Martina Jašová comes from Slovak Nitra and in 2017 she finished her studies at the IES with a doctoral degree. She has spent the last year and a half at Princeton University in the United States and an earlier another part of her graduate studies she lived in Japan where she studied at Waseda University. She also gained experience abroad during her Master's program at the IES. She was the first student of a FSS CU at Sogang University in South Korea in 2010, and she also visited Italy thanks to the Erasmus program, when she got an opportunity to study at Sapienza - Università di Roma during her undergraduate program.
Martina is currently working as a short-term Research Economist at the ECB in Frankfurt. In summer 2018 she starts as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York. In past, she worked for nearly a year in the Bank of International Settlements, but she also passed an traineeship at the ECB. In the Czech Republic, she has been working as a consultant at a company Adwise since the IES‘s Bachelor study.
In her spare time, Martina is mainly doing sports, she likes skiing, hiking, cycling, or practicing yoga.
You studied at some universities in Japan or in South Korea, this is not usual for the Czech students. Was it difficult to get in there? What would you recommend to those who are interested in the similar experience? Was it you own initiative, or study stay thanks to the IES?
My study programs in South Korea and Japan were both possible thanks to the generous support of the Charles University. Before going any further I would love to, first and foremost, encourage any student to seize these or similar opportunities and try to gain international exposure during his or her studies.
Korea came completely out of the blue. In 2010, FSS partnered up with Sogang University and it started to offer exchange study programs. I was absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to go and study international finance in this Asian booming metropolis and yet cannot emphasize how little I knew about Seoul back then. Although I was the first IES student leaving for Korea, Charles and Sogang jointly did a marvelous job and took care of everything.
My stay in Japan, on the other hand, was purely my own initiative. During my stay in Seoul, I briefly visited Japan and fell in love with the country. Upon my return to Prague, I decided to take up Japanese language classes and after two year of evening courses, I reached that moment when I already knew some solid grammar and yet I was absolutely not capable of using it in everyday speech. This had happened to me before with some other languages and so I knew that the only way ahead is to move to Japan. I started looking around and I found that Charles University cooperates with Waseda University in Tokyo. At the time, these exchanges were primarily aimed at Japanese majors but I decided to give it a shot. I was already in my PhD program and so I reached out to a possible PhD supervisor in Tokyo who agreed to have me in his research group. Since the first moment, I knew my attitude will determine how much I’ll get from the stay.
Did you experience a culture shock, or did everything go according to your expectations? Were you the only one from Europe, or were there many people like you?
Absolutely! In Seoul, every new day was a new adventure. At some point I could no longer contain my endless sequence of culture shocks and wonders and I started blogging about them :-). With a benefit of hindsight, I must however admit that I lived in a huge expat bubble: on campus, in an international dormitory and with only a handful of Korean friends who still spoke fluent English.
Japan was my conscious deep dive into the local culture. I had known much more before moving there and I was strongly determined to gain my own “raw” Japanese experience. Shortly after my arrival, I moved out of the international accommodation and lowered my exposure to foreigners. I lived in a small traditional house with a Japanese “grandfather” and his cat in the heart of Tokyo. I scaled down my Japanese courses for foreigners and took up calligraphy with local students instead. I spent my holidays volunteering in Tohoku region (area hit by 2011 earthquake and tsunami) and my Japanese vocabulary quickly extended to the level of discussing “snow shoveling duties” with fellow volunteers. It sounds like a great deal of fun today but getting deeper into the Japanese culture brought along a lot of solitude and self-discovery. Building friends was slower than in the West and with lots of setbacks. With that said, the friends I have found in Japan are my friends for life and if I could turn back the time, I would do the exact same thing again.
You have been living in the USA since 2016. You’ve spent the final part of your PhD at Princeton University. How did this university influence you?
I can talk about East Asia for hours but nothing has had a stronger influence on me than Princeton. Although I hold my PhD from IES, I have spent the final 1.5 years of my graduate studies at Princeton University. In terms of influences, this time was the most formative and I would never be able to have a shot at where I am right now without it.
I joined the group of macro-finance students working under the supervision of Professor Atif Mian. Throughout my time at Princeton I primarily worked on my own research project which later turned into my job market paper. Of course, I wanted to make the best of the full experience: I took elective courses, I attended regular research seminars and I tried to meet and speak to Princeton professors about my own projects. This all helped to bring me closer to the work that is currently at the frontier of academic research. On the top of all, this January I went on an academic job market with a kind support of professors from Princeton University for which I am incredibly grateful.
You passed an internship at ECB and currently you are carrying a research for ECB too. What is the topic of your research and what exactly are you doing?
My research combines empirical evidence and economic theory at the intersection of macroeconomics and finance. I work with granular micro-level data to provide answers to macro questions on topics related to financial intermediation, central bank policies and labor market. My latest research aims to answer two main questions: (1) how do changes in maturity structure of bank debt affect bank lending behavior and (2) what are the implications for real economy? To do so, we go deep into the data and try to test predictions from theoretical literature. With my coauthors, we work with the detailed data on monetary policy of the ECB and we match it with loan-level information on credit granted to a full universe of firms in Portugal. In practice, this means I spent my days with STATA and I frequently visit the central banks and my co-authors in Europe.
You are starting a new position of an Assistant Professor at Barnard College, Columbia University in NY, was it difficult to get a job like that? How does recruitment process look like in the USA?
Economists are great at solving complex problems and one of the most fascinating examples is the matching process of graduating PhD students in economics with their future employers. Every year, thousands of students apply for positions through the job market. This year I was one of them. I sent out my applications to a number of openings in academia and in international institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.
After months of preparations, in early January, everyone meets for a weekend at the ASSA conference (this year it took place in Philadelphia). Each institution books a hotel room and schedules 30-min interviews with potential candidates. If things go well, you’ll end up with full three days of interviews and essentially run from a hotel to another in a freezing blizzard. Successful candidates are afterwards invited to faculty visits (fly-outs). This way you can visit the department, give a seminar (job talk), and have plentiful meetings with the faculty. My professors always emphasized that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when a diverse pool of economists is truly interested in you and your work. I was very fortunate to visit some exciting places and get to meet will never forget how stressful the entire process really is. I am very grateful to have a fantastic partner who supported me throughout this difficult period.
As you’ve mentioned, this summer I will join Barnard College as an Assistant Professor. Barnard is a selective female liberal arts college affiliated with Columbia University in New York. I feel very fortunate to have an opportunity to join their Economics Department and contribute to their academic excellence. I cannot emphasize enough how much I‘d love to encourage more and more students to challenge themselves and apply to study or research stays in top institutions abroad.
How do you relax, which are your hobbies?
I love to rest actively. I enjoy anything from skiing, hiking, biking to yoga. My father likes to say that I got my name after Navratilova and so recently I have been trying to find out whether there is any name fixed effect in terms of tennis skills. I definitely have lots to improve but I am not giving up just yet :-).