What the BLEEP is the IMF and How Can I Work There?

by Derek Loosvelt | May 16, 2011

Although accused attempted rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn has brought the IMF some unwanted scandalous attention, the Fund is actually a great place for experienced economists to work and for budding young economists to begin a career.

imfIf you're not aware of what the IMF is or what it does, think of it as a sort of United Nations of economics. That is, the UN is to foreign policy as the IMF is to economic policy (more or less).

Conceived in 1944 at the close of WWII with the help of superstar economists John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White, the International Monetary Fund aimed to combat the problems that had occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when "countries attempted to shore up their failing economies by sharply raising barriers to foreign trade, devaluing their currencies to compete against each other for export markets, and curtailing their citizens' freedom to hold foreign exchange" -- all of which "proved to be self-defeating."

The IMF formally began in 1945 in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, when 28 countries signed the Fund's "Articles of Agreement." Today, the Fund has nearly 190 participating countries, and its main missions are "to provide policy advice and financing to members in economic difficulties"; "work with developing nations to help them achieve macroeconomic stability and reduce poverty"; and "to ensure exchange rate stability and encourage member countries to eliminate exchange restrictions that hinder trade."

In other words, it polices countries' economic policies, helping nations when in need and encouraging them to play nice together.

With such lofty goals, it's no surprise that some of the world's top economic minds have passed through the halls of the Fund (which is based in Washington, D.C.). And, along with providing experienced economists at the top of their field a chance to influence the world's economies, the IMF offers an excellent, three-year training program for recent graduates. Here's an overview of the program (called the "EP"):

"During the three-year program, participants are given two assignments, each lasting 18 months. Assignments may be in an area department dealing with country-specific issues; or in a functional department dealing with fiscal, monetary, balance of payments, debt or other issues ... Participants work closely with experienced members of the staff and are given considerable responsibility in carrying out operations-related analysis and research ... Participants normally take part in at least two missions (business trips) during each assignment period ... Toward the end of their third year, successful participants may be offered a permanent ("regular") staff position, provided that performance during the EP period has been fully satisfactory and contingent upon the availability of staff vacancies."

For more on the program, as well as a list of requirements, check out the IMF careers site. There, you'll also find job vacancies in areas such as finance, fiscal affairs, statistics, monetary and capital markets, and strategy, policy and review.

(IMF Careers)

(Related: Ex-JPMorgan Economist Takes Over for IMF Head Accused of Sexual Assault)

Filed Under: Finance


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