Spotlight on Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni: Emily Discenza

discName: Emily Discenza

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Italian Studies

Additional Education: Part Time Simon School Student – MS Accountancy

Current City, State of Residence: Rochester NY

Job Title: Senior Associate

Employer: KTB Capital LLC.


How did you choose your major(s)?

I mistakenly thought that “economics” was a comparative substitute to being a business major. I hear undergrads today have the option to study either; however, I’m glad I studied economics. It gave me a broader and better sense of how our society works both economically and socially.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved in Greek life, club sports, and the study abroad program. Studying abroad was hands down one of my most valuable college experiences. I gained a very close group of friends I would not have otherwise had. You may have the opportunity later in life to travel internationally, but few of us will have the opportunity to live abroad and establish a home outside the US, so do it now!

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

Grades are important; however, I wish I would have put more emphasis on gaining professional experience while in college. Internships both during and in between semesters are key in getting the job you want after college. Get good grades, but don’t forget to balance your time studying with networking and utilizing the career center.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

Unless you have had substantial and diverse real-world business internships, put a pin in grad school after graduation. Grad school is a huge financial and physical albeit worthwhile investment. You need to know exactly what you want to pursue before making the commitment and you really won’t know that until you experience business areas outside of the classroom.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

Currently my position is a mix of financial reporting, investor relations, and property management for a real estate investment and management company. In five years I would like to have my MS in Accounting as well as a CMA and use those credentials to add value to a well established REIT in the city of my choice.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Amanda Michaud

MichaudName: Amanda M Michaud

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Mathematics, Arabic

Additional Education: University of Minnesota, MA and PhD- Economics (2012)

Current City, State of Residence: Bloomington, Indiana

Job Title: Assistant Professor of Economics

Employer: University of Indiana- Bloomington


How did you choose your major(s)?

At Rochester, I sampled courses in political science, philosophy, and economics hoping to better understand the world around me. I found the mathematical rigor of economics provided the most satisfying way to organize my thoughts. We can argue about assumptions, but at least in economics, assumptions lead to definitive conclusions.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I rowed with the women’s crew team all four years at Rochester. My experience was a lesson in the value of grit. We all know it takes many days of consistent hard work to become a better athlete. However, I found the patience to continue through bad days an even more important factor. Since leaving Rochester, I have found an ability to not be discouraged by the many failures that come before success a difficult, but important trait.

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

I don’t have any regrets. I chose to put myself in deliberately hard situations. For instance, I struggled with my Arabic courses, so I studied abroad in Egypt. It was difficult, but my Arabic improved. Sometimes hard experiences do not come by choice, but we can always choose to learn from them.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I chose to go straight to graduate school. The logic that spoke to me is: the sooner you go, the more valuable your education is because you get to use it longer. Luckily, as economic students, you understand opportunity costs as well.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying economics?

The best first job is the one in which you can acquire skills that will make you attractive to other employers. You will pay for these skills with a lower starting wage, but you will have more opportunities.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Indiana University in Bloomington. My job is to be curious and encourage students to be curious too. There is paperwork, but it is still the best job I could ask for. I chose this career because I am motivated by challenges and, as we have seen, the challenges posed to macroeconomists are never ending. Five years from now I hope to have put the power of the science to good use and to have challenged students to try out the “economic way of thinking”. Maybe I will have inspired a few to continue to explore economic logic as my professors at Rochester once inspired me.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Sohee Gu

gu

Name:  Sohee Gu

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: International Relations (Minor)

Additional Education: Currently attending School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Johns Hopkins University, and pursuing a master’s degree in International Economics + International Relations

Current City, State of Residence: Washington, D.C.


How did you choose your major(s)?

In my sophomore year, I was a pre-med student who reluctantly decided to take microeconomics just because it was required for this other public health course I wanted to take – I had no choice. Little did I know, I fell in love with the subject that semester, enough to switch my major and career track completely.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

My best friend and I created an art group called “GU-KT” partially for fun and partially to reflect our thoughts on various social issues via art. For the very first Art Awake, we ended up submitting this room-size installation that symbolized students’ negative biases toward the 19th Ward at the time, and it drew a lot of attention and got media coverage. Activities like this made my life more fun and richer than I ever thought possible- also, now I cannot see him so much after graduation, it has become one of the best memories.

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

How to effectively write and network with people. I find writing in the real world different from writing in college. Also, it is better to start networking now than right before graduation. Meet people, introduce yourself and your interests!

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

That there is a world outside of the campus and the city of Rochester. I wish I explored opportunities both in and outside of Rochester- internship, fun activities, travelling, etc.-  more aggressively and taken advantage of them.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I would definitely recommend working after graduation over attending graduate school right away. If you are determined to be in academia, that is one thing- however, as someone who only had a broad idea of what I wanted to do in my life, I gained so much from having that real world experience before going to graduate school.

