While the Economics Department at Mines may be very small in size, graduates’ career paths cover a wide variety of industries and applications. Four recent Economics graduates returned to campus last week to discuss economics-related career opportunities, the courses that they found to be most useful in the workforce, and the unique value of obtaining a non-engineering degree from a school filled with engineers.
“I thought I wanted to be an engineer,” recalled Nick Van Gundy, who graduated in 2013 with a B.S in Economics and M.S in Mineral and Energy Economics. “Then I took Physics and Chemistry and decided that I didn’t want to be an engineer anymore.”
Van Gundy is now a Senior Quantitative Analyst at Source Gas, a company that sells natural gas to households. In addition to modeling demand and price for the company, he also manages some of the budget and financial operations.
“My company liked that I’m not an engineer but I speak engineer,” contends Ana Ochoa, who currently works as a Contract Surety Writer for Liberty Mutual Surety. Ochoa graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Economics and frequently communicates with construction contractors to evaluate investment stability.
“Initially, the Mines name really made me stick out,” she shares.
While a number of economics graduates end up working in the private sector, 2013 graduate Lisa Martinez Templeton found rewarding work at the Office of Economic Development at the City and County of Denver. She is currently working in a team of four to develop further data connections between government aid programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and disability.
“I have a team of data analysts that work under me,” Martinez Templeton explains. “I had no idea when I was in school that I would be doing what I am now.”
Overwhelmingly, the graduates have found computer programming and data analysis classes to be the most valuable in the work force, but also recognize the distinction provided by a strong math and science background.
“Not only is it the math that drives everything, but it is that overarching conceptual framework that we use to solve problems,” expresses Martinez Templeton.
Because Mines is such an academically challenging school, several of the speakers mentioned that the learning curve also becomes incredibly apparent in the work force.
“One of the things that you get really good at here is learning things fast,” says Jim Soiland, who graduated in 2011 and now works at Square Two Financial. “
The graduates also highly recommended the Mineral and Energy Economics M.S. program, in which students study the interactions between markets, policy, and the mineral and energy industries.
“There are not a lot of schools where you can learn that,” Van Gundy commented about the unique focus of the master’s program.
After spending some time in industry, the graduates additionally shared lots of advice on being successful in the workforce and finding the appropriate career fit.
“Keep in mind other factors, not just the paycheck,” advised Soiland. “The environment that you are in will make a big difference.”
Ochoa, who has enjoyed interacting with construction contractors and now has several years of involvement in the field, suggests picking an industry and using that to gain experience.
“Really, it is all about where you want to go and how you see yourself,” concluded Van Gundy.
Above: Alumni Nicholas Van Gundy, Lisa Martinez Templeton, Ana Ochoa and Jim Soiland all come back to speak about their experiiences in the field with an Economics Degree.