Advice from Former Students

Student 1:

“Thanks for asking me for input, well, I think taking more computer science classes and have a strong math background will be very helpful. The ability to code in computer science language will never hurt you, so I would say pick it up as soon as one can.”

Student 2:

“I do have a few comments regarding the course selection and grad schools based on my own experience. Hope it will help.

1) Course SelectionI would suggest the undergraduate to select courses broadly and do not be scared away by the courses that you do not like or excel at. Take myself as an example, back to a few years ago as an Economics Major student, I was so glad to have the opportunity to choose courses from a long list including Economics, Mathematics, Finance, Accounting, Philosophy, Communication, etc. It was not until I had worked in the real business world that I understood how important those course were. For example, I found accounting essentials could provide a solid foundation for your job regardless working as an analyst for banks, investment firms, fund companies, or starting your business. Also, strong mathematics, statistics or CS background could make you a competitive candidate for a fund or risk analyst position. Communication skills are very necessary especially for international students looking for a front desk or client related opportunity.

What's more important, no matter what you will be doing going forward, you’d better always be aware of the U.S. and global policies, which shows the importance of understanding macro-economics and international finance/trade. For instance, for fund managers, Fed policy plays a vital role in their decision making process. They take prompt actions with regards to the real-time information and predictions on the timing of Fed policy changes. For business owners, policy changes such as QE could have a significant effect on their businesses in terms of financing cost, international trade, business environment, etc. In fact, this is something related to every household when making decisions such as buying a house.

2) Graduate SchoolGetting into a grad school immediately after getting your bachelor degree might not be the best choice. If I get a second chance, I might try to hunt an internship or job first before applying for an advanced degree. Why? On the one hand, you could have a better understanding of what you really love and what your expertise is; on the other hand, you would have a better chance to be admitted by your dream school and study or do projects with more talents like you. However, I am not regretting the decision I made two years ago regarding pursuing a master degree. Just keep in mind, no matter when and where you go to the grad school, you’d better try to set up your goal, work hard, reach out more people and be nice to others. Networking is extremely important, since it not only let you make more friends but also keep you posted with ongoing information. You never know.”

Student 3:

"Here you will meet the most helpful Professors, Teaching Assistants and Academic Advisors who show you how to learn and where to look. Here you will master the most lethal weapon, not only professional knowledge, but the ability to learn. Here is the university that helps you in whatever way to make your dream come true. Perhaps the roots of education are bitter, but believe me, the fruit is sweet. Best wishes for all ICB students."

Student 4:

“What I wish someone had advised me, though admittedly they might have done had I known to ask, is to do lots of projects outside of class. Grades are important, but what I ran into later on was "Great, grades! Now what else have you done?" Employers are focused on experience. They want to see that you can do something, not just test well. They want to see that you understand the material.Don't worry about doing groundbreaking analysis. Just explore the material from your classes.

Put your projects up on a blog, keeping in mind that it might get read by a future employer at some point. Realize that most of the world hasn't gone beyond Intro to Micro/Macro Economics, and might be surprised and intrigued to find there is more to economics than they learned as Freshmen.When you have questions, and these side projects will hopefully fill you with them, ask a Professor. You'll learn many times as much from a directed question than you learned from the lecture, and engaging with the Professors outside of class could lead to more interesting projects!Furthermore, lose your fear of math as soon as possible! Math is not merely calculation, it is a language. Don't leave it for later. While you can't apply much economic knowledge to math problems, you will constantly apply mathematical knowledge to economic problems.

If you understand the language of math before you explore economics in depth, the material will make more immediate sense and you will end up with a much deeper understanding. If you spend half the class struggling with the math, you aren't learning the economics!Don't get discouraged by those first few math classes either. Calculus 1 and 2 were the most difficult classes I came across on my way to a degree in math. They are perversely designed to "weed out" some portion of students. Once you make it through those two, you're home free.Lastly, realize that your degree -that piece of paper- is only one line of your resume -another piece of paper- that will only get you as far as the interview stage. From there, you must impress with knowledge, experience, and social skills. Be sure that the degree you work so hard for is not just a piece of paper. Make sure it represents a body of knowledge that you are poised to expertly wield for the right price or the right cause.”