Economics Study Abroad Programs Offer Unique Opportunities

Christian Clerc at Aix-Marseille Université
Christian Clerc at Aix-Marseille Université

Contributed by Economics Senior Academic Counselor, Patrick Pineda:

For many University of Washington (UW) students, studying abroad often provides unique opportunities to explore exciting destinations, learn independence, and engage in different ways of thinking. Taking part in international exchanges with other universities allows them to share their UW experiences with broader, global communities. For Department of Economics alumnus Christian Clerc (BS ’11), studying abroad has given him an array of amazing opportunities for growth and learning, both inside the classroom and out.

As a dual French and American citizen, Christian had already traveled to France on numerous occasions with his family. In his senior year at UW, it was a natural choice for him to consider the Department of Economics’ undergraduate exchange program with Aix-Marseille Université in Marseille, France, during the 2011 Autumn and Winter Quarters.

After his semester of study in the Aix-Marseille Université undergraduate program, and with the fortuitous timing of graduating from the UW while abroad, Christian was presented with the unique opportunity to pursue and earn a Master of Science in Economics from the Aix-Marseille School of Economics (AMSE) in 2014. Being able to complete coursework from the rigorous curriculum of AMSE brought him exposure to different ways of thinking, valuable internships and work experiences, and opportunities for research.

Christian credits his preparation in the UW Economics and Mathematics programs with helping him prepare for the heavy workload of both the undergraduate and graduate programs at AMSE, noting that the class structures were quite different from UW – with heavy emphasis on exams – but the material was interesting and alluring. Christian had great support from the faculty members with whom he networked, as his assistantships have ranged from researching the economics health of Mediterranean nations, to the transmission of culture to the United States, and the contribution of information and communication technology diffusion to labor productivity growth.

While at AMSE, Christian co-authored publications in two economic reviews:

“It’s thrilling to know that the work on which we spent so much time had interested two economics reviews. Many hours working on these papers were spent off the clock, so it’s a wonderful feeling to know that the endeavor paid off,” Christian said.

Living abroad has allowed him to work and live with diverse people, and enjoy being part of a multi-faceted culture. In his spare time, Christian serves as a referee for professional men’s soccer with the French Football Federation. His previous experiences with United States Soccer helped him explore his interests even more, now from a different lens.

Christian’s advice for UW Economics undergraduate students:

  • Diversify your degree. Know the direction where you want to head so that you can prepare yourself for the “real world”. For example, many jobs as an analyst look for candidates with advanced programming skills (VBA, Macros, etc.) with mathematics experience, alongside economics.
  • Get an internship. You can gain a lot from internship experiences, which is very valuable when applying for jobs.
  • Enlarge your horizon. Spend some time away from home, whether on a trip or studying abroad. You’ll meet wonderful people and make lifelong friends. You might even run into someone that will offer you a job! If anything, you’ll grow as a person.

Christian graduated from UW in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Economics and a Minor in Mathematics. He considers both France and the U.S. as “home”, and plans to return the U.S. soon to continue pursuing his interests.

For more about the UW Department of Economics Study Abroad Programs, contact Patrick Pineda at