Fall 2017 Economics Newsletter

`In this issue:

News from the Economics Program

Jessica Zhao

Welcome to a new academic year from our Economics program here at Behrend: a B.A. in Economics (more traditionally associated with a liberal arts education) and a B.S. in Business Economics (the only business economics program in the Penn State system). Offering both programs provides a latitude of choices in which to take your economics education! The Economics programs boasts the great work of ERIE (Economic Research Institute of Erie) in the Black School of Business, which had its 14th Annual ERIE Conference in August, focusing on the impact of immigration on the local economy.

Hope you enjoyed your fall semester so far! A couple of highlights for our Economics major:

  • The Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE), as well as Penn State Behrend, are increasingly getting attention from the national media.
  • Our first Black School of Business Alumni Social Networking Event was held in Pittsburgh on October 17 at the Olive or Twist Martini Bar. About seventy-five Business alumni with four faculty attended the event.
  • Starting this fall, we are offering online sections for ECON courses, such as ECON 102 Microeconomic Analysis, ECON 302 Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis, and ECON 442 Managerial Economics.
  • We have formed a search committee for a fixed-term position.

A Message from Dr. Adzima

Kerry Adzima

I hope the first half of your semester has gone well. The chill in the air means that Thanksgiving break is just around the corner, a well-deserved break for all of you, I am sure!

I recently came across an article describing a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers on projected employment for recent college grads. I am happy to report that economics remains in the top ten of “most sought-after bachelor’s degrees” by employers. Now that you know there are jobs out there, you should start asking yourself, “How can I distinguish myself from the other economics graduates I will be competing with for my first job?” At Behrend there are many ways to do just that. Here’s a list of just a few:

  1. Start keeping a portfolio of the work you are doing in your classes. Any project or paper that requires you to analyze data in some way will be of particular interest to most employers looking for an economics major. 
  2. Talk to your professors about research opportunities. Specifically, ask Dr. Louie about research opportunities with the Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE). 
  3. Join the Society of Undergraduate Economics. 
  4. Consider writing and submitting a paper to the Undergraduate Research Conference held at Behrend every April. (There are cash prizes awarded to the best papers!)
  5. Consider doing an internship (during the school year or in the summer).
  6. For BECON majors, look into a double major with other business fields (finance and international business are particularly popular but all business fields serve as a good complement). There are also many majors that complement the ECNS degree such as math, political science, psychology, and communications. 
  7. Consider a minor or certificate.
  8. Talk to your ECON professors about graduate school. For many of the top students, there are opportunities for assistantships, which means you can get PAID to earn your graduate degree!

Keep in mind that it’s important to start thinking about these things early on in your college career. The sooner you start to think about what you want to do after graduation the better! 

Good luck with the rest of your semester.

—Dr. Adzima, associate professor of economics 

Alumni Spotlight

Dylan Rossi ’16, ’17 M.B.A.

Dylan Rossi

Business Economics Major
Minor in Management of Information Systems

Dylan Rossi graduated in 2016 with a major in Business Economics and a minor in Management Information Systems. Currently, he lives in Austin, Texas, working for a start-up company called OwnLocal as a data verification and fulfillment specialist.

What is your current position and what do you like best about it?

I am a data verification and fulfillment specialist at a start-up called OwnLocal in Austin, Texas. I love it because I get to work in a startup environment meaning that I have a lot of freedom as long as I get my work done. Unlimited vacation, work when I want, and I can work from home. This allows me to "make a living" and still have time to have fun and enjoy my life. 

What would you tell your college self if you could go back in time?

Do the extra work and dual-major. I started as a software engineering major for my first two years at Behrend and then switched to Business Economics. I still coded and took online courses for software just because I still wanted to be able to create stuff and it interested me greatly, but it is hard to prove to these companies that you have such skills if you don't have the degree to show for it. Luckily, my Management Information Systems minor helped out a bit to at least give the chance to show that I do have software/computers skills along with econometric and statistical skills to analyze data. Usually, when people see any business major they seem to get the feeling that, that is all someone knows and hasn't branched out. If I had the Software Engineering bachelor's as well, it would have been a lot easier to prove my skillset.

What advice do you have for students who are getting ready for the working-world?

