Will Abele '20
First, economics at Pomona encapsulates so many interesting and distinct topics in one major, including economic theory, math, research, business and finance. Each of these aspects of the major interests me, and I have been fortunate to take at least one class in each. I have been able to apply much of what I have learned as an economics major to developing my professional career and research interests. Second, the economics faculty at Pomona is truly fantastic. As is true across the board at Pomona, the economics professors are extremely intelligent and are helpful in and out of the classroom. In addition to being prolific scholars and experts in their field, the faculty are kind and humble people who want to foster a learning environment as best they can. Third, I have made several friends in the Economics Department and have really enjoyed learning and working with such motivated, bright and collaborative students.
The above holds for this answer as well, but I’ll also add that economics is a useful subject to know, regardless of where your other interests lie. As mentioned above, Pomona economics touches several different fields, including health, politics, law, consulting, psychology, sports, etc., and the faculty does a wonderful job at merging these topics with economics to create an engaging and appealing experience for all students.
As a research assistant to Professor Pierangelo De Pace last year, I assisted him with his ongoing research project on the broad topic of empirical macroeconomics and finance. We specifically analyzed and identified the segments of U.S. fixed income markets that represent the initial developments of financial distress and their subsequent propagation across markets during the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09. We used statistical models to identify occurrences of unstable behavior, which are evidence not only of financial distress, but also of catalysts of turmoil across other markets. We found that six of the eight yield spreads exhibited mildly explosive behavior and that such behavior initiated first in short-term funding markets and eventually migrated to more volatile medium and long-term markets during 2007-09. Finally, we also concluded that the initial financial panic in 2007 that spread to other U.S. fixed income markets in our sample began with segments of the ABX market, specifically with the downfall of the synthetic market and its sub-prime residential mortgages. I thoroughly enjoyed my research with Professor De Pace. He is extremely intelligent and kind, and I was able to learn so much from him – about economics, research, and what goes into writing an economics paper. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have worked one-on-one with Professor De Pace in topics we are both extremely interested in.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to work with Professor W. Bowman Cutter in his Applied Econometrics class to write a research paper of my own, which examined how youth participation in high school sports affected youth antisocial (contrary to the laws and customs of society) behavior. After a semester of collecting data, conducting research, and running statistical tests, I was able to find conclusive evidence that participation in youth sports did in fact decrease youth antisocial behavior. Finding such conclusive results was certainly special, but I really enjoyed the entire process – learning how to do an academic economics research paper with Professor Cutter, who was beyond helpful throughout the entire process.
I am currently working in investment banking for my summer internship, and I have already found my economics classes at Pomona to be extremely helpful!
Anika Arvanitis ’20
I'll be honest: when I originally picked economics, it was because it had one less major requirement than geology, my second option. Looking back, I know it was the right choice. Studying economics has changed my perspective on almost everything: politics, television shows, natural disasters, water chemistry, the list goes on. My favorite aspect of economics is that it can be applied to so many different disciplines—economics is a way of thinking and a skillset. I'm planning on minoring in geology, and it's not difficult to look at geology through an economic lens, which in turn shapes how I learn and study geology. Last summer, I met my first 'economic geologist,' and, frankly, if I hadn't studied econ, I never would've guessed such a field existed.
Economics is such a versatile major. I know the skills I learn in this department will come in handy for the rest of my life, no matter what I decide to do. Last semester, I created a game theory model to show how states and the federal government choose their preparation and aid budgets in advance of a hurricane. That was the first experience I had with modeling anything, and while it got frustrating at times, the experience itself was wonderful because I was able to apply what I was learning in class to what I want to do after I graduate.
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to model making, but even the process of thinking through a system and figuring out how to convert it to math earned me a deeper understanding of hurricane preparation. I'm hoping I can do something similar, in methods if not topic, for my thesis.
Leisan Garifullina '20
I have always been interested in how humans make economic decisions given the constraints we face. I am specifically interested in how these decisions can affect communities we live in and the world as a whole. So, majoring in economics seemed like the best idea for someone like me. In addition to being very applicable to everyday life, this major allows me to directly impact communities with the organization I created with my economics knowledge. I always use the economics knowledge I get at Pomona College in my marketing activities, especially at the Unovator Junior Enterprise at The Claremont Colleges that I founded. I fell in love with the subject and the faculty from the very first economics class that I took in my first semester at Pomona College.