 

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Crystal Cusimano

cuismanoName: Crystal Cusimano

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Psychology Minor and Business Management Certificate

Additional Education: M.S, Marketing and M.S. Education Media Design and Technology
Current City, State of Residence: Rochester, NY

Job Title: Director, Office of Summer Programs and Part-Time Studies

Employer: University of Rochester – Arts, Sciences and Engineering Deans’ Office

Community activities: Volunteer- Artist Row Committee (Rochester Public Market), Photographer for various not-for profit events (March of Dimes), Volunteer – Habitat for Humanity


What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

As a student I served as a resident advisor, a member Senior Class Council and volunteered tutoring young children at a battered women’s shelter. All three of these experiences taught me how to be a leader, how to build community, and how to appreciate and better understand the differences among people.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

My mentors on campus were many of those working in the student services administrative offices. They provided a supportive environment enabling me to be confident and always encouraging me to follow my passions.

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

I would have taken advantage of all the opportunities that the U of R has to offer. This is such a diverse school and the options are limitless. If I could go back I would have created my own multi-disciplinary major in entrepreneurship.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I took a much different path in regards to this and went to graduate school and worked full-time simultaneously. I believe this provided me with a unique experience allowing me to build professional relationships while also increasing my skill set and knowledge. In terms of deciding what to do right after graduation I recommend students should do what feels right for them.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying economics?

Studying economics gives you such a large skill set that lets you go just about anywhere. Don’t feel limited and don’t be afraid to go after a position that you think may not fit. Economics teaches you to look at things critically and problem solve. Those skills are valuable and important to have for any position you choose.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Lauren Latona

latonaName: Lauren Latona

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Business

Current City, State of Residence: Washington, DC

Job Title: Account Executive

Employer: BioScience Communications, a division of Edelman PR

Community Activities: Treasurer of Friends of TASO (http://friendsoftaso.org/)


How did you choose your major(s)?

In high school, I had a great economics teacher who showed me that economics uses intuitive ways to solve real-world problems.  It made me want to explore it further.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I played lacrosse for U of R. I never knew how much I learned from that experience while I was at school, but playing a sport helped me be able to work together with all different types of personalities, lead effectively, and be a strong teammate in the workplace.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

My lacrosse coach was my mentor while I was a student.  She was always willing to help and give good advice when any of her players needed it.  I continue to talk with her today and we were able to meet up during Mel Weekend.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

Unless you know exactly what you want to do, I would suggest working after graduation.  By getting your hands dirty in the working world, you understand better what you actually like to do, which will help hone down options for grad school.  While I was in undergrad, I thought about getting my MBA after college. But, now that I have a job, I’m looking at a Masters in Health Economics or an MPH- things I never would have thought of had I gone to grad school after undergrad.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I work as an account executive for a medical education agency.  In 5 years, I would love to still be at my company, further advancing along the career ladder! It’s given my great opportunities and I know there’s a lot more I’d like to do here.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Rakib Azad

azadName: Rakib Azad ’01
Occupation:  Sr. Manager – Financial Planning & Analysis – TheLadders.com
Education (UR and additional):   BA (Economics), University of Rochester, 2001; MA (Economics), NYU, 2006; MBA, NYU, 2009
Current city/state of residence:  Hamilton, NJ, work in NYC
Family:  Married, no kids
Community activities: Try to keep active in volunteer activities whenever I can


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose to attend the U of R for many reasons.  The major reason was the powerful combination of a small college feel backed by tremendous resources only found at large national universities.  When I made my first visit to campus, I was essentially sold.  The campus was beautiful and it felt right to me.  I am not sure there are too many schools in the country that can present this kind of mix like the U of R.

When and how did you choose your major?

I started off as a pre-med because “I thought” that was what I wanted to do.  After not enjoying the classes and struggling in Orgo, I had decided to take Economics 101 in my first semester of junior year and was hooked.  I was extremely lucky that I was at a school with a world class Economics faculty and interesting classes.  I was so immersed in the subject (along with a few finance-oriented classes); I finished the major and all requirements in two years!  I really think U of R’s encouragement to pursue interests in divergent fields was instrumental in finding my true interests.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was very involved in student life groups and was the chair for the UR Concerts Committee during my senior year.  My experience in UR Concerts is one my most cherished memories at Rochester.  What other school would a relatively shy guy like me have the chance to be put in such a leadership position and be in charge of a $75 K budget?  When I was chair, the rock band Everclear performed their first show at the U of R, in support of their latest album.  An unknown band at the time, Nickelback opened.  It was an awesome experience.  In my time at U of R my love for live music grew while also developing core leadership skills.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I graduated into a recession in 2001, which students today can relate to.   I certainly wanted to get into something in the Finance/Banking realm, and while I received some interviews from firms, I could not land a position.   It was very tough out there.  However, I was determined to get something Finance related, and finally came upon a position at company called Footstar, a retail and shoe manufacturing firm as a Financial Analyst.  In college, I had never really known that non-financial companies needed finance professionals, but this was a finance position, so why not go for it?

