Smirnova

Stamford Economics Alum Visits Economics Classes

Kyle Richter (CLAS’21) (left) and Dr. Smirnova in Financial Economics class on December 6, 2022

Kyle Richter graduated from UConn-Stamford in December 2021 and is currently an Investment Banking Associate at Capital Research Partners & Co., a boutique investment bank in Norwalk, CT that specializes in restructuring, capital raising, and mergers & acquisitions. The Center for Career Development at Stamford and Dr. Smirnova worked together to arrange Kyle’s visit to ECON 3413 — Financial Economics class on December 6, 2022.

The class started with students’ presentations of financial analysis reports that they completed during the semester. The assignment was to select a publicly traded company, obtain a series of financial reports, analyze financials statements and ratios, and apply one of the methods of stock valuation that were covered in the course. Students wrote a short report justifying their “buy/sell” recommendation and were defending their findings via oral presentation. Kyle was able to assess students’ work and ask clarifying questions.

Kyle took Financial Economics in the Spring of 2021 and was happy to share with students how he uses what he learned in this class every day at work. He talked about uses of financial statements, benchmarking, and trend analyses for valuation of companies and M&A deals. He explained the differences in structure and culture between small firms and large corporations.

Students engaged in a productive discussion with Kyle. They asked questions pertaining to job search after graduation and about careers in finance. Kyle shared his story of job search and his ambitions for the future. He suggested using this class’s report as a showcase of financial industry skills during the interview process at any financial firm. Understanding of nasic financial concepts, concise writing, and presentation skills are essential for getting a job in finance.

After the Financial Economics class, Kyle Richter met with students in ECON 3492 – Practicum class. This is a special course where Stamford team participates in national competitions. Here, the discussion with students focused on careers, career competencies, and networking. Kyle offered his help in giving feedback on students’ resumes and in mentoring students as they navigate job search and connections with professional networks.

Overall, the visit was very productive and interesting. We thank Kyle Richter for coming to our campus, mentoring our students, and engaging with the University.

Two Competitions for the Stamford Fed Challenge and FDIC Academic Challenge Team

UConn -Stamford Team 2022.
From left to right back row: Anthony Santiago, Neel Talati, Jonathan Portanova, Robert Martin, James McQuade. From left to right front row: Alyssa Pelletier, Briana Hardy

This Fall, Stamford students enrolled in ECON 3492 “Practicum” participated not in one, but in two national competitions: College Fed Challenge and FDIC Academic Challenge.

Dr. Natalia Smirnova, Stamford “Practicum” instructor, argues that each competition is unique and encourages students to develop different skills that are valuable to their future career. This year, she added FDIC Academic Challenge as a complementary activity to the existing “Practicum” structure. The timing works perfectly: Fed Challenge is heavy at the beginning of the semester (submission in October), FDIC Challenge starts in November. The skills that students learn are complementary: the Fed Challenge focuses on the oral presentation skills and macroeconomic knowledge; the FDIC Challenge focuses on the writing skills (students write an analytical report) and microeconomic analysis. Both competitions have learning goals of data literacy, analytical, research skills, teamwork, and economic analysis.

The Stamford 2022 team consisted of seven students.

Alyssa Pelletier (Team Leader) is a Junior majoring in Financial Management at UConn. This is her second semester on the College Fed Challenge team. Her interests include finance and data analytics, utilizing demonstrated collaboration, organization, and problem-solving skills. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and beach trips. Through this competition, Alyssa learned how to analyze economic / financial conditions, to formulate monetary policy recommendations. She developed a better understanding of how different sectors / industries contribute to the decisions of the Fed. Alyssa selected the Technology sector, as she was interested in researching how technology is reshaping productivity and employment opportunities. She focused on digital transformation, and how the nature of work is changing as a result of technological advances. In this course, Alyssa had the opportunity to gain insight into an industry of interest, while developing career-valued skills like leadership, critical thinking, and teamwork. Here is the link to Alyssa’s reflection at the end of the course.

