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PODS Spotlight: Garima Karia

Hi everyone, I’m Garima! I just finished my undergrad at McGill with a Joint Honours degree in Political Science and History.

For most of my life, I was convinced that numbers weren’t my thing. Even as I developed a deep interest in the field of international political economy, I would often shy away from exploring the quantitative methods behind the economic policy papers I found so fascinating. However, my experiences researching women’s labour market policy and working at an impact investment firm dedicated to empowering frontier market entrepreneurs exposed me to the intersection of policy and quantitative methods in a different way, and as a result, I started to change my mind about numbers.

PODS has allowed me to understand and apply the quantitative methods I used to avoid. Our statistical analysis, coding, and data ethics modules equipped me with the tools I know are necessary to craft a compelling policy brief – from data cleaning and analysis to policy prescriptions and ethical implications. I have come to realize that, when interpreted within the context of a real-life policy problem, numbers can not only be better understood, but also harnessed to tell powerful stories; I have also learned that it’s important to approach data and statistics with a sense of critical judgement, and that our task as data-driven policy analysts is to make sure our work is done responsibly, and ethically.

I’m very fortunate to be interning at BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada, where I am working on a comparative analysis of the Canadian and American technology sectors’ contributions to national GDP. By modelling various economic and policy metrics, my project seeks to better understand why Canada’s tech/innovation sector productivity appears to be stagnating, and what can be done to respond to this finding. While building datasets and learning about the Canadian Venture Capital ecosystem has definitely fostered my entrepreneurial spirit for the better, I have also had the opportunity to consult and collaborate with BDC economists, venture capital specialists, other interns, and my mentor, Tom Park (Vice President, Operations and Strategy), all of whom have been incredible to work with and learn from.

My PODS and BDC experience has led me to re-focus my career in a data-driven direction. As I begin law school this September, I am preoccupied by the impending sociocultural complications that come with increased data accessibility, connectivity, and collection. Thus, I hope to apply what I know about international trade and what I have learned about data to understanding the legalities and ethical implications of privacy, AI, data collection consent, and intellectual property.

While PODS may be rooted in quantitative methods and data literacy, it has also been the site of lasting friendships and mentorships. Our cohort, and the professionals we have had the opportunity to foster relationships with, have made the learning process that much more support-driven and rewarding. I am filled with gratitude for the individuals I have met through this program, whose support has been the bedrock of this summer of hard work and personal growth!


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