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Department of Economics

Alumni Survey

I. Introduction/Executive Summary

The first student graduated from the B.S. in Economics program in 1986. Through the Spring Quarter of 2004 87 students have graduated from the B.S. in Economics program. This is the third alumni survey which we have conducted; the two others being completed in 1993 and 1998. Of the 87 alumni we were able to verify addresses for 59. Of the 59 verified addresses we received completed surveys by e-mail, paper mail, or phone interview for 50, an 85% response rate. For all alumni the response rate was 57%. Thus, we were able to obtain current information on over half of our alumni. This gives us the most comprehensive assessment of outcomes for the Economics program to date.

The 2004 survey affirmed the trends witnessed in the two earlier surveys. The first major trend is that graduates of the RIT Economics program have entered a wide variety of industries/occupations and have enjoyed rich and diverse careers. This is consistent with the intent of the Economics program; maximizing the options of Economics alumni by providing rigorous training in analytical reasoning and quantitative analysis. Economics alumni emphasized this aspect of the program in their written and oral comments.

The second major trend is that a high percentage of Economics alumni have gone on for advanced degrees. Over 60% of alumni responding to the 2004 survey have either obtained or are in the process of pursuing a graduate degree. Nevertheless, an analysis of those alumni who have not pursued graduate education shows that they are high achievers in their careers and have engaged in post-baccalaureate training in areas such as software and financial licensing.

The remainder of this document is organized as follows. Section II presents an analysis of the response rate to the three alumni surveys. Section III discusses the career outcomes, followed by an analysis of post-baccalaureate educational outcomes in Section IV. Section V presents a selection of vignettes of the careers of alumni. Section VI concludes with advice from the alumni to current and prospective students in the Economics program.

II. Response to the Alumni Survey

As indicated in the previous section the 2004 Alumni Survey represents the most comprehensive assessment of educational outcomes ever undertaken of the Economics Program. A chart comparing response rates among the three surveys is given below.


Response Rates to the 1993, 1998 & 2004
Alumni Surveys
Graduation Years Graduates 1993 Survey Response Rate 1998 Survey Response Rate 2004 Survey Response Rate
1986-1993 51 24% 29% 63%
1994-1998 22 NA 18% 64%
1999-2004 14 NA NA 29%

TOTALS 87 24% 26% 57%

The chart indicates that the response rate to the 2004 survey is more than double the response rates for the two previous surveys. This can be explained by two factors. First, older alumni who are more established in their careers are more likely to respond to a survey because they feel that they have “more to say.” In many ss younger alumni feel “they haven’t arrived yet.” Second, there were significant follow up activities after the initial mailing was sent out for the 2004 survey. Many alumni were subsequently contacted by phone or e-mail, some on more than one occasion.
In any case a response rate approaching two thirds of those alumni graduating in 1998 or before gives us a very good view of what kind of careers Economics alumni in their late twenties and thirties have pursued.

III. Career Outcomes

Economics alumni have entered into a wide variety of careers. The results of the 2004 survey are consistent with statements made in the 1999 Economics video; a small percentage of graduates have careers which can be narrowly defined as economists, while the majority of graduates have careers which can be characterized as managerial/entrepreneurial. A chart is given below which summarizes the career outcomes.


Industry/Occupation of Survey Respondents

Economist

10%

IT/Software Engineering

12%

Sales/Marketing

10%

Finance

10%

Banking

6%

Health Care Analyst

6%

Education

6%

Full-time Student

6%

Insurance

4%

Manufacturing

4%

Consulting

4%

Accounting

4%

Government/Armed Forces

4%

Law

2%

Film

2%

Social Services

2%

Non-Profit Foundations

2%

Security

2%

Surveying

2%

Out of Labor Force/Homemaker

2%


It is clear that there is no “typical” career path that Economics alumni have followed. Additionally, many respondents to the survey indicated that they have changed careers. They affirm that the Economics program has provided them with the skills to make smooth transitions into new occupations.