Briana Hardy is a second semester Junior majoring in economics and minoring in psychology at UConn Stamford. Growing up in Stamford, she planned on transferring to Storrs for her junior year. However, as for many other people, the pandemic disrupted her plans and she decided to take a gap year. During that gap year she worked full time to help her family who were directly impacted by the recession of the pandemic. During that gap year she worked for a local community bank as a teller and then was given the opportunity to learn the beginning processes of credit risk management as a paid intern. This caused her to become more interested in economics and banking. During her gap year she also worked at a grocery store and was able to see firsthand how the pandemic disrupted many sectors of the local economy and supply chain as well. During her free time Briana is learning to speak Spanish, she enjoys investing in the stock market, and she loves to travel. After she completes her undergraduate degree, she plans on working in the banking industry. After obtaining some work experience, she wants to go back to school to obtain a graduate degree. For the College Fed Challenge, Briana decided to look further into the supply chain because of her firsthand experience in seeing how incidences outside of the financial world are, in fact, interconnected in our economy. Here is the link to Briana’s reflection at the end of the course.

Robert Martin is a current second semester Senior at UConn Stamford majoring in General Studies with a focus in Economics. He transferred to UConn his Junior year after attending Saint Joseph’s University where he majored in Business Intelligence and Analytics. He opted to switch to General studies at UConn to learn a wide variety of courses including economics, psychology, and communications to help him more in the wine industry. During his free time Robert enjoys golfing, going to the gym, and trying out new restaurants. After he completes his undergraduate in December 2022, he plans on working in the wine industry to continue to grow his wine knowledge. Throughout this challenge Robert selected the housing sector, to get a better understanding how the housing market affected the general economy and showed the growth and trends within the industry. Here is the link to Robert’s reflection at the end of the course.

James McQuade is a Senior at UConn, majoring in Economics. This is his first semester as a Practicum team member and his second semester taking coursework in monetary policy. James is interested in pursuing a career in analytics, most likely in financial services. However, he is open to opportunities in other fields conducting economic or financial analysis, i.e., credit analysis, insurance analysis, healthcare analysis, etc. He completed a summer internship in the Wealth Management department at Raymond James Financial Inc. under the Vice President of Investments in Westport, CT. He has utilized his aptitude for critical thinking as well as his knowledge of economic and financial markets to conduct research regarding the effects of commodity prices on macroeconomic forces including production costs and consumption. As the needs of team changed, he has also conducted research regarding consumer sentiment and its possible implications on the Fed’s policy to maintain price stability. He looks forward to getting more experience in analysis after graduation and hopes to find an opportunity to pursue a Master of Science in Finance or an MBA in the near future. He is also considering work on the Chartered Financial Analyst designation post-graduation. Outside of academics, James has a passion for singing, and spending time with family and friends. Here is the link to James’s reflection at the end of the course.

Jonathan Portanova is a Senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Economics. His interest is to go into public policy and research developments in the private and public sectors. Being on the Fed College Challenge Team gave Jonathan a great opportunity to do research on the economy and learn new sources of information. Jonathan is also a community leader and has volunteered in his time in the community as members of organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, the Alzheimer Association, and on Campus. Being a part of two Honor Societies Delta Alpha Pi and Phi Theta Kappa, Jonathan enjoys spending time with family and friends, meeting new people, and going out. Here is the link to Jonathan’s reflection at the end of the course.

Anthony Santiago, “Santi” is a UConn Stamford Senior. Santi was originally a member of the class of 2020 but when the COVID-19 pandemic began, he took some time off from school to pursue a career as a plumber. After establishing himself locally in the trade industry, he decided that it was time to reenter the classroom and complete his degree. After leaving his company in January of 2022, he will graduate this December through UConn’s Continuing Studies program with a bachelor’s degree in General Studies, where most of his classes are of a business background. He is planning on trading his work boots for a suit and tie following the completion of his degree and hopes to find a finance opportunity in the NYC area early in 2023. Here is the link to Anthony’s reflection at the end of the course.

Neel Talati is a Senior majoring in Economics at UConn. This is his first semester participating in the College Fed Challenge team. Neel’s interests include stock trading, technical analysis, creating leadership opportunities and analytical thinking. In his free time, Neel likes to travel and go outdoors to play various sports like soccer and basketball. At the beginning of this competition, he has been able to demonstrate knowledge and skills to analyze economic climate forecasts and correlate them to monetary policy. He has been able to collaborate with his peers to help in all sectors of the Fed challenge. Throughout the course, he has been able to gain experience and insight to help prepare for the next semester fed challenge. Here is the link to Neel’s reflection at the end of the course.

