June 10th, 2011
Andrew Bauer does work that could be fairly described as the “dream job” of many political science and economics students. He is currently at Revenue Watch Institute, an organization whose role lies at the nexus of law, political science and economics. It is dedicated to promoting the effective, transparent and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the public good. RWI is engaged with resource-rich countries across the globe, working on civil society capacity building, transparency and accountability in management of resource revenues, and consulting on best practices on a wide range of issues, including contract terms.
As RWI’s economic analyst, Andrew is based in New York City. In his words, his work is focused on “promoting good governance and good economic policy.” Part of his role is advising governments and civil society groups on the economic implications of various policy options when it comes to managing the extractive sector, including the oil industry.
Andrew came to McGill as a Bachelor of Arts student in Economics and International Development Studies. He would later go on to complete an M.Sc. at Oxford University. It was during his time as an undergraduate at McGill that he completed two internships. He interned first in Kenya, assisting in a constitutional review undertaken by the government in 2004 and articulating its effects on indigenous pastoralists. In conjunction with Transparency International, he also worked on identifying issues of corruption arising from that process. That year, he was among the first cohort of interns to benefit from the assistance of an Arts Internship Award.
In 2005, he went on to get further experience in anti-corruption and governance issues in Ghana, at the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in Accra. Andrew credits these internship experiences with much of his current career success. “These experiences had an impact on the work I do and the way I think about that work. I don’t think you can provide good advice to a government, or whoever your clients are, without real world experience,” he says.
Getting that initial experience can be difficult, though, and the entry barriers can seem prohibitive. Andrew’s biggest piece of advice for students looking to enter a certain career is simple but important: know what you want to do and why. “Many students ask, ‘What should I study?’ or ‘What internship should I do?’” Andrew says. “If you’re really passionate about your subject and you’re really interested and your heart’s in the right place, it really doesn’t matter. You’ll be successful. People who aren’t successful are the ones who are doing things for the wrong reasons.”
In particular, he advises students to think carefully about what they’re trying to get out of their internship experiences: “Do you want to make a difference, or just learn something, or set yourself up for a certain career?” Knowing what the expected outcome is can help students assess their own success in retrospect. It can also help them think critically, ahead of time, about the potential added value of an internship experience to their career.
And when asked whether his internship experiences were worth it in terms of his goals and career plans, Andrew is unequivocal. “They were more than worth it. If I hadn’t done those internships, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”