IV. Post-Baccalaureate Educational Outcomes

The Economics Program prepares students for employment immediately upon graduation as well as providing baccalaureate education which leads to further study at the graduate level. The chart given below summarizes the post-baccalaureate educational outcomes of the survey respondents.


Educational Outcomes of Economics Alumni
Bachelor’s degree holder and not enrolled in graduate program 36%
Bachelor’s degree holder and working towards graduate degree 8%
Graduate degree holder 56%

Furthermore, there are an additional 8% of survey respondents who are graduate degree holders and are currently enrolled in a second graduate program.

One quarter of graduate degrees have been in Economics and they represent the largest percentage of graduate degree holders. The distribution of graduate degrees is given in the chart below.


Distribution of Graduate Degrees

MA or Ph.D. in Economics

25.0%

MBA

21.4%

MS in Applied Statistics

14.3%

Other graduate degree

39.3%


The listing of other graduate degrees is as follows.
M.S. Computer Information Systems
M.S. Public Management – Environmental Policy
M.S. Public Policy
M.S. Education
M.S. Industrial Engineering
M.S. Information Networking
M.S. Park, Recreation and Tourism Resources
M.A. Arts Management
MLS (Library Science)
J.D. (Law)
Graduate certificate in animation

V. Alumni Vignettes

As evidenced by the diversity of career outcomes, there is no “typical” career path followed by RIT Economics alumni. In a sense each one is unique. Below is a somewhat arbitrary collection of alumni vignettes which illustrate career outcomes.

Rich Close ‘91
Rich Close is Managing Director, Equity Research for Jeffries and Company. He leads the firm’s education service research efforts. Rich was selected as one of The Wall Street Journal’s “Best on the Street” in 2000 and 2002, an annual survey that ranks analysts by their recommendations. Rich was ranked in the top tenth of stock pickers in Starmine’s 2002 annual ranking of sell-side research analysts. Rich has been featured on Bloomberg TV, Investor’s Business Daily, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Prior to joining Jeffries he served at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey as a senior research analyst.

Nicole Richardson ‘92
After graduation Nicole attended the University of Delaware where she obtained an M.A. in Economics. During her career she served as an Economist/Policy Analyst for the Center for Health Economics and Infomatics, a Research Supervisor for Young and Rubicam, and a Senior Statistical Analyst for Element.com/EAR, Inc. Currently, she is Vice President, Statistical Modeling and Analytics for Chase Insurance Group. In this capacity she manages mortgage portfolio model development, conducts attrition analysis and engages in sequential product offer analyses.

Jeff Biittig ‘91
Jeff began his career after graduation as a Senior Information Analyst for the University of Rochester. He then obtained a position as a Treaty Account Manager for Guilderland Reinsurance Company. He was responsible for price modeling, trend analysis, mapping and forecasting in addition to other managerial responsibilities. From there he moved into an executive position with Bank of America. He left to assume his current position where he works as a consultant to financial institutions advising CEO’s and CFO’s on strategic sales and marketing initiatives. His work draws heavily upon his skill set in multivariate analysis and other statistical techniques.

Cherie Rosenblum ‘91
Cherie obtained a masters in public management from the University of Maryland after graduating from the RIT Economics program. She held a variety of public policy analytical positions and is now Project Manager for the Center for Naval Analyses. Her current research covers the economics of public-private competition examining how to create competition for government functions considered “commercial in nature.” Her research papers have focused on the long run impact of public-private competition in terms of cost and performance, alternatives to traditional government financing structures and how to develop performance measures.

Lindsay Fusco ‘02
Lindsay works as a Senior Sales Analyst for a medium size corporation. Her territory includes the East Coast where she supports more than one hundred account managers and fifty branch managers. As analyst she acts as a liaison between the sales force and corporate management providing yearly forecasts, budgeting and account planning. She assists the sales force in creating customer proposals and analyzing potential business opportunities.

