Category: Life after Lawrence

Master of Supply & Demand… and Lots of Other Stuff

In a twist on the “Life After Lawrence” meme, Professor Merton D. “Marty” Finkler officially retired yesterday, after serving on the economics faculty for more than 30 years.  Professor Finkler is the consummate economist, always interested in talking about economics and ideas whether in class or at the ball game.   He also has a remarkable versatility, from his principal field of health economics to his core (and terrifying?) macro theory course to urban economics to sports economics to environmental economics and on to China.  It certainly is not possible to replace his expertise, at least not with one person.  Fortunately, he will continue to teach and engage with our students as an emeritus professor, beginning this fall with his Investments class.

Here he is pictured in his new hood (!), along with our faculty and one of our more photogenic students.   His Honorary Degree citation is below the break.

Last Hurrah

Continue reading Master of Supply & Demand… and Lots of Other Stuff

“There has never been a more interesting time to be an economist, I think”

Quora is a website dedicated to “sharing and growing the world’s knowledge.”  Ask a question, and the good folks at Quora will find someone with first-hand knowledge to answer it.

Today’s contribution to sharing and growing is “Why do technology companies hire economists?”

My response, of course, is Who wouldn’t want to hire an economist?. This response was unsatisfying enough that Quora asked Susan Athey, Professor in the Economics of Technology at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, to address the question. Here is my condensed version of her response.

This is a great time for economists in tech companies—the most interesting firms in Silicon Valley are hiring chief economists as well as economic teams at a very rapid clip….

Each tech company, and each chief economist, is different, but there are several main categories.  First are microeconomic issues involved in pricing and product design…  Second is corporate strategy…  Third is public policy… Fourth, and closely related, are direct legal and regulatory challenges — antitrust/competition policy issues and regulatory investigations.

More junior economists have a wide variety of roles in tech firms.  They can take traditional data science roles, be product managers, work in corporate strategy, or on policy teams.  They would typically do a lot of empirical work.

My emphasis (see also, here).

I was particularly interested in this nugget about why economists might be particularly valuable in a room full of data:

I have found that economists bring some unique skills to the table.  First of all, machine learning or traditional data scientists often don’t have a lot of expertise in using observational data or designing experiments to answer business questions.  Did an advertising campaign work?  What would have happened if we hadn’t released the low end version of a product?  Should we change the auction design?  Machine learning is better at prediction, but less at analyzing “counter-factuals,” or what-if questions.  (I’m currently doing a lot of research on modifying machine learning methods to make them more suitable for causal inference).

Click through for her complete answer to the original question, along with her insights on Bitcoin, the impacts of machine learning on economic science, the potential benefits of collusion, and some elaboration on her contention that “there has never been a more interesting time to be an economist.”

 

What Can I do with an Economics Major?

Why not take him/her out to lunch with you?

No, no, no.  Of course, I’m talking about what sort of Life After Lawrence is out there for our economics majors?  Well, the American Economic Association is encouraging its members to share this video.  Here’s the link:

A career in Economics… it’s much more than you think

Much more than finance, banking, business and government, a degree in economics is useful to all individuals and can lead to many interesting career choices. These four diverse individuals offer their insights on how a background in economics can be a tool for solving very human problems.

  • Marcella Alsan, a physician of infectious disease, discusses why she needed to pursue a degree in economics to improve the lives of her patients.
  • Randall Lewis, a research scientist at Google, uses economics and “big data” as tools to improve the functioning of markets.
  • Britni Wilcher, a PhD student of economics, offers insight on some misconceptions about economists and factors influencing her career path decision.
  • Peter Henry, dean at the NYU Stern School of Business, points to the true nature of economics and the importance of diverse voices informing the field.

Here is the American Economic Association’s link of information for students considering an economics major, covering topics from what economists do to what type of skills you will develop as an economics major.

If you are considering a major, please click on the Advice for Potential Majors link that you should see in your left frame.

Non-Trivial Career Services and LSB Message

Following what will undoubtedly be a busy Trivia Weekend, we turn our attention to Career Services and some of the upcoming opportunities for you to consider Life After Lawrence Now.  Starting Wednesday, January 28, and running through the weekend, a number of alumni and friends will be on campus to help you think about your career.  You can see who is going to be here and when by looking at the upcoming events calendar.   Send an email to Career Services if you’d like to reserve a time to meet for a general career chat  (careerservices@lawrence.edu ).

