Stamford students in ECON 2411 “Money and Banking” class taught by Dr. Smirnova were treated to a special guest visit on February 14, 2023. UConn Stamford Economics alumna, Viviana Castillo, CLAS ’20, who is Principal Finance Analyst at GlobalFoundries shared her wisdom about building knowledge base and career-relevant skills while in college, about finding a job upon graduation, about graduate school, and about current job market in the intersection of economics, finance, and tech.
While at UConn Stamford, Viviana worked in the banking industry, but she managed her time well, which allowed her to participate in the College Fed Challenge competition in 2019 as Stamford team member. She graduated in the midst of the pandemic in the Spring 2020, but did not slow down and entered graduate school at Columbia University. She continued working in the banking industry, gaining experience. After graduating with a Masters in Risk Management degree, she moved to a more interesting job in FinTech.
Viviana Castillo shared with students her approach to gaining new skills in order to prepare for demands of ever-evolving job market. She encouraged students to become career ready. In addition to content knowledge in their academic fields, students need to develop career competencies that are in high demand in the workplace, such as critical thinking, communication, and professionalism.
Students asked a lot of questions, shared their anxieties, and were grateful for Viviana’s effort to meet with them. Business leaders’ and young alumni’s visits to ongoing classes are an exciting way to connect our students to the world outside the academy and prepare them for careers upon graduation.
On February 23, 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hosted the annual Women in Economics Symposium. This year the theme was “Role Models Matter”. The agenda included notable women-economists, who shared their love of economics, their research, and their wisdom about how to build and navigate a career path in economics.
The symposium was held in a hybrid format, in which the in-person conference in St. Louis was combined with Watch Parties across the country. Professor Natalia Smirnova arranged for the Economics Department to hold two Watch Parties, in Storrs and in Stamford.
In Stamford, the symposium was designated as the Honors Program event, and they provided pizza and other snacks. Honors Program Assistant Director, Ms. Heenehan, helped with all the logistics during the preparation stage. Economics Professor, Dr. Patricia Ritter hosted the event. Nearly 20 students from political science, economics, and business attended the symposium. We thank Political Science Professor, Dr. Ginsberg for promoting the conference in her classes.
In Storrs, the organization of the Watch Party was done by Women and Minorities in Economics Club. This Club’s activities include speaker series and various events focusing on promoting fruitful discussion about women and minorities’ issues among Economics majors.
At the 2023 Women in Economics Symposium, students heard from exciting role models with fascinating careers in economics while also learning some practical tips about job searching, finding a mentor, and more. As we aspire to develop in our students the career readiness competencies, an exposure to national leaders in economics profession allows students to navigate career opportunities, network to build relationships, and clearly and effectively exchange information and perspectives with persons inside and outside of their home campus. These skills are transferable to students’ post-graduation career and will help them showcase their professionalism during job search and interview processes.
Mr. Peter Becket, a proprietor of Becket Business Appraisals, LLC visited the ECON 3413 Financial Economics class at Stamford on September 15, 2022. In this course, students learn company valuation techniques and apply those to a selected publicly traded company.
Mr. Becket has been an appraiser of privately owned businesses for over 40 years. So, his presentation gave students a real-world view of how he goes about valuing businesses that are not publicly traded.
Peter’s very engaging and interactive presentation showed how financial statements analysis and discounted future cash flow methodology are used in evaluating financial prospects of a closely held companies. Students learnt many nuances of appraisal business, which are not covered in the textbook. Peter shared several publications that present data of financial ratios, for example, which could be consulted for a benchmark analysis. He also explained his proprietary methodology for company valuation. Students were able to ask questions about the business and seek Peter’s advice about their career aspirations.
Mr. Becket encouraged students to invest in their learning, join professional associations, and start their careers working for someone else before venturing on their own if they decide to start their own professional practice. His talk connected the textbook material to the real-world appraisal business.
Dr. Smirnova, who is the instructor in this class, and the students are grateful to Mr. Becket for his time and invaluable wisdom, suggestions, and encouragement. The talk was very fun, as well.
On September 15, 2022, there was a buzz around the Rich Concourse at the Stamford campus. Various academic fields, representing majors and minors offered at UConn Stamford, were showcased. The Economics Department was represented by students majoring in Economics with Professor Smirnova in attendance as well.
Students also shared various career readiness events that they have attended on campus and competencies that they have developed in Dr. Smirnova’s classes. Business community leaders’ visits, career panels, Career Development Center professionals’ presentations, and other events – all of these, in students’ view, contribute to the satisfaction with the Economics major at Stamford.
MSQE Program alumni Claudia Rodriguez (MSQE December 2019) and Jonathan Gonzalez (MSQE December 2019) participated in a virtual MSQE Alumni Networking Panel on April 29th.
Claudia currently works at Moody’s Investor Service, as a Structured Finance Associate Analyst, where she works on the Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities team, and the Collateralized Loan Obligations team.
Jonathan currently works for a Connecticut Non-Profit advocacy group. He is currently providing data analytics research support for advocacy of Connecticut Senate Bill 842 An Act Concerning Health Insurance and Health Care in Connecticut.
They spoke highly of their MSQE training in Python, and R, the value of networking and recommended applying for summer internships. In conversation about deadlines, it was mentioned that in industry meeting deadlines is crucial, not like class deadlines where professors’ give extensions.