John Linehan ‘93
After graduating from RIT John sought employment opportunities in Japan and began his career developing multimedia applications for Obun Printing Company. He held a number of positions in Japan including Manager of Management Consulting for Ernst & Young Consulting. For the last several years he has worked for Oracle Corporation in both New York and Tokyo. Currently, he is Director of Sales Promotion Initiatives for Oracle in Tokyo. His responsibilities include developing sales strategy for Japanese Hardware OEM’s and partners for enterprise application and technology products.

Jeremy Cusimano ‘01
Jeremy attended the University of Maine after graduation where he obtained an M.S. in Environmental and Resource Economics in 2003. Jeremy is now Staff Economist and Presidential Management Fellow for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at the Department of Energy in Washington. Jeremy conducts research relating to petroleum markets and the macroeconomy. He is responsible for setting price guidelines and making quantity recommendations in the event of a sale of our petroleum reserves based on the anticipated impact of such a sale.

Blaine Fairless ‘93
After graduation Blaine worked in a number of positions relating to accounting/finance. Currently, she is a Senior Associate with Parente Randolph Accountants and Consultants in the Forensics and Litigation Support Services group. Her duties include report writing on damages in corporate litigation as a result of intellectual property disputes, fraudulent transactions, preference payments, breach of contract and destruction of business claims. She also works with CPA’s and economists to develop damage theories and coordinate expert testimony.

VI. In Their Own Words: Alumni Comments Regarding the Economics Program

The Economics alumni are unanimous in their praise of the Economics program. Here is a representative sample of what they’ve had to say about the program.“My Economics degree prepared me for many business-related decisions and planning situations over the years. Being able to understand ramifications or intricacies of market decisions is not something that comes easily for most people. I feel I have been able to make prudent assessments as well as lead people due to my education in Economics.”
Mike Ramsager ‘89
VP of Internet Applications
PayMaxx, Inc
.

“A degree in Econ is much better than a general business degree in the real world – it develops your analytical skills to a much higher level. The RIT Econ program is a good foundation to start a career in investment management.”
Kristina Regan ‘92
Senior Investment Manager
Fidelity Investments, Inc.

“The RIT Economics program is difficult. However, if a student applies himself or herself, they will receive the rewards of developing quantitative and analytical skills that will serve them well in any field they find themselves in. You also get taught from a world perspective. It helps you to have better interaction and understand the world about you.”
Tony Nichols ‘96
Software Quality
Assurance Engineer
Eastman Kodak Company

“A degree in Economics is flexible enough to allow a profession in various & different directions – from economics to accounting to actuarial or even marketing. It is a great degree to have for those who want freedom to change paths in life.”
Viviane Engel ‘92
Senior IT Auditor
Excellus Co.

“I would tell a prospective student that the Economics program at RIT was robust, challenging, and very rewarding. Small classes with extremely knowledgeable and personable staff made for a great learning environment. You learn things that will help you with your career upon graduation and entering the ‘real world’.”
Bob Rider ‘95
Product Manager
Avanex Corporation

“Economics provides a great base for many fields. The program at RIT is better than many ‘business’ schools because we were provided with more forecasting and upper level math than what most programs require. Again, depending on the field this has been great leverage for me over some finance candidates in winning jobs.
Debbie Spiesz ‘94
Risk Analyst
GE Healthcare Financial Services

“The Econ program was flexible enough to provide me with experience in other social sciences – it’s not just a business degree. This background gives me an invaluable perspective as I pursue graduate studies in other fields.”
Ben Amsden ‘95
Ph.D. Candidate
in Rural Sociology
Penn State University

“I feel that by receiving my degree in Economics from RIT I was able to position myself in the job market easily. Even though my current job does not pertain to Economics specifically, overall the knowledge I learned was very useful in gaining a broad business background. The more diversity you have under your belt will benefit you down the road and it is easier to sell yourself to prospective employers.”
Debra Andrews ‘97
Account Associate
Citibank,
The Student Loan Corporation