Fall 2018 Economics Newsletter

In This Issue:


Message from the Department Faculty Chair

Dr. Kerry Adzima

As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun; so I guess it’s not that hard to believe we are almost at the end the fall 2018 semester! I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome all the new students who joined us at Behrend this year and to welcome back those who are entering their sophomore, junior, or senior years. As you continue working your way through those projects, presentations, homework problems, and other important assignments this semester, I’d like you to think about the skills you are gaining in the process. Economics majors learn to gather, organize, and interpret data, using mathematical formulas and statistics to make calculations. They also create models to predict the impact of investments, industry trends, policy decisions, demographics, and much more. In addition to analyzing problems and proposing solutions, economics majors also must acquire solid communication skills. Individuals working in economics must be able to translate their complex findings into a format that business leaders, legislators, and everyday people can understand. Please continue reading to learn more about the success of some of our recent grads and to see what’s been going on with the economics major here at Behrend.

—Dr. Kerry Adzima, Associate Professor of Economics

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Zachary Klingensmith, Assistant Teaching Professor of Economics

Zachary Klingensmith

Dr. Klingensmith is the newest member of the Black School of Business economics department. He spent three years in Behrend’s math department, and is making the transition to the economics department.

Here is a note from Dr. Klingensmith:

"While I enjoyed my three years in the math department, I am also happy to move to the Black School of Business. While in the math department, I got some great insight into some of the struggles students have with math, and it is my hope to bring some of that quantitative problem-solving to my economics classes. My favorite courses to teach are the introductory classes, as they gives me a chance to try to engage students. Many students have no economics background coming into my class, so it is fun to try to expose them to the fact that economics is all around them. To accomplish that, I make it my goal to include a clip from a movie, television show, or a news report into almost every class.

"I also am excited to both continue my own personal research in addition to working with Dr. Ken Louie, associate professor of economics, and the Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE). Currently I am working on a revision of the ERIE Guide to the Erie Economy and we are planning to update the website as well. My own personal research currently deals with pork-barrel spending, which is federal appropriation that is used for highly-localized projects. These types of projects are typically viewed as very wasteful, but they are also very popular amongst politicians because of their high visibility.

"I earned a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Washington and Jefferson College in addition to my Ph.D. in economics from West Virginia University with a focus on both public economics and urban/regional economics. I live in Millcreek Township with my wife, Nicole, my one and a half-year-old son, Alex, and our two dogs, Oliver and Bernadette."

Student Spotlight

Austin Johnson

Austin Johnson ’20

Austin Johnson, is a junior Business Economics major currently trying to pursue a minor in Statistics and a certificate in Actuarial Mathematics.

Why did you choose Business Economics?

I chose Business Economics as my major because I had an awesome professor who made me very passionate about the importance of economics in everyday life. I became so interested in how economics functions in the business realm and acts as the glue to all majors, but the reason I chose Business Economics preferably is my preference of numbers over theory.

What internships or research have you participated in?

I have had a few internships and research opportunities arise in the recent years. I am working currently in collaboration with Mercyhurst University and the surrounding campuses on a research project to help local businesses collect data about the market and build profiles for individual companies. This has required me to use techniques I have picked up in classes and utilize terminology I have learned through my other business classes. In addition, I have an internship with my prior university, Victoria College, providing assistance with any business-related questions that they might require and applying my curriculum in the real world. These include anything from advanced analytical techniques to simple accounting questions, and thankfully my major allows me to acquire a broad education and answer all of these questions.

What has been your favorite Econ class?

I am currently in two classes that I would say are my favorite and would recommend for anyone trying to expand their economics portfolio. These classes are Econ 485 Econometrics and Econ 497 Economics and Law. These are two very diverse fields. They help to diversity a curriculum, expand beyond one’s comfort zone, and discover other great fields. Econometrics is the mixture of economics and statistics, which I believe is a powerful combination if performed correctly. In addition, I enjoy Econ and Law because it interprets laws on everyday life and business and relates them to economics to provide a deeper understanding of why we have these laws.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I see myself working with a well-known company trying to get a grasp on real-world applications and perhaps trying to work for the government down the road implementing policies that will help people and better our economy overall—hopefully with other colleagues who show interest in this field as well.

Alumni Spotlights

Mike Tyndall ’18

Mike Tyndall

Mike graduated in May 2018 from Penn State Behrend. Over the summer of 2018, Mike interned for KPMG in their Mergers and Acquisitions (tax) department in the Boston, Massachusetts, office.

Here is what Mike has to say:

"My internship with KPMG was amazing! The M&A function serves three main purposes—due diligence, restructuring, and 100-day plans. So, essentially, a client would tell us they wanted to acquire a target, and our role would be to find all of the tax consequences/benefits of the potential transaction, determine the best and most efficient way to integrate the target into the acquirers’ existing structure, and then give financial advice post-transaction. It was very interesting work, but often times extremely complex. Needless to say, I was out of my element a little bit since this was my first M&A experience, but the KPMG family was extremely helpful and caring about showing me the tricks of the trade. Aside from financial statement and tax return analyses, a lot of these deals involved deciphering tax law and how it applied to a particular situation. Every deal was different, so there was a constant, albeit friendly, expectation to be extremely well-read. With that being said, I think the hardest part was that I had to not only perform like an accountant, but also teach myself to think and read like a lawyer. It was challenging work, which I really enjoyed, and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work for such a great firm."

