Rice Economics Fall 2019 Newsletter - Page 4

Senior Spotlight: An Interview with Biz Rasich ‘19 Biz Rasich is a senior MTEC major and a member of Lovett College. investment banking, or a general business career, it may actually be more useful to use the ECON major’s flexibility to take additional economics electives rather than bulking up on multivariable calc and linear algebra concepts you won’t necessarily need. You’re not an English major, but you’ve taken English classes every semester. How have those classes helped you in your MTEC coursework and how do you envision them helping in your career? When did you know that you wanted to major in Economics? How would you advise younger students who are contemplating majoring in ECON or MTEC to explore the majors as they relate to their educational and career interests? My dad is a Kellogg MBA and he instilled good business fundamentals in me and my siblings as soon as we could walk and talk. If we wanted to exchange a $20 gift card for cash, we got a lecture on liquidity. When our grandparents took us on a spending spree at Christmastime, the amount we got to spend was indexed to inflation. By the time I got to college, majoring in Economics wasn’t really a question! The next choice was whether I would major in ECON or MTEC. For me personally, I felt so intellectually engaged in ECON 200 (Microeconomics), learning about the mathematical underpinnings of the field, that I had already begun thinking about graduate school in the future. I decided that MTEC would give me the best preparation for graduate work and for conducting my own research. My biggest piece of advice to students is to carefully consider which major will further their careers. MTEC is great preparation for grad school and quantitative research careers because of its emphasis on mathematics and empirical work. However, if you’re interested in going into consulting, My passion for reading and writing has become a major asset in my classes, my internships, and my job search. I’ve found, for example, that being able to structure an argument in a proof actually has a lot of similarities to how you might set up an argument about oceanic symbolism in Mrs. Dalloway. Recruiters have also been excited to hear that I have a background in English. When I interviewed for a Business Development internship, I was stunned that my interviewer started by saying, “I see you’ve taken several English courses and have published a few short stories. Tell me more.” They knew I’d be able to analyze spreadsheets but also communicate clearly with coworkers, executives, and potential buyers. In the end, being able to communicate clearly is such a fundamental aspect of what economists do. Whether in the business world or academia, it’s not enough to be brilliant at math and econometrics—you have to be able to make cogent arguments and explain why your ideas matter. Tell me a little bit about your research project this year. How did your coursework in the department prepare you for this research? This year, I’m finishing up a research project that aims to predict the likelihood of someone going bankrupt before they actually file in court. Dr. Yinghua He’s ECON 209 (Applied Econometrics) class was fundamental in preparing me to conduct my own research. It’s an incredible course because it opens the door to exploring your own questions about the world. I didn’t have to wait for anyone else to write a paper—I could finally write my own! Throughout the semester, we kept learning new tools to do research and seeing the ways that math could so elegantly make sense of data. I still remember the day Dr. He taught us about fixed effects because I went back to my room and excitedly tried to explain it to my roommates. When I started my bankruptcy research, I actually came to Dr. He and asked to borrow the textbook we used in that class so I could refresh a few concepts! What has been your thought process about applying to graduate schools now vs. working for some time before applying? My original plan was to apply for graduate school the fall of my senior year (i.e., now), so I prepared with extra math courses and research classes as well as taking the GRE the summer after sophomore year when I would have the most time to study. That plan was shaken a bit after I had a difficult internship experience (it was an all three meals eaten at your desk, never seeing the sun type of job) and I discovered that I needed a break before I took on the heavy workload of graduate school. After all, I don’t want to just survive my Ph.D. program—I want to excel. With that in mind, I view my gap year as a time to explore the world and gear up for graduate school. Wherever I end up, I’ll have industry-specific knowledge to draw upon in future work, and I’ll have the space and time to generate new research questions. I’m looking forward to what’s next! 4