#BulldogOnTheJob: Sarah

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Sarah Novack
Major: Statistics and Actuarial Science
Minor: Economics
Grad Date: December 2014

Organization, Title, and brief Synopsis
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer. There are five branches of Peace Corps: Education, Health, Agriculture, Business Development, and Youth Development. We train for three months before being placed at a permanent site, where we will serve for two years. My primary assignment is Secondary Education for Math and Science. I am currently serving in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Zanizbar is a gorgeous island full of tropical beaches and spice farms. I teach math at the local secondary school. Along with my primary assignment, I have two secondary projects that occupy my time. I have an After School STEM CLUB (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). We have done many simple science projects to explain centripetal force, air pressure, and chemical reactions. Secondly, I teach a Community English Class. The high tourism rate makes English Speakers in high demand.

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Opportunities and classes that led to this role.
Two influences from UMD helped me choose Peace Corps after Graduation. My sophomore year I took a class called Cultural Diversity. This class opened my eyes to different types of diversity not only throughout the United States, but also throughout the world. Our professor was born and raised in Kenya (neighbor to Tanzania). He gave us a unique perspective, which I have carried with me to Tanzania. He taught us that diversity is more than the color of your skin. It is your religion, gender identity, and socioeconomic class. When I wasn’t in studying, I spent a lot of my time volunteering. I was a tutor at the Harbor City International School, a Volunteer Admissions Tour Guide, and a Rockstar! My UMD experience as a whole and my desire to travel the world influenced my decision to join Peace Corps.

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What do you wish you would have known before entering your role?
I wish I would have known that, just because there is a Job Title associated with your major, doesn’t mean you have to go into that profession. For many years, I wanted to be an Actuary. I was finishing up my degree in Actuarial Science, when I realized, that was the last thing I wanted to be. There are many things you can do with a college degree; you just have to find what you are passionate about. I started looking into other career options, and with the help of Career & Internship Services and a childhood dream, I decided to join the Peace Corps. People join Peace Corps for many reasons, and for me it has opened the door into international development.

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Career Advice for people wishing to enter your field.
Every Peace Corps experience is unique. I would recommend anyone looking into Peace Corps to talk to a wide variety of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Peace Corps will give you a ground view into a new world. I never would have thought I would wake up everyday and put on a hijab, but Peace Corps has given me this opportunity. Peace Corps Volunteers love talking about their experience. We love talking about cooking over our charcoal stoves, fetching water from a well, stumbling through our new language, and convincing the village you probably won’t be marring a local so you can stay. If you enjoy volunteering and working abroad, there is a place for you in Peace Corps!

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You can follow along with Sarah’s Peace Corps adventure on her Blog and Facebook Page.

Read other #BulldogOnTheJob stories!

Photo Source: Sarah

The Economics of an Economics Major

By: Christopher

It’s that time of year when many students have to decide what they are going to major in to prepare themselves for a career. Registering for classes may be a daunting task for those who aren’t quite sure on what they are majoring in or aren’t confident to think they’ve made the right choice. Rest assured that I may have found the answer for some of you: become an Economics major.

Economics comes from the Greek words ‘oikos,’ which means house, and ‘nomos,’ which means rule or law. In essence, it means the study of rules of the household. In the modern realm of economics, it has been expanded to include the household’s decision making processes, to sectors of an industry, to entire economies of the world. The profession seeks to derive order from a seemingly chaotic world of spontaneity to understand not only how the world works down to the individual but also to predict the future based on the patterns of the past.

Econ major

Skills
The field of economics requires students to understand and interpret complex issues while taking into account certain variables. Here is a list of skills and interests that are characteristic of an economic frame of mind:

Research and Analysis

  • Ability to generate ideas and develop them to their fullest extent
  • Applying statistical methods i.e. regression analysis
  • Testing those ideas to find truth

Data

  • Manipulating data to become useful
  • Developing budgets and projections to understand what the future may hold
  • Organizing data in a way that makes sense

Problem Solving

  • Understand a situation in order to define the problem and assess possible solutions
  • Evaluate effectiveness of policy
  • Transforming theory into the real world

Communication

  • Summarizing results
  • Presenting data in a concise and organized fashion

Naturally, the major will develop these interests you may have into skills that are valuable in the long run toward a career in different industries.

Career Opportunities
Because economics covers a wide range of skills, economics majors have very diverse career paths. This offers a wide range of options for someone that may feel more at home in the public sector rather than private or healthcare over banking. Here are some fields and positions within those fields that employ economics majors.

Business, Banking, and Finance: Securities Analyst, Operations Analyst, Trust Officer, Equity Trader, Hedge Fund Administrator, Cost Estimator, Investment Banker, Asset Manager, Financial Advisor

Economic Development: Regional/Urban Planner, Economic Development Coordinator, Public Utilities Manager, Redevelopment Specialist

Government: Economist, Public Affairs Specialist, Budget Analyst, Purchasing Agent, Program Manager

International Trade: Export Marketing Representative, International Sales, Export Sales Representative, Market Research Analyst, International Trade Specialist, International Business Development Manager, Shipping/Transport Clerk, Trade Finance Specialist, Export Credit Insurance Specialist

Public Policy: Program Analyst, Administrative Analyst, Government Relations Advisor, Policy Coordinator, Budget Analyst, Consultant, Public Sector, Trade Policy Analyst, Research Associate, Community Affairs Advisor

These sectors all demand people with the same skills an economics degree provides, yet for those that want to further their career within academia and also to expand their career opportunities,  graduate school can cater to those needs.

Although deciding on a career field may be a lot to think about, taking an introductory economics class can help your decision making process.

Of Possible Interest:
Career Planning in the Social Sciences
Economics at UMD
What UMD grads with Economics degrees are doing
Choosing a Major – all the posts on our blog on this topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Christopher’s other posts

Updated: June 2020