Ordinarily, if you’re rubbing elbows in the office with congressman, political economists and other influential thinkers, your office is probably on Capitol Hill. In truth, Danyoung Kim doesn’t work on the Hill itself, but she’s not far. And given the cast of people she encounters on a daily basis, it might be easy to mistake one for the other.
For her AFW summer fellowship, Kim is working at the Economic Policy Institute, an influential think tank in Washington, D.C., founded in 1986 for the purpose of including the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.
In her first three weeks she met former labor secretary Robert Reich, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and economist Raj Chetty, a John Bates Clark Medal winner and MacArthur Fellow.
So far, Kim has focused on education policy research, writing and editing drafts of school reform case studies and developing a survey to understand the value-added method of teacher evaluations, she said.
“My experience at EPI so far has been deeply edifying and enjoyable, and I feel that the work I do makes a direct contribution to the organization,” Kim told AFW. “I get to conduct my own research and learn more about the shortcomings facing the American education system today.”
Kim said she is most excited about her research on the gender gap in mathematics. In collaboration with a supervisor, she hopes to complete a mini report by the end of the summer that explores different causal effects of girls’ under-performance in math relative to boys.
“I appreciate most of all that I have the opportunity to expand my learning outside of my research area, and really, to learn about whatever I want,” Kim told AFW. “So far, I have been able, through self-education or conversations with various EPI researchers, to learn more about budget and tax, unemployment, poverty, wages and inequality.”
She added that during her first week, she was concerned that she might not be able to keep pace with the research and learning. But those fears, she said, were quickly dispelled.
“After being exposed to the level of detail and logic that is the standard at EPI, I have been able to absorb information without even realizing it,” she told AFW.
An incoming junior at Cornell, Kim plans to spend a year after college training in classical voice, a passion she has put on hold during her time at college. She then hopes to earn a law degree and practice for a few years before entering academia.
She believes her AFW experience will help her realize her many goals. “I am confident that AFW will provide me with a strong network of other students who seek to develop their careers and who have similar interests,” she told AFW, adding: “I have reached perhaps a rare moment in life when I look forward to the end of the weekend so I can finally go back to the office on Monday.”