Research Economics

LEAP Offers MSc Interns a Taste of What Research Means

, by Fabio Todesco
Students are recruited by the development economics laboratory twice a year to work with faculty on ongoing projects, with responsibilities in program design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation

Simone De Luca, a second-year student in the MSc in Economic and Social Sciences (ESS), realized what working with data means when he was selected for the first edition of the LEAP Internship Program, in summer 2023. "The experience sharpened my understanding of the importance of assuring accuracy, consistency, and reliability of our datasets," he said. Assisting from Milan Professors Alexia Delfino and Stefano Fiorin with their launch of a survey in Kenya as part of a study on the relation between the availability of lactation rooms and women's labor market participation, he also observed the relevance of cultural differences in conducting research.

Michele Salatino, another ESS student, had the chance to do some field work in his hometown of Naples for a study on education in disadvantaged areas conducted by Professor Selene Ghisolfi. "Not only did I experience the nuts and bolts of field work, but I also learned more about the city where I was born. I had the chance to observe the difficulties faced by people living in certain areas and to feel the importance of what a research lab like LEAP works on."

Twice a year, Bocconi's Laboratory for Effective Anti-poverty Policies (LEAP) recruits interns among research-oriented Bocconi MSc students. As a curricular internship, the program gives the opportunity to gain academic credits. "The selected interns will have the opportunity to work with faculty affiliated with LEAP on several projects and will take on substantial responsibilities in program design, implementation, monitoring, research, and evaluation," the Winter call states.

LEAP's mission is to build a proper evaluation culture in development-related decision making, by promoting rigorous economic research and impact evaluation methods when formulating public policies.

The current Associate Director for Research at LEAP, Luca Privinzano, did a comparable LEAP internship in Uganda years ago as a student. "It opened a new world to me," he commented. "Before that, I did not even dare to imagine that research in development economics could become my profession. I loved the experience and I wanted to be sure that the current program would also be appreciated by students. A survey conducted after the first edition confirmed that the goal was reached."

The LEAP internship provides students with hands-on experience in the field of development economics. Interns actively participate in data collection, survey design, and data management activities. They gain practical insights into the implementation of Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) and the nuances of real-world research. This practical experience bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge acquired in the classroom and its real-world application, preparing interns for careers in research.

The internship is introduced by a week-long induction course detailing the workings of research at LEAP, which allows students to immediately dive into and enjoy their experience.

"My internship at LEAP was an opportunity to interact with experts in the field of survey research and not only to learn from them about clever survey designs from a theoretical standpoint, but also to get my hands on real survey data and understand how it is managed," said Edoardo Ardito, one of the interns of the first edition of the program.

You can find the call for the Winter 2023 edition (application deadline 21 November) clicking here: