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Economics Alumni

Lex Parent

BBA Economics ’20
Secondary Transaction Coordinator | Coastal Custom Mortgage

Learn More About Lex

Tell us about your current position.

I am currently a Secondary Transaction Coordinator at Coastal Custom Mortgage. My main responsibilities are ensuring mortgages are in compliance with federal guidelines in order to sell the loans to various investors and wiring closing funds to attorneys for the loan to close successfully. I monitor interest rates throughout the day to get an idea of how the market will shift and understand how it will affect borrowers who have not locked in their interest rate for the duration of the loan. I prepare and post-close all files to confirm all documents have been collected properly to pass a state or federal audit.

How did you become interested in economics?

I became interested in economics my freshman year of college when I was taking a hybrid macro and micro introduction class. The class was covering printing money versus the Federal Reserve creating money and I had assumed those were the same thing up until that class period. After going in depth about the differences, how each affects the economy and real-world examples, my mind was blown. I switched my major to Economics immediately after that class. 

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

Econometrics is probably the largest reason I am successful in my role. Learning how to properly interpret data after manipulating it and thinking outside of the box about what the results mean help me understand what profits will be when selling a loan. Most math in mortgage feels like interpreting a regression, and without having that understanding

I would have no idea what I was doing. Numbers aren’t just numbers; they have meaning, and you have to figure out what that meaning is — just like I did in econometrics. 

What was your favorite course in economics?

My favorite econ course is a strong tie between Environmental Economics and Health Economics. 

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics? 

You learn about so many aspects of economics in school and it’s okay to not know what field you want to have a career in right out of college. It’s cool to have the option to go into almost any career field with an econ degree, but it can also be daunting. It can be tough hearing peers saying they know exactly what career they want or their plans after grad school when you have no idea what you want to do. I applied to jobs in the sports, music and environmental fields before landing in mortgage because I had no idea what field I wanted to be in. It is okay to not know. Don’t be hard on yourself, you will figure it out. 

Alex Conarton

BBA Economics ’21
Industry and Research Manager | Effingham County Industrial Development Authority

Learn More About Alex

Tell us about your current position.

I serve as the Industry and Research Manager for the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. Our top priority is to create quality jobs and investment through the attraction and retention of industrial companies in Effingham County. My role is on the business retention side acting as a liaison between industry and local and regional service providers, educational partners, and community stakeholders to help our industries with everyday challenges related to labor attraction and retention, training, and talent pipeline. I also provide research for internal analytical purposes and external marketing uses.

How did you become interested in economics?

In high school I decided that I wanted to work in government and entered college with a business major and a plan to attend law school upon graduation. After an internship, I realized differently but was too far into classes within the Parker College of Business. Needing to change my major to something that would position me for a public career while not losing credits, I chose economics which was the perfect fit.

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

Georgia Southern was essential to my professional development. I took two classes within the career services department and gained internships through extracurriculars and on-campus career fairs. My professor, Dr. Jeff Schiman, sent me the internship information for the Effingham County IDA where I now work full time.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Although Intro to Macro was the easiest, my favorite course was Public Finance and Public Policy. I recommend it to anyone interested in public sector economics.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics? 

Apply to internships in your desired field and meet as many people and learn as much as you can. You never know what will lead to more.

Cameron Speakes

BBA Economics ’20
Consultant, Quality Analytics | Kaiser Permanente of Georgia

Learn More About Cameron

Tell us about your current position.

My role is tasked with maintaining data for the Hospital and Acute Care Division, providing insights into what the metrics indicate to physicians and their staff, answering questions they may have about how patient care is provided, and using data in creative ways to help them improve where they can.

How did you become interested in economics?

I had to take some of the intro level courses for a different degree and liked the topics and discussions so much that I changed majors. As I continued in the program, I learned that what I enjoyed most was analyzing problems from an economic perspective and then using data analysis to search for answers to those problems.

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

The “hands on approach” in the upper-level courses introduced me to data analysis and allowed me to perform my own econometric research, not just read about someone else’s work and process. This was the first step for me that ultimately led me to grad school and then to my career.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Applied Econometrics. It was challenging in a good way and opened doors for me as a student and a professional.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics? 

Find a field that interests you and start to ask questions about how an economist can impact that space. Economics as a discipline is deeper than most people realize. All industries not only have economists specialized in that field, but also have various teams of people dedicated to analyzing data and finding answers to the problems that they face.

Joanna Faber

BBA Economics ’19
Associate | Cloudmed

Learn More About Joanna

Tell us about your current position.

I am an associate at Cloudmed Revenue Intelligence Solutions. I work with insurance companies to recover revenue for hospital clients by examining contract language and translating it into data modeling to facilitate proper pricing. 

How did you become interested in economics?

It happened quite organically. I came to Georgia Southern undecided, but I thought the business school would be a good place to start. My first semester I was enrolled in macroeconomics with Prof. Jeff Schiman. I really enjoyed the class and so I enrolled in another economics class the following semester, eventually declaring it my major. 

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

The faculty in the economics department at Georgia Southern played such a big role in my career. Going to office hours allowed me to build connections with professors, who pushed me to aim big in my goals. Without them, I would have never even applied to graduate school. Because of them, I graduated from one of the top graduate programs in the nation for public health. 

What was your favorite course in economics?

Applied Econometrics. This was by far the most challenging course I took at Georgia Southern and it paid off. The skills I learned from hours spent in the computer lab helped me during the interview for the job I have now. 

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?  

Think broadly! An economics degree is highly valuable in many fields, not just in the world of business. I have met lawyers, restaurant owners, teachers, and doctors who hold degrees in economics. 

