Featured Cato Alumni

Andrej Arpas, Research Assistant, Cato Institute Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies

Cato Intern Class Spring 2015

How did you decide to intern at the Cato Institute?

Interning at Cato was a no-brainer. I had just completed a masters degree and interned at the Labour Department. I knew I wanted to garner some relevant work experience before continuing my studies and Cato seemed like the perfect match. Quite frankly, Cato’s research output and the transformative effect of Milton Friedman’s work on European post-communist economies were also important factors.

How did the internship affect the way you think about public policy?

It seems more malleable. Labour ministry was a different animal. You can powwow with the finance department, pore over every word any central banker utters or riffle through OECD research all you want but at the end of the day politics still permeates into the proposals. Think-tankers have the benefit of distance that may sometimes help discern a pattern more readily. Having said that, government analysts and civil servants keep an eye out for high quality research from brain trusts outside the government and so it is a mutually reinforcing relationship.

What kind of work are you doing now?

I’m in trade policy. With the recent proliferation of plurilaterals, my responsibilities lay squarely with data analysis, fiddling around with numbers, coming up with indices, evaluation matrices but also staying up to snuff on FDI. Without delving into the minutiae, I’ll also be spilling the beans as to our website overhaul which is in progress and in which I’m looking forward to being more heavily involved in the near future to build in databases.

What advice can you offer to fellow alumni who want to secure a job like yours?

Leverage your competitive advantage in a way that creates value for yourself and others. Capitalize on your capabilities. If you don’t have a particular capability, build it.

What’s something important — policy, philosophy, or something else — that you’ve changed your mind about recently? Why?

My perspective has become more nuanced with greater exposure to the likes of Jefferson. It is not necessarily a philosophical issue but I try to understand the mindset coming from the other side of the aisle a little better. And respect it. That doesn’t mean you always agree but keeping an open mind is essential for progress.