Go to the Career Services website or go drop in for more information.  Check out some of the events after the break:

Continue reading Non-Trivial Career Services and LSB Message

Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

Over the next few weeks, we will be compiling some resources for those of you who are interested in doing graduate work in economics.  Certainly, your first stop should be to talk with one or more of your professors (especially the economics professors, I suppose).   The American Economic Association is probably your next stop.

You might also check out the Miles Kimball / Noah Smith essay on the economics Ph.D.

I have this on my mind because I just received Stuart Hillmon’s Getting a Ph.D. in Economics in the mail.   If you care to take a look at the book, you can come by and I’ll loan it to you.

Tyler Cowen comments.

Learn about financial services from Lawrentians

The next Lawrence Scholars in Business event is coming up this Saturday, February 1st. The topic is financial services, and the panelists will be

  • U.S. Bank – Michelle Bauer ‘87
  • Morgan Stanley – Michael Martino ‘80
  • Kepos Capital, L.P. – Andrew Miller ‘96
  • Heartland Advisors – Dave Ribbens ‘83

This is a great opportunity to interact with alumni who know a lot about the financial services industry from experience, and who are  coming to campus to share that knowledge and insight with you. Whether you are interested in financial services or just not sure what those careers exactly involve, take advantage of the opportunity to learn more from Lawrentians.

LU Alums are Generous to a Fault

One of my favorite Lawrence alums, Eric Schacht (’89), is featured on the LU website for winning the Stanley Malles Award for distinguished community service.

From the press release:

Schacht led the launch to form the Mahomet Community Tennis Association in 2009 to introduce tennis to this area with few tennis courts and no high school team. During the past five years more than 30 junior high and high school girls have participated in a program designed with the team concept. Schacht’s dedication to working with the girls in the program has led to them recently playing competitive matches against area clubs, tournaments, and invitational events.

Two years ago, the Mahomet CTA started offering a Midwest Youth Team Tennis program targeting for youth 10 years of age and younger. Approximately 60 children participated in the summer program in 2012, and the successful program will again be offered in 2013.

Schacht has been coaching girls’ tennis teams for several years, and was previously the coach at two area high school teams. He also served as a volunteer coach for the University of Illinois women’s collegiate team.

You can catch the charismatic Schact in his acceptance speech here.

Schacht was a standout tennis player at LU from 1986-1989 and has been an avid sportsman his whole life.  Going back to 1980, for example, his YMCA ‘Spartan’ basketball team came up short in its quest for the title to the more talented (and better looking) ‘Badger’ team.  See Professor Gerard for details.

In his day job, Schacht works as general counsel for Wolfram Research, developers of the fabulous Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha projects.

Congratulations to Eric.

EPA Internship Opportunities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has internships available, including opportunities for economics majors and other social scientists. Here is text from the announcement being circulated:

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) has several research projects available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

These projects provide opportunities to participate in ongoing research activities at various EPA offices and locations. Qualifications, appointment location and appointment length vary depending upon the project. Participants will receive a stipend depending on educational level and research experience.

The ORISE Research Participation/Internship Programs at the EPA are designed to provide a flow of scientists and engineers into the EPA to participate in current research and development activities and studies, and related projects. In addition, the program links the EPA’s technologies with the capabilities of the academic community.

Check http://orise.orau.gov/epa/ for details and the application.

Life in 2100

Those of you who visited Deloitte on the LSB Chicago trip heard Jonathan Bauer’s ringing endorsement of a book (“it’s great… based on the first five pages”).

The book is Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku. If the New York Times review is to be believed, the book’s strength lies not in its style, but in the breadth of the information its author summarizes.

Mr. Bauer treated us to an hour of entertaining, informative, and memorable comments on the transition from Lawrence to a job, on the consulting world, and the life of a consultant.