As all ECON students should know, we all face scarcity, time is the one thing we can never get back. If you want something, go for it, say what you want to say, do what you want to do. I think once I was finished with my first semester of grad school I realized that. A lot of people don't realize that they need to do what they want to be happy way too late in life and they end up with a bunch of regrets. Take chances, that's how I ended up where I am and I am happier because of it. I always wanted to move to Austin, (I was sick of seeing snow after living five years in Erie...) but none of the companies I was applying to would even contact me back and if they did, it was to reject me. I was offered a really good job in Washington, D.C., but it wasn't where I wanted to be and I knew I wasn't going to be happy there. I turned it down with no plan B. The next month I packed up my little VW Jetta and left home and went to Austin without a job and was willing to just wing it. The day I got down there, I got an email from Facebook about an interview...I did not get the position, but the fact that the day I got down there and had that waiting for me gave me encouragement. Within the next couple weeks, I started my job at OwnLocal. That is my advice to all students about to graduate. Just go for it, who cares what happens as long as you're happy. More specifically for ECON students, don't stop learning. Broaden your skillset, take extra courses online (I recommend Udemy and edX). Use these resources to learn software programs like R, Python, and Machine Learning. I know we used EViews in some classes, but R and Python are what companies are looking for when working with data. Machine Learning is just the cherry on top. It also doesn't hurt to learn SQL (use Codecademy). We live in a technological world and if you don't know how to operate certain software or work with a certain language, you will be passed over for someone who does. 

Do you feel like your Business Economics and MBA pathway was a good preparation for the working-world?

For the most part yes. When I look at data in a spreadsheet, I am able to decipher it faster and better than anyone else it seems. I can attribute that to my degrees and more so working at ERIE. The MBA really helped me learn to speak up. Dr. Brown's negotiation course gave me the knowledge of how to speak up to a "superior" and get things I want. "The worst they can do is say no."

What made you decide to pursue Business Economics and the MBA path?

My first economics course with Travis Yates, lecturer in economics, really opened my eyes to the world of economics and how it applies to pretty much everything in our daily lives. It turned out I was pretty good at it, mostly because I really enjoyed math. I contemplated dual-majoring in Software Engineering and Economics, but figured it'd be too much work. I chose BECON over ECON because I didn't want to take a foreign language. As far as the MBA goes, I wanted that well before I even started my undergraduate studies. I planned on getting that all along, working at ERIE simply streamlined the process and I got it earlier than I expected.

Are you satisfied with your academic background or do you wish you could something about it?

I just sometimes wish I got my Software Engineering degree as well. Who knows, I might go to UT down here and get it. I can't seem to escape the academic world. I am really happy with my master’s because it allows me to pursue my other dream of becoming an NFL agent. I take my exam next year and hopefully will get certified to start representing some teams.

Student Spotlights

Marissa Baker ’17

Marissa Baker

Minor in Management Information Systems
Graduate Research Assistant at ERIE

Marissa Baker, a local of Erie, is a graduate student in Penn State Behrend’s MBA Program. Marissa is a Behrend alumni, and she is also working as the graduate research assistant for the Economic Research Institute of Erie. She plans to graduate with her MBA in the spring of 2018.

What did you study as an undergraduate student, and what or who influenced you to choose that degree?

As an undergraduate student, I double majored in Math and Management Information Systems. Growing up, I had always had a passion for math and learning new things. In my junior year, I decided to also major in MIS because I learned about the new courses being offered at Behrend that focused on data analytics. Therefore, I could further build upon the knowledge I had acquired in my math and statistics courses. I also felt that a double major would make me more marketable to employers.

I was hired as an undergraduate research assistant for ERIE over two years ago. I am very thankful to Dr. Louie for giving me this opportunity, which has allowed me to apply skills that I’ve learned in my undergraduate coursework to real life projects using economic data. 

What was your favorite class or the most helpful class you took as an undergrad?

My favorite class was Econometrics/Regression Analysis, which has helped in conducting research projects at ERIE. Another helpful class that I took was Database Management (MIS 336). SQL skills are very valuable for all business majors.

What are your goals after you graduate?

Right now, I am exploring different career paths. Earning an MBA I feel has made me well-rounded, and it has provided me with a holistic business education. I hope to land a position that I am very passionate about and continue to learn new skills that I can add to my repertoire. Also, my plans may include furthering my education by getting another master’s degree or other designations.

Biggest difference between undergrad and graduate education?

My undergraduate education provided a solid foundation and helped to make the transition to graduate level studies. I am completing the Behrend MBA program in one year so I am working at a very accelerated pace, which is probably the biggest difference. Graduate studies also require you to be very self-motivated and work at an efficient pace. 

Natalie Szalajko ’18

Natalie S

Natalie is a current student from South Bend, Indiana, who is studying abroad in Siena, Italy. She departed on August 26 and will be returning November 27. She is a Business Economics and Finance major scheduled to graduate in May 2018. 

