5 things I love about being an economics major at Illinois

Ashley DrakeHere are five reasons why I love being an economics major at the University of Illinois:

1. We get to work with and learn from amazing faculty

Within our curriculum, we are able to choose economics electives that are in specialized fields. Each field has amazing and knowledgeable faculty that have spent their careers immersed in research in that field. A few of these fields include health economics, law, human resources, econometrics, global economics, data analytics, financial economics, and more.

These electives really let you explore and find what your interests may be or learn more about interests you already have. I was interested in human resources, so I took electives such as “Employee Compensation & Incentives” and “Economics of the Workplace,” and I learned about the many ways economics is connected to human resources from Professor Yuanyuan Sun.

2. We have lots of extracurricular opportunities you can get involved in

You may already know that the university as a whole has tons of opportunities to get involved in, whether it’s sports, volunteering, or anything else. What you may not yet know about is the abundance of opportunities that our Department of Economics has to offer! Some of the opportunities include Economics Ambassadors, Economics Club, Illini Women in Economics, Omicron Delta Epsilon (the economics honor society), the student-run tutoring center, and being a student Teaching Assistant. Each of these opportunities gives students a chance to make connections with other students in economics.

I got involved in the Economics Ambassadors, was a student Teaching Assistant, and worked for the department as part of the Economics Career Services team. With being involved in these opportunities within the department, I have been able to foster relationships with fellow students, advisors, and faculty.

3. We have access to undergraduate research opportunities

As undergraduates in the Department of Economics, we have the option to work on economics undergraduate research. I have had the pleasure of working with professor Elizabeth Powers on a study, and it has been a great learning experience! I have gained more knowledge both about the subject we are looking at as well as more about the whole research process—everything from how we make sure that the study we want to conduct is correctly formatted to asking the right questions and making relevant hypotheses. Each spring, students involved in research can present at the Research Symposium as well.

4. We have our own Career Services center

Within the Department of Economics, we have our own economics career center. With this center, we have access to many career services that are specifically for economics-related paths. Whether it be workshops about interviewing or negotiating your job offer, internship and job search, graduate school information, or anything else related to your future career, our Economics Career Services is a great resource to take advantage of.

In addition to working for Economics Career Services, I have been able to utilize the center for resume reviews before career fairs, reviewing my personal statement, and grad school application preparation, as well as attending many of their career workshops.

5. We are able to explore other interest areas

Even though we all love economics, it isn’t our only interest! Economics at Illinois allows you to earn your degree by taking many economics classes, but the degree also allows you to explore other interests that you have while at the university. When I learned I was also interested in learning more about leadership and business, I was able to explore these topics by pursuing minors in both leadership studies and business. In both of these minors, I have been able to connect how the classes relate to and enhance my major studies.

If you find that one of your interests does not have a designated minor, it is still very likely there is a class about it! I personally love coffee and was able to learn about it in “Agriculture & Science of Coffee (CPSC 117)”. Your economics degree will allow you to take advantage of opportunities like these while at Illinois!

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Ashley Drake