’s Economic Analysis of High Tech Industries course.

Sonya Shen ’20
Sonya Shen ’20

“It turned out to be an even more fascinating topic than I originally expected,” she said. “I had not fully realized the implications of the shift to 5G on the economy.”

Gasiewska was one of many Yale SOM students who gained valuable experience in the summer research assistant program. In total, more than 40 faculty members hired 111 students. The program was open to continuing and graduating students in Yale SOM’s full-time MBA, Master of Advanced Management, and Master’s Degree in Global Business and Society programs.

Snyder said that his research assistants provided valuable insights. “As we got into the research, and certainly by the end, I realized how necessary this investment was,” he said. “The students gave me a firmer grasp on 5G, and the briefs really are necessary for the course.”

Esteban Gutierrez ’20
Esteban Gutierrez ’20

Snyder, who served as Yale SOM’s dean from 2011 to 2019, was also happy to get the opportunity to spend more time with students. “The best part was having the students visit my brother and me on Cape Cod as we worked to finalize the briefs,” Snyder said. “We maintained social distance, but in the evening we still had some very good games of Hearts.”

Three students worked with Aniko Öry, associate professor of marketing. Jordan Woll ’20 helped design a new elective course about the sharing economy model.

“Jordan helped me find cases, and we discussed how to structure the class flow,” Öry said. “She also provided the important student perspective on the virtual learning experience. It was perfect.”

Nathan Shekita ’20
Nathan Shekita ’20

For Woll, the experience was eye-opening. “It was fascinating to dive deep into the sharing economy, from crowdfunding to car-sharing to why people leave online reviews,” she said. “I also enjoyed getting to brainstorm course design, and I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes to make a great elective.”

Esteban Gutierrez ’20 also assisted Öry. He introduced a new programming language into her strategic marketing management course.

“Esteban took all of my slides and all of my lecture notes and put them into the new language,” Öry said. “I’ve been wanting to do this for some time.” The new language will allow students to focus more on course material and less on navigating the technology that delivers it.

Gutierrez called the experience a “sort of capstone project” to his time at Yale SOM, during which he has focused on the application of statistical modeling and data mining in the analysis of managerial problems.

“I realized the endless applications of the data analyses we worked with this summer—from a study of customer preferences for a startup to analyzing real time databases on COVID 19,” he said. “I’m so grateful that SOM professors offered us this opportunity.”

Sonya Shen ’20 used tools recently learned in classes to assist Öry with analyzing and understanding Twitter analytics. Working directly with faculty on real-world problems helped her internalize what she learned in the classroom, she said.

“I was introduced to programming languages in Introduction to Computer Science and in Big Data and Customer Analytics,” Shen said. “But it was through this faculty-sponsored project that I became proficient in some of the languages, because I got to think like a researcher and put meanings behind the codes.”

Nathan Shekita ’20 took his research further, authoring a paper that grew out of research he did into antitrust and competition policy topics for Florian Ederer, associate professor of economics.

“Florian and his colleagues were so gracious in their development of my career interests that they enabled me to solo-author a paper expanding on previous work,” Shekita said. “Thanks to the summer internship and the Yale SOM network, the paper has since been featured in media outlets such as Global Competition Review and included in Yale’s Thurman Arnold Project.”

“SOM emphasizes that its students become ‘leaders for business and society,’ and the summer project truly enabled me to embody that mission,” Shekita said. “As someone who envisions a career at the intersection of academia and industry, I’m incredibly thankful for these opportunities that advanced my career over just a few short months.”