If you are a student interested in earning an economics PhD, you should consider working as a research assistant before starting graduate school. Working on someone else’s research projects is an opportunity to learn a lot about the research process that is never taught in PhD courses. Learning by doing is a powerful force.
I’m hiring people to start working with me in summer of 2018. Apply here: http://www.nber.org/jobs/Dingel_Chicago%20Booth.pdf. More generally, you can find a list of such opportunities on the NBER website.