Team’s video submission for the College Fed Challenge competition did not advance to the second round. But students kept pushing forward and worked hard on the next challenge. The written report analyzing profitability of banks in Fairfield County was submitted to the FDIC Challenge, and we are awaiting the results of the first round to be available in February.

Each student acknowledged that through the “Practicum” course they developed and refined a lot of career-transferrable skills such as critical thinking, analytical, and presentation skills in addition to teamwork and collaborative competitive spirit.

Dr. Smirnova adds that ECON 3492 “Practicum” supports Goal 3: Teaching, Learning, and Student Success of the CLAS Strategic Plan by enhancing, through experiential learning, opportunities for undergraduate education. It also helps students develop career readiness proficiencies stipulated by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and supported by UConn’s Center for Career Development.

Congratulations to all students on the UConn – Stamford Team 2022!

Early College Experience – Economics: Workshop 2022

Kansas City Fed Picture
Two historical publications of the Kansas City Fed by Tim Todd. Snippets of cover pages are courtesy of Tim Todd.

Connecticut high school teachers who are certified instructors with the UConn Early College Experience (ECE) – Economics program gathered (virtually) on October 26, 2022, for an annual professional development workshop. The Economics Department sees these instructors as our colleagues and values their participation in the University mission. We see our relationship with the high school partners as important for the academic discipline and for developing Economics major and minor at UConn.

Professor Smirnova is faculty liaison for the ECE-Economics program. In this role, she oversees the course comparability, academic oversight, and professional development of the ECE instructors teaching ECON 1000, ECON 1201, ECON 1202 in their high schools.

The October workshop is an annual professional development opportunity. The goal is to share pedagogical innovations in the economics field in order to keep instructors informed and energized in delivering engaging classes to their pupils.

The workshop was opened with a dynamic presentation “5 Key Economic Concepts that Popular Media Can Teach” delivered by Dr. Kim Holder, Director, UWG Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy, Senior Lecturer of Economics, Richards College of Business, Director of Financial Literacy, University of West Georgia (UWG).

In the next presentation “Building Human Capital – College and Career Exploration”, Princeton Williams, Senior Outreach Advisor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, introduced teachers to Navigate, a portal that helps students navigate college application process and focus on selection of their future academic major and subsequent career. Instructors were excited to learn about several lesson plans and classroom-use-ready materials available for teachers through this site.

Intriguing presentation “4 Tools to Make Your Teaching Stick” was delivered by Matt Hill, Curriculum Designer at the Marginal Revolution University. ECE instructors were engaged in several exercises helping them experience the interactivity of the tools suggested by Matt.

The final presentation “The Vibrant History of Black-Owned Banks” was given by Tim Todd, Executive Writer and Historian of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. As the author of two books on bank ownership, which are written as a historical reference on Black community banks, Tim showed photographs related to his research and invited ECE instructors to download the books for classroom use. Instructors can also request hard copies of the books for their classroom use for free.

28 ECE Economics instructors attended the workshop.

Stamford Students Learn about Financial Planning and Analysis from Charter Communications Director

Ashley Etheridge, Director of Business Planning at Charter Communications, talks to students in “ECON 3413 Financial Economics” class at Stamford on October 20, 2022.

ECON 3413 Financial Economics course at Stamford, taught by Dr. Smirnova, challenges students to apply financial concepts to business problems. In addition to following the textbook exposition of the material, students select a publicly traded company and analyze its financial performance. This semester-long project requires them to interact with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website to retrieve several years of company’s annual reports, use Excel to analyze financial statements, performing ratio analysis and modeling stock valuation, write a business report, and finally present their recommendation to the class whether or not to add that stock to a portfolio.

The students were very excited when Ashley Etheridge, Director of Business Planning at Charter Communications came to class on October 20, 2022. The goal of the visit was to shed the light on what the actual financial analyst at Charter does in Ashley’s line of business – Planning and Analysis. Ashley carefully described the set of skills that is necessary for success in a financials industry job: owning the task from start to finish; data analysis; accuracy; and polished presentations of results in written, analytical, and oral presentation forms.

Ashley also emphasized the use of Excel in business analytics. She suggested to create a story with data, think through model structure, and design validation checks and backup materials. She entertained the class with the discussion of the “Greatest Excel Spreadsheet Errors of All Time”.