What I love about the Economics Department is the support I receive. I feel I can always stop by the office of my academic advisor, Professor Eleanor Brown. Her door is always open, and those times when I walked in to share my fears, happy moments, or doubts with Professor Brown have shown me that professors truly care about me as a person. Even during my study abroad and summers, Professor Brown and I kept in touch.
Department liaisons, who are students who also study economics, introduced me to the world where I can apply my economics knowledge. Before I declared my major, I did not know any of the big U.S. and international companies. During the events that were organized by the department, I learned that students interned and worked at Goldman Sachs, Accenture, BCG, Deloitte, etc. This allowed me to get to know the corporate world, to which I had never had access before. With this knowledge, I also got an internship at one of the "Big Four."
Equipped with the knowledge of how humans make decisions and act in the world full of economic constraints, I started the Junior Enterprise at The Claremont Colleges called Unovator. We provide marketing and public relations services to small companies all over the world. After we had our first client from Asia, I decided it was time to use my knowledge to help the business world in Asia too. With the help of the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) International, I interned at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore during the summer before my junior year. Inspired by this, I took a course in Behavioral Economics and I am planning to take an advanced course in Behavioral Economics during my senior year.
Valentina Jervis ’20
I really like numbers, and I also really like people and understanding our behavior as societal beings. Economics gives me both: it allows me to understand how our society works while using numbers in the process. Although it is a bit more complicated than that, economic theories actually try to simplify people’s behavior through numerical models, which I find fascinating and powerful.
Personally, I am interested in how we can use economics to incorporate sustainable development in our society. By providing the tools to model the potential of more environmentally responsible practices, economics can help us modify our behavior and ensure a sustainable, long-term growth as a society.
With economics there is no limit as to where one can get in their career path. From consulting to finance, to sustainable development; a major in economics will give you the foundations to follow whichever career path interests you the most.
When I first chose my major, I felt intimidated by all my fellow classmates who were already hired for consulting or banking jobs. Although I knew that was not where I wanted to be headed, I thought if I studied economics I needed to do something similar. However, as I started taking a few electives in the Econ Department and connecting with some of the faculty members, I realized there are many different fields within the major one can explore.
This summer I am working as a product intern for Inspectorio, a supply chain quality and compliance software startup based in Vietnam. I am currently spending my days in Ho Chi Minh City working alongside the product owner for one of Inspectorio’s main products: RISE. RISE provides a platform where stakeholders in the industry can create assessments verifying environmental and social compliance across their value chain. This might not seem like something too closely related to economics, but a big part of the product team’s job (and now my job) is to study the behavior of the market in order to create the most valuable product for the industry. In doing so, I have been able to identify ways in which technology can provide tools to connect my interest for economic theory and its application to sustainability. I am very excited to see where this learning experience takes me!
Bryan Diangson ’21
Economics is all about decisions and, for me, majoring in economics was an easy one. I love the fact that economics offers me a mix of quantitative analysis and qualitative thinking, while allowing me to work on meaningful projects that affect everyone in real time. This, along with the career versatility that economics offers, is why I chose to major in the field.
Our economics department is fantastic and filled with wonderful, caring, and brilliant professors. Though classes can be challenging at times, our department really strives to prepare students for anything that the world throws at them. This dedication to students is something that has been significant to my college experience.
I have been fortunate enough to take my economics major into the real world by interning at CBRE Global Investors this summer. So far, it has been such a rewarding experience. At CBRE GI, I spend my time working on different investments, across all of the asset classes, the fund strategies, and the risk-return spectrum. I have definitely been able to implement my economics knowledge while working, as the firm is always concerned with current and future macroeconomic trends.
Advice to incoming students: Even if you aren’t sure about economics or your passion lies elsewhere, I highly recommend taking at least Principles of Macroeconomics (Econ 51) course because it will give you a great foundation and help you in many aspects of your career and life!