AnnMarie Grason

BBA Economics ’19
Associate Consultant | Ernst & Young

Learn More About AnnMarie

Tell us about your current position.

I am currently an associate consultant within Ernst & Young’s Economic Development Advisory Services Practice. We work with governments, economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, educational institutions, and workforce agencies. Our services include strategic planning, competitive assessments, benchmarking, economic equity strategies, global market insights and innovative custom solutions. We help communities create and deploy economic development strategies and practical tools to achieve higher-performing economies that generate opportunities for all their residents. In my specific role I have the opportunity to work in many facets of economic development strategic planning including project coordination, stakeholder engagement, research, strategy drafting and site visits. By far, my favorite part of my role is being able to help communities through challenges and see them thrive when and after implementing strategies.


How did you become interested in economics?

In high school, I participated in the dual enrollment program and took my first economics class. I was immediately intrigued with how practical and applicable it was to life and everyday issues. Once I really thought about what I wanted to do for my career, I realized economics was at the center of it all. I have a passion for helping residents, businesses and communities thrive and at the center of it all is a thriving economy.

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

I took an economic development class at Georgia Southern that really sealed the deal. In addition to that, the connections I made with professors and classmates are valuable to this day and will continue to be throughout my professional career.


What was your favorite course in economics?

Econometrics and Health Economics: I liked these courses for the same reason, they both required a lot of independent research on topics of your choice which summed up to a final paper and presentation. I enjoyed courses where I could see the fruits of my labor at the end. I am also still using data analysis tools I learned in these courses in my career today.


What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?
 

There are so many career paths within economics, use internships as an opportunity to see what you like.  If you are deciding between economic development and economic forecasting for example, get an internship in both. It is a great opportunity to try out different positions within a career path without the commitment of a full-time role.

Jordan Totten

BBA Economics ’14
Machine Learning Specialist | Google

Learn More About Jordan

Tell us about your current position.

I’m a Machine Learning specialist with Google Cloud, focusing on the space where machine learning intersects with the challenges facing society and businesses today. I help retail and CPG customers use Google’s AI services to innovate, optimize, and scale their business applications in the cloud. I use their feedback and use cases to prioritize new features in our product roadmaps.

How did you become interested in economics?

I was particularly interested in learning how organizations and individuals make decisions with limited resources. I knew this would be a useful foundation I could apply to any field or discipline.

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?

Understanding cooperative game theory has been very helpful for my career. Shapley values are a fundamental concept in Explainable AI, and at Google they are currently the primary mechanism for attributing the impact of each input on a model’s final prediction. This is incredibly useful for detecting bias in data, promoting fair and responsible AI, debugging large systems, and helping production models adapt to an ever-changing environment.

What was your favorite course in economics?

Applied Econometrics

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?  

Learn how to wrangle large amounts of data. The ability to efficiently conduct quantitative analysis is incredibly valuable in any field. 

Najae Moore

BBA Economics & Finance ’21
Associate Analyst | Fitch Ratings

Learn More About Najae

Tell us about your current position.

I am currently an Associate Analyst at Fitch Ratings. I serve as a credit analyst on the Real Estate and Leisure team, specifically covering Homebuilding and Building Products companies. 

How did you become interested in economics?

My interest in economics stemmed from my interest in politics. Once I was old enough to understand the connection between the two, as well as the connection between economics and everything else in the world, I was fascinated with the field. 

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

My extracurricular activities from college have played a vital role in my journey to find and establish a career. I think taking the time outside of classes to voluntarily immerse myself in related organizations gave me additional exposure to economics and finance that went beyond the classroom. Also, my extracurricular activities were a huge talking point in my interviews post-college.  

What was your favorite course in economics?  

My favorite course in economics was Applied Econometrics taught by Dr. Jeff Schiman. I think it was one of the first courses where I was immensely challenged and interested. While the course was by far one of my most challenging, it was one where I could easily see where the real-world, post-college value lied.  

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics? 

I would advise current students to understand and take advantage of the fact that an economics degree is highly applicable and can be useful in many different career paths, so don’t limit yourself! 

Keith Stille

BBA Economics ’19
Area Manager | Amazon

Learn More About Keith

Tell us about your current position.

My current position is a L5 Area Manager at Amazon. I actively monitor and allocate resource and inventory flows in my Fulfillment Center. I use my understanding of data on a day-to-day basis to ensure operations are balanced between several inbound departments. 

How did you become interested in economics?

I started out as an Accounting major. Once I graduated with my associates, my hunger for greater, more diverse knowledge combined with encouragement from my professors and family peaked my interest in Economics. My journey to be an Econ Major started when I used to watch Milton Friedman’s lectures on YouTube to gain insight into some economic theory and principles. 

What was one aspect of Georgia Southern that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career? 

The excellent professors who guided me along my journey. They really pushed me to obtain greater understanding and never faltered on lending a hand. Every professor gave me inspiration in their own way to pursue economics from a standpoint that would benefit my interests and goals.  

What was your favorite course in economics?  

Econometrics. I took it twice. The course gave me the opportunity to learn data analysis and demonstrate my independent research utilizing regression models. It gave me insight into understanding data and seeing a “big picture” while formulating questions on the “why?” and “how?” of economic actions/decisions made over time. I learned to deep dive and become proficient with data-analysis software.  

What advice would you give to current students about careers in economics?   

Economics as a major has the advantage of being applicable anywhere. Pursue knowledge on economic topics that pertain to your career choice and continuously learn about them. Economics is a constant ebb and flow and is always changing, so explore those endless possibilities. Just a little research can spark a lifetime career. 

Last updated: 10/5/2022