What have you been up to since Bowdoin?
I currently live in St. Paul, Minnesota and am a staff economist at Minnesota Management and Budget, a state government agency. My unit produces forecasts of Minnesota economic activity and major sources of tax revenue for the governor and state legislature, mainly revenue from the state income tax, sales tax, and corporate tax. I’ve worked here since October 2020.
Before I started my job in state government, I spent 2 years obtaining a master’s degree in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota. From 2016 to 2018, I worked in upstate New York for the nonprofit Ramapo For Children. There, I was mainly a retreat program leader for school and community groups from all five boroughs of New York City. I also worked with young adults with special needs engaged in a residential transition-to-independence program.
I guess I have several answers to this question — one answering why I started studying economics and several why I continued studying and working in the field (albeit after a couple years “off” after I graduated from Bowdoin).
I started studying economics in my last year of high school. I don’t think I had ever really heard of economics at that point, to be honest, so it piqued my interest. Or if I had already heard of it, I had no idea what it was. I transitioned into introductory economics courses when I came to Bowdoin and was intrigued by the breadth of questions that economists address. At its core, an economy is made up of a group of people who value things individually, act on their valuations, and are typically constrained by the fact that things tend to be scarce, or at least finite. Making sense of economic relationships is important for so many meaningful goals that we humans have — combating climate change, creating successful school environments, and being financially secure in retirement are some examples. At Bowdoin, I benefited from so many great economics professors who were engaging and supportive. I ended up writing an honors thesis on the U.S. organic fruit market with Professor Erik Nelson my senior year.
A couple years removed from Bowdoin, I decided to apply to graduate school in applied economics. From my two years of hands-on experience in the nonprofit world, I had come to highly value public service. I saw a master’s degree in economics as a flexible and practical opportunity for me to begin an eventual career in the nonprofit or public sector. Now, almost a year into my role working in Minnesota state government, I can say that the field of economics never ceases to be engaging, relevant, and impactful.