Senior Joshua Garrett began his studies at Notre Dame considering a life ahead as an engineer, but two introductory economics courses changed his thinking. Impressed with the caliber of the teaching and his classmates—and engaged by the intricacies of the subject matter—Garrett jumped ship into economics.
He has not been disappointed. Economics has "really helped shape the way I think about issues," Garrett says, adding that the discipline offers a strong analytical base to approach any subject and that he appreciates how his economics major has exposed him to a variety of other academic fields and contemporary topics.
According to Associate Professor James Sullivan, Garrett has already put his analytical skills to exemplary use.
"Josh was among the very best students in my 'Advanced Labor' class, which was particularly impressive because he was the only sophomore in a class of mostly seniors," Sullivan says. "He is well positioned to thrive in whatever post-baccalaureate path he chooses, whether it be business or graduate school."
As a junior, Garrett, who is also majoring in finance, became co-president of Notre Dame's Economics Club. His academic journey to this point has included some other interesting landmarks, as well. Over the summer, for instance, he interned with an energy consulting firm "back home" in Minnesota, where he drew on the analytical thoroughness he has developed through his coursework.
"In my internship I went into an industry—energy—which I had little knowledge about," he says, "but I was able to learn quickly and find ways to provide value to the firm."
Garrett is confident this skill set will prove a great asset when he enters the job market. "I can show employers I have these great quantitative skills but also get to show my communication skills and overall analytical thinking, too," he says. "An economics major prepares you well for a wide range of careers."
If his internship broadened his horizons in a figurative sense, then spending a semester abroad did so quite literally. While studying in Australia, Garrett traveled throughout that country and New Zealand and also got to see a little of Southeast Asia.
"One important thing I learned is that there is more to the world than the United States, and the best time to see and experience new places is when you are younger and don't have to worry about work or a family."
Whatever kind of professional career his studies lead him to, he believes economics is one of the best ways to give back to a community.
"Economics puts some of the most influential individuals in a position where they can use their knowledge about the economy to combat the growing concerns of poverty, environmental health, and educational development," Garrett says. "I can see myself finding a way to do the same in the future."
Josh Weighs in …
His favorite economist
"Adam Smith. He is basically the founder of modern economics. So many things in the discipline today are a result of his innovative thinking."
Most useful website
"I read The Wall Street Journal online regularly. It keeps you up-to-date on the economy. Also, I would recommend becoming familiar with EconLit.org to help with any projects or papers."
Most useful magazine
"The Economist. It will keep you up-to-date with current events as well as help you learn how some of the things you read about or see in class play out in the real world."
Advice for incoming economics students
"Work with the Career Center early and often, and study abroad if given the opportunity. Take a wide range of classes, and find an area or topic that you like. Don't take classes because they are easy; take them because you find them interesting or you want a challenge."