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They were going to create a system that is the most efficient job market imaginable. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) SMITH: When economists decided to create a job market for themselves, they thought of everything. The job market is planned for the exact same weekend as the American Economic Association conference, so they knew all the big players in economics would already be around.

Every year, universities and companies that want to hire a professional economist converge on one city. Every young economist who wants their first job shows up in the same city at the same time, ready for a make-or-break weekend of intense questioning. But doing a conference and a job market at the same time means that they need thousands and thousands of cheap hotel rooms.

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About 1,800 economics graduate students converged on the chilly Chicago streets in early January. MA: So they decided to show the rest of us how it should be done. SMITH: Oh, not just any market, a hyper-efficient, multibidder, optimized sorting system effortly (ph) balancing the needs of management and labor, tested by game theorists, tweaked by a Nobel Prize winner himself. But he also says he's having these anxiety dreams about the interviews that are coming. MA: He's applied to universities, private companies, private consulting firms. He loves big datasets, people who have a lot of numbers.

Some of them ran through those streets, trying to get to the next hotel on time. At some point in time, the economics profession decided it was going to create a job market unlike any other. And the reason why we loved it is that finding the perfect job - we all know this - wastes a lot of time and a lot of money. Today on the show we'll see how it works out for them. It is not a coincidence that he was actually the only graduate student that agreed to be followed around by us. SHU: In my nightmare, my interviewers ask me a question and I just have no response to it whatsoever. So he applied to work at, of course, the Census and the Treasury Department. There are about 1,800 other grad students just like Julian going for the same jobs.

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