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I have mostly kept course and have been a Finance professional at retail and consumer products companies for the first phase of my career.  I have been at big companies such as Foot Locker and Avon Products.  After completing my MBA in 2009, I joined Havaianas USA, which is a subsidiary of a Brazilian company where their product has 99% brand recognition.  I decided to take on this challenge to help grow a brand and it has been a solid experience where I have had to use my financial acumen, creativity, leadership and communication skills. Recently, I decided that I wanted to switch gears and get into the Tech/Internet industry since it’s a burgeoning scene in NYC, which coincided with my growing interest in the space.  I am currently a Sr. Manager at TheLadders, a job search site that is looking to transform the job search on mobile devices.  I am enjoying it and plan to stay in the industry for the foreseeable future.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I always think back to the term Meliora to keep me inspired.  I always want to get better.  I have entrepreneurial dreams that I may pursue in the coming year or two (currently working on the business plan), but I also like what I am doing now.  My goal is to be at the top of my game as a finance, strategy and operations professional.  I want to keep learning and improve how I go about everything I do.  I am not going to set limits to where I can go and achieve.  If I had to give a more definitive goal, I would certainly like to be at an executive level at a mid to large sized tech organization in five years.

What advice do you have for current students?

Never limit yourself to the possibilities you may have out in the “real” world.  At first I thought needed to have a finance job within the finance industry.   When it was apparent that I could not break into the industry due to external conditions, I improvised and have created a rewarding career that I never would have imagined while in college.   Soak all the knowledge you can out there, whether it is in your major, minor, cluster or even outside of school.  Also, learn the soft skills of life, like communicating in a business environment.  These are very important skills to have.  In this day and age, it never hurts to keep on learning beyond the classroom!

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Alex Man

EconAlexManName: Alex Man

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Minor – Chemistry (Pre-med)

Current City, State of Residence: San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Job Title: Consultant

Employer: Simon-Kucher & Partners

Community activities: while at Rochester, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Meliora Capital Management


How did you choose your major(s)?

Freshman year, I took my first economics class with Professor Landsburg, “Principles of Economics.” I was hooked. It was so fascinating to me. I love how economics has the ability to describe not only issues within the field itself, but also extend to general human decision-making behavior, elegantly meshing quantitative and mathematical approaches with observation-based theory.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

My main affiliation was with my fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. Believe it or not, being in a fraternity may have been one of my most valuable career building experiences. You quickly learn how to engage, lead, motivate, encourage, and persuade all sorts of different people, and honestly perhaps most importantly, you learn to shoot the s*!@, and you learn to do it well.     

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

Students should enter internships with one goal: to learn as much as they possibly can during their time there. There are many important skills you can develop over the course of an internship, but I believe these are commonly overlooked: learn when to ask for help, learn how to take critical advice, and be open to uncomfortable, new situations.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying economics?

Work very hard, work smart, and try new things. Today’s job market for college graduates, as you well know, isn’t what it used to be. You need to really want it. Find something you’re really passionate about. I don’t know who said this originally, but it’s something I’ll always remember, “Irrational commitment leads to irrational success.”

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I am a Consultant at Simon-Kucher & Partners, in their San Francisco office, working in the Life Sciences division. I chose this career because I love its fast, intense, project-based nature, which gives even entry-level employees immense amounts of responsibility right from the get-go. In five years, I hope to continue to grow with the firm, with much more success to come. 

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Tarah D. Mitchell

Tarah MitchellName: Tarah D. Mitchell

UR Major: Economics, Biology

Additional Education: MBA in Finance (Kaplan University ’10), M.S. in Cost Analysis (Air Force Institute of Technology ’12)

Current City, State of Residence: Long Beach, CA

Job Title: Lead Cost Analyst

Employer: US Air Force (Military)

Community activities: USO Volunteer, Figure competitor


How did you choose your major(s)?

I initially had a double major when I started at the U of R – biology (pre-med) and economics. I have always been interested in both, but as my semesters progressed, I found more of a connection and passion for the world of economics.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

As a student I was primarily involved in BSU, MSAB, NSBE, and Air Force ROTC. By being involved in these organizations I gained leadership skills, honed my communication and interpersonal skills, responsibility, time management, awareness of current and local events, and the core values that influence my job today.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

In my opinion, doing both simultaneously broadens a person’s career opportunities. People that go straight to graduate school often lack the experience necessary to find a “good” job after graduating and people that go straight to work lack critical book knowledge. I worked full time in finance, while in graduate school for an MBA in finance. After completing graduate school I had not only credentials, but the practical experience to back it up.