Entrepreneurship in Chicago

Thirty of us returned last night from another very successful Lawrence Scholars in Business trip to Chicago. Most of yesterday was “entrepreneurship day.” Before lunch, we went to ICNC, an incubator hosting over a hundred start-ups. We got to visit two of them, Souldier and Element Bars. The latter was a winner on Shark Tank! Our gracious hosts at ICNC were Steve DeBretto and Tom Cassell. Tom teaches the Entrepreneurship Practicum at the ACM Chicago Entrepreneurship program. The deadline for Fall 2012 has been extended, so it’s not too late to think about making this part of your next year. If you liked the two-day immersion experience we got in Chicago, you’ll love the term-long immersion experience you’ll get in the ACM program. Consider taking advantage of this great opportunity. The ICNC is not just a space to practice whatever your craft is, but it is also a community of entrepreneurs, with a strong support network.

After lunch at the Berghoff, we went to the Merchandise Mart to visit the just-launched hot new tech-incubator 1871. If your start-up might need a truck to pull up to your space, ICNC is where you’d want to be. But if you are a software start-up, you’d want to be at 1871, the intersection where the explosion of ideas takes place. Dozens of start-ups, six venture capital firms, four universities, many prestigious sponsors, and a number of mentors come together in a space designed beautifully for creativity.

Huebner Pre-Law Fellowship

If you are a junior and interested in going to law school, you should consider applying for the Dennis Huebner Pre-Law Fellowship.  The Fellowship provides a stipend of up to $2000 for Lawrence students who are interested in enrolling in law school. Applicants must have junior standing and a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

What might a Huebner Fellow do?

The answer is that it is fairly flexible.  You can use the stipend to study for the LSAT, supplement your living expenses for a summer legal internship, cover your law school application fees, and that sort of thing.

See Professor Gerard for further details.

Don’t miss that famous Chicago trip

The LSB program sponsors an educational trip to Chicago every year.  The purpose of the trip is to provide students an “immersion experience” in one of the country’s financial and entrepreneurial hubs.  The trip will take place during reading period, on May 3rd and 4th.  We will leave at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 3, and return in the evening on Friday.

We will have a full schedule, visiting the following organizations: Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Madison Dearborn Partners, The Northern Trust Company, Deloitte, LBC Credit Partners, Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, Ennis Knupp + Associates, and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

The costs of the trip are covered by the LSB program. The trip is open to all students. This trip is a great opportunity to learn about the business world up-close, in a way that you couldn’t do on your own. If you would like to join, register through LUworks.  Deadline to register and pay $20 refundable deposit is April 25.

Lawrence Scholars in Law / Business Event

This Wednesday, Basil Vasiliou (1972 alum) will be on campus to talk about the potential benefits of a masters in business administration (MBA) and a law degree.  The Lawrence Scholars in Law and Lawrence Scholars in Business programs are co-hosting the event.  Mr. Vasiliou’s talk will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Cinema, and is followed by an informal dinner with students in Andrew Commons, Parish/Perille rooms.

After graduating from Lawrence, Mr. Vasiliou picked up an MBA from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Fordham, and he has worked in the financial sector, including serving as chairman and CEO of Vasiliou & Co. since 1986.

You might consider bookmarking this page to keep abreast of the Lawrence Scholars events.

A Lot More Light

This Saturday, October 29 is a maelstrom of opportunities for those of you looking to eventually enter the working world as Lawrence launches its 2011 More Light! Career Conference.  There are many, many alumni coming back to give some pep talks on leadership, taking initiative, career paths into various vocations, and what you students can do to prepare for Life After Lawrence NOW.

The particulars are quite remarkable:

Leadership in Life After Lawrence – Stansbury Theater 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. with the following distinguished alumni:

  • ABC News “Nightline,” Co-Anchor, Terry Moran ‘82
  • Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Division President, Joanne Bauer ’77
  • Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker, Catherine Tatge ‘72
  • Former U.S. Ambassador to India, David Mulford ‘59
  • Business Executive, Author and Professor, Harry Jansen Kraemer ‘77

Lawrence Scholars Secrets to Success panel discussions in:

  • Business…..10:30 – 11:45 a.m.    Steitz Hall, Room 102
  • International Careers…..10:30 – 11:45 a.m.    Steitz Hall, Room 202
  • Law…..1:00 – 2:15 p.m. Steitz Hall, Room 102
  • Athletics…..1:00 – 2:15 p.m.   Steitz Hall, Room 202
  • Arts & Entertainment…..2:30 – 3:45 p.m.   Steitz Hall, Room 102
  • Medicine…..2:30 – 3:45 p.m.  Steitz Hall, Room 202

You can also attend a Networking Lunch at Andrew Commons at 12:00 noon, giving you an opportunity to lunch with alumni.

