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Sample cover letter for Full Time position at Abdul Lateef Jamel Poverty Action Lab


senior research associate

I am writing to express my interest in applying for the position of Senior Research Associate in Taxation and Public Procurement, which I saw in the J-Pal Jobs page.

In terms of academic and research experience, I have recently completed my Masters degree in Economics at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. My Masters consisted mainly of empirical courses such as Development Economics and Political Economy, and theoretical courses like Cross-Section Econometrics and Public Economics. Prior to that I completed my professional degree in Business & Economics at the same university.

This position appears to be an ideal match for me due to my combination of experience in Masters-level development economics research, organizing student-led research initiatives and coordinating academic guidance for said initiatives.

I’m particularly impressed by J-Pal’s goal of obtaining causal evidence on the effects of different policies through rigorous impact evaluation. As a founder of a university wide initiative for student research on public policy issues, I consider this the critical link between academia and policymaking: providing public debates with reliable answers on what works and how.

My first and main approximation to RCTs and causal inference was Professor Gallego’s course on Economics and Evaluation of Social Policy: based after Banerjee and Duflo’s “Evaluating Social Programs” and “Foundations of Development Policy”, this course gave me a profound insight into impact evaluation methods.I gained full understanding of RCTs and other causal inference methods, which I used in writing research proposals on topics such as: a proposed randomized evaluation design for a child tutoring program, the gains in learning from admission to a better school through an RD design and the effects of political decentralization on schooling using instrumental variables. Lastly, I recently completed my Masters thesis on the effect of income shocks in marriage decisions in a developing country, using rainfall variation to estimate the effect on the timing of marriage for young women.

I’ve also been in charge of organizing research initiatives and convincing faculty members of making more space for student research opportunities and offering their guidance to such initiatives, which led to the opening of undergraduate research courses in my faculty and at the university level and the publication of an annual research diffusion book. This initiative also gave me ample experience in coordinating the efforts of academic-oriented students. Adding to that, my internship in Fundacion Techo gave me significant experience in data analysis using Stata and communicating results to non-academic audiences. I also gained experience of the back office side of impact evaluations by working as a data typist for an evaluation on parental involvement in education carried out in Chile.

Finally, I consider myself an ideal match for this position my familiarity with the local medium and academic community and my skill organizing both students and academics make an ideal match for this position.

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