What was your first job after graduation? What college experiences prepared or qualified you for that position?

My first job after graduation was a budget analyst within the USAF. Being a part of Air Force ROTC prepared me for this position and gave me insight into the Air Force culture, standards, and lifestyle. Earning my economics degree qualified me for this position by giving me the financial, statistics, critical thinking, and risk management skills required in the position.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

Now I am a Lead Cost Analyst for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), one of the DoD’s highest priority space satellite programs. In all honesty, I didn’t choose this position; the Air Force chose it for me (lol!) since I recently earned my M.S. in Cost Analysis. In five years, I would like to be an actuary and still serve in the USAF as a Reservist.

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Ashley Latimer

alatName: Ashley Latimer
UR Major: Economics
Other UR Majors/Minors: History (major) and Spanish (minor)
Additional Education: MA, International Development & Global Health
Current City, State of Residence: Washington, DC
Job Title: Program Officer, Child Health
Employer: PATH
Community activities: UR Women’s Basketball; St. Sebastian Society


How did you choose your major(s)?

I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation; economics seemed to open more doors than anything else. I knew that economics would allow me to translate my education and experiences into many things, and that was empowering. I felt I had options, no matter what I decided to do after graduation.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I played basketball for U of R and I was fortunate enough to be part of the St. Sebastian Society as well.  The biggest thing for me was being a part of a team; so rarely can we be successful in isolation. Being on a team taught me to share the successes and the losses. You learn to work together, to win and lose together, and to really do your part for the universal goal. That has served me so well in my career.

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

To be resourceful! No class is going to prepare you 100% for your next job. But what have you learned that can translate to your job at hand? How can you use what you know to ask relevant questions? And learn to ask questions – in meetings, of your cubicle neighbor, of anyone who has skills you want to gain.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I think working between graduation and graduate school is a must. I graduated thinking about law school, maybe an MBA. I worked and travelled for two years and realized I wasn’t passionate about either of those; I wanted something where I could travel, working in different countries and cultures. My first job helped me identify what I didn’t want to do. Sometimes the education outside the classroom is more insightful than expected; sometimes you have to learn what you don’t like before you learn what you do.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying economics?

Be open-minded. Economics opens a lot of doors – don’t be afraid to take one. You won’t land your dream job out of college; that’s okay. There will be plenty of time to learn, grown, change jobs, and figure out what you want. Use economics as a gateway to get where you want to go- the basics of economics apply virtually anywhere.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I am a program officer at a global health non-profit. The fact that billions of people in developing countries lack access to basic health care is something I am passionate about changing. Global health is fascinating to me, and I am enthused by the possibility we have to make real change in our lifetime. I’m not sure about five years – but I know I’ll still be working in global health!

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Anthony Baldo

Baldo

Name: Anthony Baldo

UR Major: Economics and Political Science

Current City, State of Residence: Tampa, Fl

Job Title: Vice president – Branch Manager

Employer: JP Morgan Chase

Community Activities: Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors – Treasurer and Safety Harbor Business Council Liaison.

 


How did you choose your major(s)?

Choosing my major was easy for me, because in some ways it chose me at a young age. I was always very business oriented, driven, and enjoyed the “why” behind successful business practices. Economics and political science fit well together, because politics impact our economy greatly.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

To be honest, this is a struggle to this day. Work can take over your life, but to be as effective as possible at work, you must be able to separate yourself from it, and enjoy yourself. I can’t say I have found balance in my life, but hard work, long hours, and that occasional vacation to seclusion has done me well.

What did you wish you had known before graduation? What would you have done differently?

I wish I would have had realistic expectations of what the real world was like after college. I think it is a common misconception that you are going to walk out of UR and have job offers knocking at your door. Senior year goes by very quickly, and if I could do it again, I would have spent more time resume building, and working with a career counselor to have a better plan after graduation.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs working right after graduation?

I received the best advice I could have asked for from a professor I had senior year. He said “Anthony, instead of going back to school to get a grade, get five years work experience, come back to apply what you have learned to become a better leader in the workplace.” To this day, I am thankful I listened, and joined the ranks of Chase. I will further my education at some point, but as needed, and tailored to my career path.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I was relocated down to Clearwater, Florida last September to open a new branch for Chase. It was my responsibility to get involved in the community, create a business plan, hire a staff of financial professionals, and start a branch from the ground up. I am able to run this business as my own, and enjoy each day in my role. I chose banking because I am passionate about helping my clients achieve their financial goals.

What career advice can you give to current UR students studying economics?

I would advise any current students to network and land as many internships as possible. At times, it’s not what you know, but whom you know. With that being said, I would like them to know that knowing people and having experience is ultimately how you get hired.