What's it like working at a consulting firm?


Name: Dennis Campbell
Graduation date: May 2015
Major: Financial Economics

What have you done since leaving Rochester?
After leaving Rochester, I worked as a researcher at NERA economic consulting for 3 years. Currently, I am in the first year of an economics PhD program at the University of Virginia.

What is the nature of your work?
At NERA, I worked in the antitrust division primarily conducting research to support expert testimony for litigation. The research would be incorporated into expert reports and testimony provided by economists to assist courts in understanding antitrust cases. In my PhD program, I am currently taking the typical first-year courses but plan to conduct research in industrial organization beginning this summer.

What does a typical day consist of? What do you do? When do you start? How late do you work?
It is difficult to pin down what exactly a typical day would consist of because there was a lot of variety in the work. It could range from reading documents and testimony, analyzing data in programs like STATA or R,  drafting research summaries, meeting with clients, or a combination of them all. I typically got to the office at around 9:30 a.m. and would work until around 7 p.m. or later if a report was due soon.

What's the best way of learning more about the work you do?
The best way would be reading articles and court opinions discussing antitrust cases and the role that experts played in them. 

Have you found that the training you received as an undergraduate has prepared you well for the demands of the workplace? 
Yes, I felt that the training I received prepared me well for my role at NERA and for my graduate studies.

Looking back at your undergraduate days at Rochester, what courses or activities were particularly valuable for your current position?
There are a few classes that stand out as being particularly valuable for my work at NERA. I think that Principles of Economics covers nearly all you need to know to have a working knowledge of how to apply economics in business and practical settings. Econometrics was very helpful for learning how to construct/interpret models and to use STATA. As far as my graduate studies, all of the math courses I took were invaluable and Professor Landsburg's topics in microeconomic theory class has really helped me in my first year micro courses.

The Rochester Curriculum provided learning opportunities in fields other than your major.  Have you found this broader educational experience to be valuable? 
Yes, the Rochester Curriculum allowed me to take math and political science classes in addition to economics that have helped me both in my work at NERA and in my graduate studies. The political science classes gave me a lot of experience writing and formulating arguments, and the math classes have been invaluable so far in my graduate studies. 

In retrospect, were there things you wish you did more of?
I wish I had taken a few computer science courses and learned more programming skills. I also wish I had completed a senior thesis and engaged more in research.

What do you think is the next logical career step for you?
I hope that the next step for me will be earning my PhD. After that, I hope to enter academia or return to consulting.

Is there anything that you would like to advise our majors today about their future?
An economics major allows you to do a wide variety of things, so make sure you choose something that you will enjoy and that will challenge you.