Two alumni of the MSQE Program participated in a virtual MSQE Alumni Networking Panel on March 18th:
Louis Booth: MSQE Dec 2018
John Rolfe: MSQE Dec 2019
Louis currently works at Travelers, as a Consultant Analytics and Research Development, where he is on the Advanced Tools and Technologies Team. John currently works at Spreetail as a Demand Planner where he does demand forecasting.
They spoke highly of their MSQE training in Python, R, and Tableau, and gave several examples of how they use these skills in their current positions.
On Thursday, February 25th, 2021, UConn Stamford students were treated to a special discussion “Diverse Journeys: Social Sciences Alumni Career Panel” featuring UConn Stamford alumni of color who majored in social sciences and now work in a variety of interesting and diverse careers.
The panelists were:
Daniel Caceres ’14 (CLAS), Real Estate Agent, YB Realty.
Saif Syed ’16 (CLAS), Investment Banking Associate, Goldman Sachs.
Andrea Lopez ’14 (CLAS), Research Associate, Teachers College, Columbia University.
The participants shared candid insights and perspectives about job search and navigating the workplace as a person of color. Panelists also provided perspectives on how their educational experiences at UConn Stamford shaped their career journeys and put them on the path to success.
This event was organized by UConn Stamford — Department of Economics, Department of Political Science, the Center for Career Development, and the Honors Program in partnership with the UConn Foundation.
The recording of the event can be watched using this link.
Every year, the Economics Department hosts the professional development workshop for high school teachers of economics who are part of the UConn Early College Experience (ECE) Program. This program provides opportunities for high school students to take a UCONN course for credit at their high school. The teachers who offer such a course attend the annual workshop and are certified by the Department. Dr. Smirnova is a new coordinator for the ECE Economics program.
On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 29 teachers from all over the State of Connecticut attended a virtual professional development workshop organized by Dr. Smirnova, the Department of Economics, and the Office of Early College Programs. The agenda was packed with useful and up-to-date information that could be used in the classroom right away.
Dr. Diego Mendez-Carbajo, Senior Economic Education Specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented a talk “Remote Active Learning with FRED Interactives”, which demonstrated new approaches of using the FRED database for teaching various topics.
Dr. Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis talked about “Teaching New Tools of Monetary Policy”, which presented the up-to-date information about monetary policy tools that have changed substantially in the past couple of years and especially since August 20202. Dr. Wolla showed various resources that could be used in teaching and studying Macroeconomics and Money and Banking.
Dr. Carlos J. Asarta, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware presented his new research “Teaching Digitally-Minded Students during the Pandemic and Beyond”. The data collected by Dr. Asarta indicates that the profession has not yet successfully pivoted to using engaging strategies in teaching and, therefore, there are challenges in recruiting and retaining economics majors. Dr. Asarta suggested several ways of making economics more interesting, more applied, and more fun for contemporary students.
The feedback from teachers was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone learned a lot and took away many resources to be used in the classroom.
On March 6, 2020, Dr. Natalia Smirnova and Dr. Tianxu Chen represented the Economics Department at the “Women and Girls’ Day at the Capitol 2020” cohosted by The Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, The Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity; and The Women’s Suffrage Commission.
The theme for the event was CELEBRATE – CONNECT – INSPIRE:
To CELEBRATE the progress made by women in honor of Women’s History Month and the 100 Year Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage.
To CONNECT the state community to resources and opportunities that are available to the public, such as:
Health & safety services and information.
Women leaders in STEAM and underrepresented fields — hence Economics!
Resources for women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
To INSPIRE women and girls to design their own paths (providing a broad scope of role models for them to become inspired).
The intended audience for the day was female high school juniors and seniors, and women from across Connecticut. A total of 300 individuals attended, with half of them being high school aged girls. Both Dr. Smirnova and Dr. Chen were excited to share their love of economics with the attendees. The event was worthwhile for everyone!
This Fall, Professor Smirnova’s Mathematical Economics class in Stamford engaged in collaboration with the local business community. A key element of the course was the empirical project, which gave students hands-on experience in working with data and proposing a solution to a real problem for Stamford-based businesses. Separated randomly into seven teams, students pondered the research question: How to attract and retain Millennial talent in Stamford, CT?
This question was posited by Kelly Pierre-Louis, UConn alumna, Founder & Executive Director of #IRLCONN – (In Real Life Conference: #IRLCONN: Edu). Kelly devoted a substantial amount of time observing teams’ presentations throughout the semester and giving constructive feedback. On the last day of classes, December 5th, teams presented their answer to the research question, their analysis of data, and their recommendations for the Millennial talent retention in Stamford. In attendance at the event were local business community leaders from Stamford Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Fairfield County, Ferguson Library, Waddell and Reed, GAIA Real Estate, Congressman Jim Himes’s office, and Luigi and Associates.
Students had the opportunity not only to showcase their research but also network with business professionals, ask and answer questions, and connect. Our guests were very enthusiastic about student projects’ outcomes. They asked questions, provided their views on the subject, and were interested in implementing some of the students’ recommendations in their businesses or their line of work. Good dialogue and an exchange of ideas for future collaboration inside and outside of the classroom commenced.
Such real-world projects’ integration in the economics curriculum proves to be an exciting new way of connecting our students to the realm outside the academia. It also makes class projects more meaningful and develops skills that can be easily transferred to the workplace.