IE Pre-Grad Intern) Sophomore
Victoria A. Bilban
Throughout my youth, I have always had an energetic desire to learn mathematics. In my high school years, I always looked forward to taking my math tests. Upon coming to college and taking the core business subjects, I gained an immense interest in economics and how it is used to analyze the economy and different markets. Similar to mathematics, economics appeared to be a very challenging, invigorating, and dynamic, so my desire to learn the basic fundamentals of economics increased. And while my major, accounting, is disciplined, concrete and often memorized, economics is theoretical, conceptual and debated. It has been my interest for quite some time to integrate the theoretical with the practical and I have found economics to be a subject that provides me that opportunity. This is why I decided to enroll in the Pre-Graduate Intellectual Entrepreneurship. It was through my mentor, Dr. Barry Khan, exposing me to life as a graduate student, and his tech startup company that I was able to improve my analytical skills and my understanding of auction theory and economic graduate curriculums.
In the beginning of the semester, Barry Khan was a graduate student, about to finish and defend his dissertation. The first thing we did was read and analyze his dissertation, mainly focusing in on assumptions he had made to create his model. I then was given the assignment to help him research and find a missing piece of the model to better prove his thesis. It was in this assignment that I was first exposed to the world of economic journals and articles. While daunting and somewhat hard to read, it was this assignment allowed me to learn how to research efficiently and in the presence of difficult subject matter. Due to class scheduling conflicts, I was unable to attend the seminar in which Barry defended his dissertation, however, he did practice his speech the night before with me. It was great to be able to get a glimpse of what writing a dissertation involves, as well as getting to see the whole thing come together and Barry succeed at receiving his Ph.D.
Towards the middle of the semester, I applied for a grant from the IE internship to travel to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas and hear Martin Boderstein, a member of the Board of Governors, speak. Due to Martin Boderstein rescheduling, the seminar and the trip has been moved from November to December. I will be traveling Dec.9th to hear him speak Dec. 10th. After the seminar, Barry has arranged for us to sit down and meet some of the researchers and employees. I also applied for a grant, outside the IE internship, through the student government for a $1000 undergraduate research award. Unfortunately, I did not receive the award; however, writing both grant proposals gave me a better understanding of the difference between a business style of writing and a more academic approach to expressing my ideas and proposals.
While I learned a lot through shadowing an economics graduate student, I also came to the realization that while I have an immense interest in economics, graduate work and a PhD in this subject is not the right path for me. I discussed this with Barry and midway through the semester we decided on a different path: exploring his startup tech company, qcue. In order to begin working with the company I needed a better grasp on auction theory. The resale of tickets has always presented a problem for primary ticket sellers. The reselling of tickets at prices above face value has continually reminded distributors of the inefficiencies of the current system. With the increasing prevalence of the internet and auction sites such as Ebay, the resale market has experienced rapid expansion. There is an increasing interest in changing the way primary sellers release, price, and attempt to control the market. Through work in Dr. Barry Kahn's company I was able to look at auction theory and help provide an alternative model for companies to maximize profit through a two stage release of tickets: an initial uniform price auction followed by a dynamic double sided auction. One of the main concerns that Dr. Kahn and his associates have in the company is how to determine the optimal amounts of tickets to be initially released before buyers have made the decision to attend or not attend, and the amount of tickets to hold and sell in the secondary double sided auction. It was through researching many different databases and journals that I assisted Dr. Barry Kahn in understanding the auction market more clearly. This research has three purposes. First, auction theory and particularly multiunit auction theory is underdeveloped in economic literature despite being central to the field and perhaps the most directly applicable topic in research. Second, it will answer the question of optimal ticket amounts to release for enabling Dr. Kahn to implant this solution within his tech startup. Finally, this problem is not isolated to the ticket market. This framework is similar and can be applied to a plethora of other areas including Treasury Bills and other e-commerce activity.
It was through the IE internship that I was able to gain a better grasp of the subject matter I wish to pursue going forth with my undergraduate education. While I no longer wish to pursue graduate work in economics, I have reaffirmed my love for the analytical and theoretical. It is through this internship, that I was exposed to a real life application integrating economic models, math, and business. It is this that I wish to pursue more fully. I am so thankful I took on this internship at an early stage in my undergraduate career (as a sophomore). Next semester I look forward to taking two interest theory courses in the mathematics department that will hopefully open my eyes to a more integrated, well rounded view of the US and world economies.