Students were able to ask questions and learn about Ashley’s career trajectory and her personal accounts of mistakes she made and successes she experienced while her more than a decade at Charter. She concluded her visit showcasing internship and job opportunities that are currently available at Charter.

The benefits of inviting employers in the classroom could not be overstated. The employers bring a unique perspective that can complement any classroom content while providing industry and career insight. The effect on students is amplified when a presenter can relate their day-to-day activities on the job to the skills that students are acquiring in a course. The clarification of such connections voiced by an industry professional, helps students identify career readiness competencies that they are developing in a particular course and become ready for a successful interview for an internship or a job.

 

Stamford Student Wins Second Place at the New York State Economic Association Conference

Matthew Gilshteyn (left) and Dr. Smirnova receiving the NYSEA Award, October 8, 2022, SUNY Old Westbury, NY

Matthew Gilshteyn, a student at UConn Stamford, has won second place in the Undergraduate Paper Competition conducted by the New York State Economic Association (NYSEA).

The competition is open to undergraduate students from around the United States and involves two steps. First, the papers are submitted and evaluated by the panel of judges who select 5 best papers to be presented at the annual NYSEA conference. The presentation round constitutes the second step in the competition. The presentations are done in front of the new panel of judges and is open to all members of NYSEA. The papers are ranked based on the scores from both steps. So, the competition is quite rigorous and encompasses many skills: writing, economic analysis, oral presentation, and public defense of one’s research.

Matthew Gilshteyn submitted his paper “How will the Infrastructure Act Impact Nuclear Energy Production Costs?”, which he wrote in ECON 3431W – Public Economics class taught by Dr. Smirnova in the Spring 2022. In his paper he analyzed the cost dynamics of nuclear energy sector and forecasted the impact of expenditures proposed by the Infrastructure Act of 2021 on that industry.

During the summer, Matthew worked with Dr. Smirnova polishing the paper for submission. He was notified about “making the cut” for the second step in September, at which time he continued working diligently on the presentation. On October 8, 2022, Matthew presented his research at the conference, which was help at the campus of SUNY Old Westbury. The room was packed with the attendees, who were industry professionals, faculty of various universities, graduate and undergraduate students, and the panel of five judges. Dr. Smirnova was in attendance as an adviser, mentor, and moral supporter. Matthew was confident; his presentation was engaging, which generated several questions from the audience. He answered all the questions satisfactorily.

The competition results were announced later that day before the Keynote Address by Richard Best from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Matthew received the second place, for which we are very excited. This was the first time that Matthew submitted and presented his research to the outside organization; he was unfamiliar with the process and nervous about the large professional audience. He demonstrated, however, a mature attitude through the whole selection process and a genuine interest in economics which reflects Dr. Smirnova’s guidance and commitment as teacher and faculty adviser.

Congratulations to Matthew Gilshteyn!

Business Appraiser Shares Methodology in Financial Economics Class

Mr. Becket presents in the Financial Economics class at Stamford on September 15, 2022

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.

Economics at the Major Fair at the Stamford Campus

Photo (left to right): Economics Seniors Miriam Salazar-Rey, James McQuade, and Gerson Jacinto at the Economics Major table on September 15, 2022.

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.

The Economics table was one of the most visited through the two-hour period. Economics seniors Miriam Salazar-Rey, James McQuade, and Gerson Jacinto enthusiastically shared information about the academic course of study, about various economics paths within the profession, and about the College Fed Challenge competition, a popular extra-curricular activity at Stamford.

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.

Professor Smirnova receives CLAS Broader Impacts, Service, and Visibility Award 2022

During the 2019-2021 academic year, the College undertook a collaborative strategic planning process. Among other things, the resulting plan articulated four overarching goals for the College to work toward in the coming years. The Strategic Goal Awards recognize recognize the efforts of faculty members in these areas:

  • Climate, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award
  • Innovative Scholarship Award
  • Teaching, Learning, and Student Success Award
  • Broader Impacts, Service, and Visibility Award

Dr. Smirnova has received the 2022 Broader Impacts, Service, and Visibility Award.