Mike has returned to Penn State Behrend to pursue his Master of Professional Accounting degree. We asked Mike what made him return to Behrend for continuing education and he said, “Throughout my different professional experiences, I have learned that I am just happier in an accounting role right now – not that I still don’t love economics or finance though! I decided that pursuing a master’s degree in accounting would help solidify my ability to continue staying in accounting roles, expand my knowledge since I only have an accounting minor, and bolster my chances at passing the CPA exam (helps with the educational requirements, too). Behrend’s MPAcc program was an excellent choice for this since it checks all those boxes. Additionally, Behrend’s accounting (and business) professors are extremely good at what they do, which is what I admire the most about Behrend. I knew that choosing Behrend’s program would give me access to a challenging curriculum and professors who genuinely care about their students succeeding and improving.”

Mike says that his undergraduate education prepared him for his internship by giving him the ability to know when he needed to ask for help. He is a firm believer that Penn State Behrend’s program is very intensive and of high quality, but that it is hard to replicate the complexities of a real-world situation in the classroom. He says:

"Penn State Behrend instills a skill set to students on how to research and solve problems on their own when needed, which is extremely valuable in a fast-paced environment. As such, I felt comfortable getting put on any projects that were given to me, but I also knew when, and how, to effectively communicate that something didn’t quite make sense. More importantly, it’s easy to ask questions when you don’t know what’s going on, but it’s difficult to know what to ask so you can build upon what you already know and grow as a professional. Behrend has given me a very strong foundation in all three of my disciplines, but there is always room for improvement, so it’s good to know where you are at and how to take your capabilities to the next level. In my mind, the only way to do that is to be able to recognize not only what you should know at a certain point in your career, but also what no one really expects you to know. Nonetheless, I got a lot of firsthand knowledge from some amazingly talented professionals, which is priceless."

Mike has accepted a full-time offer with KPMG. After his MPAcc program, he will be relocating to Boston. We wish Mike much success!

Marissa Baker ’17 ’18 M.B.A.

Marissa Baker

Prior to graduating from the MBA program at Behrend, Marissa Baker was determined to accept a full-time position. She started sending her resume out and applying for positions during the academic year, totaling forty-five applications. Toward the end on the spring 2018 semester, Marissa started hearing back from multiple companies and setting up interviews. She had a very successful interview with IGS Energy in Columbus, Ohio, for a full-time rotation analyst position, which she accepted.

Marissa said that attaining her MBA from Behrend helped her acquire the position she currently holds. “Employers are not only looking for a technical background, but companies want to know that you can lead and think on a higher level to focus on big picture objectives. Completing the MBA program has allowed me to foster these interpersonal skills, including leadership and strategic thinking.”

When asked what she misses most about her Behrend experience she said, “I miss the faculty, staff, and students the most after leaving Behrend. The small class sizes that are offered at Behrend allow for opportunities to interact more and build relationships with professors.”

Marissa’s advice to current undergraduate and graduate students:

"Always be persistent and consistent with filling out job applications. Make sure you post your resume and are active on career social networking sites, mainly LinkedIn and Indeed.com. In my experience, recruiters looking for May graduates and start reaching out to potential candidates beginning in February or March. Also, make sure to enable the settings to be open to relocation."

Updates and Events

News about the Economics Major

We welcomed our newest faculty member, Dr. Zachary Klingensmith, assistant teaching professor of economics, to the team. The economics department is excited to see what Dr. Klingensmith brings to our students. He is currently teaching sections of introductory microeconomics, a required class that is taken mostly by first-year and sophomore economics majors as well as all other business students.

Meet the Officers of the Society of Undergraduate Economists

Hannah Carlino

Hannah Carlino, president and junior Business Economics and Marketing major

Stephen Hiles

Stephen Hiles, vice president and senior Business Economics and Finance major

Lukas Shore

Lukas Shore, secretary and junior Economics major, Marketing minor

Kyle Kaliszewski

Kyle Kaliszewski, treasurer and senior Finance major, Economics minor

Information about the Society of Undergraduate Economists (SUE)

SUE is the Black School of Business’ economics major-related organization for all interested students. SUE is the sponsoring club for the annual Spring Student Business Trip.

Society of Undergraduate Economists (SUE) in Chicago

Last March, forty students, along with faculty advisers, traveled to Chicago to meet with various well-known firms and visit destinations to gain an educational experience in a real business-world setting. The students had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with executives, recruiters, and industry leaders from business such as Morning Star and Bank of America. Faculty led students to the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade where they saw execution of trades in real time. The photo above shows some of our business economics students and faculty member Travis Yates, lecturer in economics, standing to the far right front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The picture below captures all forty students at Bank of America.

Annual Business Trip Group Photo

In March 2019, forty students and five faculty will travel to New York City for the annual Business Trip. This SUE-sponsored trip to New York City has a goal of educating students on various aspects of business by attending guided tours and informational sessions with top-name companies in NYC. This four day trip will consist of visiting the following businesses: Bloomberg, Ernst & Young, Bank of America, the American Stock Exchange (AMEX), UBS (an investment banking company), PIMCO, and two marketing and PR firms. This trip is also the destination of the annual alumni dinner, where we invite ten-plus alumni to speak to students about their career advancements and interests.

SUE held a guest speaker event in late September, inviting two co-owners of Olympia Technologies to speak about their business endeavors. Olympia Technologies’ mission is, “We are a collaboration of business, engineer, and scientific minds working together to create innovative software today for a more efficient tomorrow.” The event was titled “Young Entrepreneurialism: Two Recent Grads and Their Startup.” This start-up came to fruition through a senior design class at Gannon University while the members were in college. Students were able to listen to the successes and challenges of running a start-up. At the end of the presentation, students spent time asking questions and speaking one-on-one with the co-owners. It was a great experience for students to experience the real-life challenges and payoffs of starting a business early in their professional careers.

Society of Undergraduate Economists (SUE) Guest Speaker