Finally, there is the Japan’s Ministry of Education’s Japan English Teaching (J.E.T.) Info Session – Career Center 4:15  – 5:00 p.m., where Michael Van Krey ’94, Japanese teacher with Evanston Township High School and former JET teacher will discuss the application process as well as his experiences with the J.E.T. program.  Michael will be joined by Joette Bump, President  – JET Alumni Association, Wisconsin Subchapter.

Blooming entrepreneurship

If you’d like to find a shining example of an entrepreneur who is a Lawrentian (and an Economics major to boot), I suggest you google Abir Sen. The most recent news item that will show up is this Bloomberg report announcing that WellPoint, the largest insurer, is buying most of Bloom Health, which Abir founded and has been leading as CEO. Before this venture, he co-founded RedBrick Health, another innovative health care company. But wait, there is more. From the Bloom Health website:

Before co-founding RedBrick Health, Abir co-founded Definity Health and was part of the team that invented the Personal Care Account, the predecessor to the Health Savings Account. Abir has also worked as an advisor to Fidelity Investment’s Health and Welfare Business, where he helped launch Fidelity’s benefit consulting business. He began his career at Deloitte Consulting, where he advised large managed care organizations and integrated delivery systems on M&A and turnaround strategies.

Abir has a B.A. in Economics from Lawrence University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. Other than health care, Abir’s interests include aviation, border collies and U2.

Those of you who have had the chance to meet him on campus know that he is a great guy to talk to. He is a great believer in the liberal arts education, which he has been able to apply to solving problems in the world. If we’re lucky, we might see him on campus again this year, so look for his name on this channel.

Don’t Drive like my Brother…

I’ve just been alerted to the LUCareer Talk website — a podcast with a wealth of information about getting you from being a student to being an employed member of society, productive or otherwise.  This week our own Cuong Ngyuen talks about how to network effectively and provides some guidance for those of you looking for full-time employment or internships.

Which should be pretty much all of you, no?

Looks like a pretty solid website, with interviews with students and alums, as well as some employer profiles.

But this week tune in for Cuong.

LSB Chicago trip, 2011

It’s the third time, and that makes it a tradition: reading period in Spring term means that it’s time for the Lawrence Scholars in Business Chicago trip. Open to all Lawrence students, the trip is sponsored by the LSB program, and made possible by the generosity of Lawrence alumni who open up their board rooms for our students. For two days, 33 Lawrence students got an immersion experience in Chicago’s bustling world of business and finance.

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Natalie Garber ’97, Daniel Kolev ’98, and Michael O’Connell ’81 reassured us that a liberal arts education is the perfect foundation for much of what they do at the CME. O’Connell, a Managing Director with broad previous experience in the financial industry, was a biology major at Lawrence, and advised students to take the hard courses and do well in them in order to show both ambition and ability to potential employers. (Not to mention that doing well hard courses has the added benefit of learning a lot.) We had a chance to look at the trading pits, too, to hear the yelling, and to learn the basics of the zany hand-signal language that traders use.

On the 46th floor of Three First National Plaza, Harry M. Jansen Kraemer ’77 welcomed us to Madison Dearborn Partners with lunch

and a (connected and convex) table big enough for 35 people. With an amazing view of Lake Michigan and downtown as a backdrop, we had a fascinating, captivating, interesting dialogue with Harry Kraemer. He reminded us that he has very few answers, but many opinions, and then shared many of those opinions with us. On careers: divide a sheet into three columns, write things you enjoy doing in the first, things you would rather avoid in the second, and in the third column, write down occupations that maximize what’s in the first column while minimizing what’s in the second. If this seems simple, that’s because it’s meant to be: Kraemer prefers to make things simple, whenever that’s possible. That is a rare gift, and one we appreciated very much as we listened to him explain, in simple terms, what private equity firms do, how they do it, and what the interesting issues surrounding those activities are. Though Kraemer’s charisma cannot be conveyed in a book, many of his opinions can, and you can read about them here. Kraemer generously presented to every one of us a signed copy of his book.

Continue reading LSB Chicago trip, 2011