Our most recent entry into the 'Future of Economics' series comes to us from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. We had the good fortune of speaking to a member of the Class of 2016, Billy Daly, who is majoring in Environmental Studies and Economics. Billy told us all about why Goucher turned out to be such a great choice for him personally and how the Economics department has positively affected his experience. Here's what he had to say:
What influenced you to pursue a career in Economics?
I was fortunate enough to take an Economics course in high school and quickly found that the material really clicked in my head. This early exposure to Econ, albeit a brief one, seemed to validate the way I saw the world. It wasn’t until I had my first Econ class in college, however, and met the wonderful faculty here at Goucher, that I was truly convinced to board the Econ Train.
Why should other students consider a focus in Economics?
Economics takes the decisions we all make on a daily basis--decisions we take for granted, such as “Do I buy an extra gallon of milk or a carton of eggs? Do I splurge on a piece of chocolate cake or substitute it with some fruit?”--and it gives them a name, describes the process behind them, and explains the conditions that influence their outcome. As Steven Levitt puts it, Economics is the study of incentives; what they are, how we follow them, and who shapes them. All students should take at least one Economics course during their time in college if only for the mindset that it helps them adopt, a mindset that takes the apparent randomness of life and imbues it with order, reason, and predictability.
What has been your experience with the Econ program at your school?
Nothing short of phenomenal. Despite (or because of) the relatively small size of our department there is a tremendous sense of community among the faculty, and that closeness is felt among the students as well. Many of the conversations that begin in the classroom continue outside of it as well, both with students and professors. My favorite example of this was one Friday at the end of this past semester, in which Gina, Lydia, and I talked for two hours in the hallway of our science building about everything from the theoretical foundations of Economics to modern critiques of its principles.
Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?
I haven’t had any formal internships yet, but I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a research project last summer with a Goucher Economics Professor, Gina Shamshak, in which we tested the economic viability of growing lettuce hydroponically (without the use of soil) by constructing our own hydroponic system and selling the lettuce produced within it to the college’s food service provider, Bon Appetit.
Please share an interesting or little-known fact you've learned about the world of Economics…
I’m not sure this could be considered little-known, but I find it pretty interesting: Lydia Harris explained to our Intermediate Micro class that the term “dismal science,” in relation to Economics, was coined by the historian Thomas Carlyle in his critiques of Thomas Malthus’s writings on scarcity and population growth.
What are your future aspirations and career plans?
Despite having an educational foundation rooted in the rather pragmatic field of Economics, my ideal career path consists of finding a couple of young entrepreneurs with an idea that I can get behind, a mission I can believe in, and a business model I can improve upon, and helping them start something that matters. If that means I have to sleep on a few couches and limit my grocery shopping to rice and beans for a few months (or years) to make it happen, all the better. Unrealistic? Perhaps. Optimistic? Absolutely. Impractical? Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I cannot give enough praise to the Economics Department here at Goucher. I truly believe that if every student had the opportunity to take at least one class with Gina, Jack, or Lydia, we’d easily have twice the number of majors in the department --which upon further reflection, probably wouldn’t be the best outcome given the reduction in one-on-one time with the professors it would mean for all of the die-hard Econ students.