Where are you studying?

Siena, Italy, which is in Tuscany.

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class is my Italian Language Class!

What have you learned outside of the classroom?

I have learned to be much more comfortable with making mistakes. I can't tell you how many times I have repeatedly done something, just to find out two weeks later that it was completely wrong. I have also learned to have a greater appreciation for the quality and tradition of the goods I buy. Last but certainly not least, I have learned to greatly appreciate the Italian espresso.

Have you been able to do anything fun?

Absolutely. I went on a ten-mile hike across the Tuscan countryside, visited Naples and explored Pompeii, and swam in a sea for the first time. I go see the Siena soccer team play when they have home games; I attend local festivals; and I have toured multiple factories, wineries, and museums.

What is the student atmosphere like? Are you the only Penn State student?

Twelve other students study with me in Siena, and they are like my family. We have family dinners, we study together and travel together, and in my case live together, too, since I share an apartment with four other girls. I am the only Penn State student on the trip, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. While our group is small the student population in Siena is not. My program is partnered with the University of Siena, which has just shy of 16,000 students, so we enjoy having a close knit group with the amenities of a large university.

Has your undergraduate education at Behrend helped you in your studies?

Absolutely, many of the business concepts presented to us in class are ones I have previously seen. The main difference in my classes here is the application of those concepts, we focus specifically on the food and wine industry of Tuscany and Italy.

Economic Research Institute of Erie


This past summer the Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE) in the Black School of Business had their 14th Conference with the topic of focus being the future of manufacturing and implications for Erie.

The Conference provided:

  • A summary of important recent trends in the Erie economy, including a specified background on manufacturing trends.
  • Welcome messages from Chancellor Dr. Ralph Ford, and the director of the Black School of Business, Dr. Greg Filbeck.
  • An overview of the resources, challenges, successes, and strategies of adapting to the evolution of manufacturing.
  • Reflections on manufacturing experiences from the perspective of successful, local manufacturing business owners.
  • Perspectives on manufacturing in academia which included speeches from Dr. Diane Parente, professor of management, Dr. Greg Dillon, professor of engineering, and Dr. Dipo Onipede, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

*The keynote speaker for the event was Mr. Jay Douglass, chief operating officer for the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Additionally, ERIE released the 25th edition of the Erie Leading Index this fall.

ERIE also may be embarking on some interesting research grant projects utilizing ArcGIS and R statistical software in the future, so make sure to check out the website and sign up for the newsletter!

ERIE publications such as ELI (Erie Leading Index), Latest Erie Data, and the ERIE Guide to the Erie Economy, 14th ERIE Conference can be found at the ERIE website.



Spring Business Trip

This spring, SUE’s annual business trip will be taking place in Chicago! We have an exciting line-up of destinations this year, including: Morningstar, Chicago Board of Options Trade, BDO, Edelmans, Dunamis Partners, and JP Morgan. We also have arranged a dinner with Penn State alumni where current students will be able to gain valuable information. All majors are welcome! Keep an eye out for flyers with more information at the end of the semester.

Spring Business Trip

Big Bang Education

Rev. Charles Brock

Big Bang Education

SUE is very proud to have held its first major event in October, which was sponsoring a speaking event by Rev. Charles Brock, a lecturer in political science at Penn State Behrend. Brock has a background in industrial management from Carnegie Mellon and has earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Letters degrees from Harvard and Oxford University, respectively. Brock supplied students with a different perspective on how current-day post-secondary education can be utilized to benefit the world.

Black School of Business Social Networking Event in Pittsburgh

This networking event was the first of its nature for the Black School of Business, but they hope to continue this gathering annual. Below are Economics alumni who attended the event with Black School of Business director Dr. Greg Filbeck. 

Econ Social Networking Event in Pittsburgh

Society of Undergraduate Economists – SUE


Please watch your emails, look around campus and check out the SUE profile page to see when you can attend some of our events!

New SUE Officers

President: Mike Tyndall
Mike Tyndall is a senior duel-majoring in Business Economics and Finance, as well as pursuing a minor in Accounting.

Vice President: Lily Hu
Lily Hu is a sophomore duel-majoring in Economics and Marketing, she plans to attend University Park in fall 2018.

Treasurer: Jared Anderson
Jared Anderson is a sophomore majoring in Political Science with a minor in Economics. 

Secretary: Stephen Hiles
Stephen Hiles is a junior majoring in Economics.

Society of Undergraduate Economists Meeting times:
SUE meets every last Tuesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in 207 Burke.