Wesley Chang ’21
Economics at Pomona College is an extremely multidisciplinary major that emphasizes both analytical and mathematical thinking through examinations of micro and macro issues. With many of the courses in this major ranging from healthcare to entrepreneurship to corporate finance, I am able to go off into many different career paths such as banking, consulting, policy-making, research, healthcare and many more. I believe that this is a specialized major within the liberal arts education.
There are many chances for experimental learning in this major. Starting from the most basic microeconomic course, students are able to learn from market and behavioral experiments within the classroom. Continuing on to intermediate classes such as behavioral economics, accounting, or entrepreneurship classes, students continue to have community partnership opportunities learning and forming relationships with live experiments, professionals, and even neighboring businesses. Finally, at the upper level, students are able to form independent studies with professors, perhaps making investment portfolios with professors and researchers.
I have participated in an internship with CRCM Ventures, a venture capital firm where I have had the chance to practice my research, analytical and communication skills that I have developed through all of my courses and experiences with the economics department. For research, I have created pitch desks and market analysis for potential investments for the firm. For the analytical side, I have had the chance to build abstract models and representations of future financial situations and risks. For communication, I have had the chance to build my network through start-up events and interviews with potential investments.
The economics major, partnered with the Quantitative Skills Center (QSC), has developed an economics cohort program (Pomona Scholars of Math) to help foster a successful transition for first-year, first-generation/low-income students. This academic cohort features weekly group meetings with faculty and staff around the campus, peer mentors, individual and group advising sessions, and preselected cohort course selections. This cohort is a great way for students to find a fit in a STEM major early on in their college experience.
Payal Kachru ’21
Economics is a broad subject with focuses on business, finance, theory, research, and even math. Classes and electives have both made me see how truly interdisciplinary this subject can be.
I took an introductory class to Macroeconomics in my Spring semester of my freshman year to get an area requirement out of the way. However, when I got to learn the material, the theory, and its implications for real world, I realized that I truly enjoyed what I was learning. My professor at the time, Professor Goel, really influenced my desire to be an Economics major. She, and later other professors, really showed me how interdisciplinary economics can be. Any facet of an economy is sensitive to politics and human behaviors, and we can predict the outcomes of these actions by coupling big data with basic theory in the short and long-run. Not only is the major practical, but its breadth allows for anyone to view the world more holistically and flexibly allows one to also find their niche.
The faculty that I’ve had the pleasure learn and work with are some of the very people that made me feel like I belong at Pomona. While this department continues to push me to become better in my ability to analyze on both a micro and macro level, they’ve also taught me how to complement quantitative analysis with qualitative thought. Truly, the professors in this department make me want to go outside of my comfort zone and explore topics I wouldn’t have explored in a traditional classroom setting. Each professor has their own research and specific strengths across the field, and that allows me to explore all my options and hone skills across different areas.
This summer, I act as a research assistant to Professor Manisha Goel and Professor Michelle Zemel, where I am helping them study the real economic outcomes of demonetization practices that happened in India in 2016. The goal is to analyze the extent at which firms were able to overcome their credit constraints and how that was, or was not, translated to better firm performance and real macroeconomic outcomes, such as changes to employment, profits, and other factors that correspond the status of an economy. Collaborating with other researchers, we are looking at microdata of firms’ liabilities, profits, assets, and loaning activities. We then use this information to track and determine trends in the relationship between the amount of loans given out, interest rates, and generally what was done with an influx of capital that banks received upon demonetization. We’re hoping to analyze the impacts of this policy, as well as external actions performed by India’s central bank, to see what caused the overall net real outcomes of the Indian economy.
Simultaneously, I’m also a Finance and Marketing Intern over the summer, where my job primarily consists of analyzing census-level data to target a specific market audience for my firm’s estate planning financial services and other firm-specific services. With that data, another intern and myself will help initialize the branch’s marketing campaign that is specific to the local area and its clientele.
When I came to Pomona, the thought of even majoring in Economics never crossed my mind. I was lucky to take an introductory class with an amazing professor who made me passionate about the subject. I strongly encourage everyone to take introductory classes across multiple disciplines because you never know where your true passion may be! Also, I think an introductory economics course is a staple for everyone. Economics is a subject area that impacts everyone’s life, and to be able to have some sort of understanding, even on a macro level, is worth knowing about for now and for the future.