This award is granted for “outstanding initiatives that visibly impact the welfare of Connecticut and beyond, including but not limited to facilitating community engagement, developing strong connections to government or nonprofit agencies, and/or leveraging alumni networks”.

As a faculty liaison of the Early College ExperienceEconomics program, Dr. Smirnova oversees course comparability, academic programming, and professional development and evaluation of the UConn ECE instructors teaching ECON 1000, ECON 1201, ECON 1202 in high schools. The ECE Economics program is an important component of department’s academic outreach to the community, a part of the department’s recruitment strategy, and an important way to connect our colleagues in high schools with the University. The ECE Economics program is the largest at UConn. It serves on average 55 instructors who offer 66 ECE economics courses annually.

The impact on students who take ECE Economics courses is many-fold. They get acquainted with the academic rigor of CLAS, gain familiarity with the University as a whole, and publicize the prominence of UConn across the nation and around the world when gaining acceptance to institutions of higher education.

The community impact of the ECE Economics program is immense. Our partner schools serve urban and rural communities, inner-city pupils, immigrant populations, and first generation students. As Dr. Smirnova helps the ECE instructors build their courses with rigor and innovation, all these groups have the opportunity to learn economics concepts, develop economics way of thinking, and get their first exposure to the college-level curriculum. This opportunity has a profound positive impact on learners and their communities.

Starting at the local community, the visibility of the University grows in the national and international arenas. After high school graduation, some students attend the University of Connecticut. They contribute to UConn’s diversity and bring knowledge gained in high school to UConn. Other students go to colleges and universities around the country and around the world. They contribute to the visibility of UConn by transferring UConn credits earned through the ECE program, by bringing the knowledge they gained, and by spreading the word about the ECE experience they have had. International students who attend ECE-partner private boarding schools bring the knowledge about the University of Connecticut to their home countries.

Congratulations, Dr. Smirnova!

 

Professor Smirnova receives Career Champion Spotlight

The Center for Career Development features Professor Natalia Smirnova with their Career Champion Spotlight:

“The Career Champion Spotlight for May 2022 is Dr. Natalia V. Smirnova. Dr. Smirnova is an assistant professor in residence at the Stamford campus of UConn. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from UConn in 2004 and now teaches in the field of Economics, including courses like Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, and Financial Economics. She also teaches upper-level field courses in Economics. Her teaching approach is to focus on how economics is relevant to everyday decisions and to engage students in real-world applications and data-driven explorations.”

Read the full post online at:

https://career.uconn.edu/blog/2022/04/28/career-champion-may-spotlight-blog-natalia-smirnova/

Frontiers in Undergraduate Research 2022 at Stamford

Stamford Frontiers in Undergraduate Research PosterThis year, marking the 25th anniversary of the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Program at UConn, the Stamford campus had the first inaugural Frontiers event on April 12. The Frontiers program creates a culture of inquiry and engagement and enriches the undergraduate experience of our students.

At Stamford, students’ presentations were in-person and guests from the local community were invited. Twelve Stamford students from various disciplines delivered results of eight diverse research projects they have undertaken during this academic year.

Dr. Smirnova’s student, Matthew Gilshteyn, presented his research entitled “How Will Infrastructure Act Impact Nuclear Energy Production Costs?”, which stems from his work in ECON 3431W – “Public Economics” class. In his paper, Matthew conducted regression analysis on the data from U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Energy Institute and using the regression equation estimated the costs of nuclear energy production for 2022 and 2023. Matthew concluded that the Infrastructure Act’s allocation of resources towards alternative energy will decrease the cost of nuclear energy production by 8.2% by 2023. During the Frontiers event, Matthew answered questions from the audience and defended the nuclear energy as the safest energy source compared with other sources.

This year, the “posters” that students developed were in the electronic format and were projected on a big screen at the Welcome Center Atrium at the Stamford campus. Those posters will now be shown till the end of the semester on the monitors in the Concourse rotating among all eight projects.

The inaugural Frontiers event at the Stamford campus showcased the diversity of talent of our students and the continuing effort of the faculty to strengthen the undergraduate research program.

Thank you to the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Honors Program for organizing this beneficial event at the Stamford campus.

Smirnova and Gilshteyn at Frontiers in Undergraduate Research EventPhoto: Dr. Smirnova (left) and Matthew Gilshteyn at the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research event in Stamford, April 12, 2022.