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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Economics

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Nichole Alexander Year Graduated: 2014

Current Employer/University: United States General Services Administration – Public Buildings Service

What do you do in your current position? Or what   program are you at currently?
I am the Region 8 Portfolio Strategist and I work on the asset management side of the portfolio management department.  In this position I basically manage the financial metrics of the federal government’s real estate portfolio in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.  This encompasses all of the federal buildings that the other government agencies use to fulfill their missions, such as office buildings, lab space, federal courthouses, post offices, and border stations, among others.

How did you become interested in Economics?
I actually started undergrad as a Spanish education major, but after I took intro to microeconomics I realized that I loved every aspect of economics and so I switched majors.  I am particularly interested in income inequality, poverty reduction, social mobility, and education policy.

What is the most unique aspect of the DU Economics Program?
I really like that DU approaches economics from a heterodox perspective and that economic history and qualitative analysis are a big part of the program, not just quantitative analysis.  I think this creates a very well-rounded education in economics and fosters critical thinking.

What did you enjoy most in studying economics and your time at DU?
I really like the economics program is small enough that each student has the opportunity to build relationships with all of the professors that can last after the program ends.  I also really like that there are enough electives for each student to take a few classes that are particularly interesting to them, outside of the mandatory classes for the program.

What was one aspect of DU that helped you find your career interest or has been important to your career?
The wide range of economic ideas that I was exposed to through the program along with the ability to tailor the course of study to fit my interests really allowed me to narrow down what I wanted to do for my future career.  I want to be an economic policy analyst focusing on inequality and social mobility, and prior to starting the program I really had no idea that job was even an option; I knew that I wanted to do something with poverty reduction, but I didn’t know much beyond that point. 

What was your favorite course in Economics?
Advanced Micro.

What advice would you give to current students about careers in Economics?
Make sure you don’t pass up any opportunities, even the unlikely ones, because you really don’t know where that path will lead you.  I’ve had the opportunity to talk to quite a few CEOs and to ask them about their career paths and that is the advice I got from almost every single one of them.  If you jump at the opportunities that come your way and even make opportunities for yourself, your career may follow an unexpected path, but you will probably be much better off in the end.  The current president and CEO of American Savings Bank, the largest bank in Hawaii, was an electrical engineering major and started his career as an engineer for GE; by taking opportunities that came his way and not being afraid to branch out, he now has a very successful career that he loves, and he lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I took a job at GSA that wasn’t very econ-related, but it got my foot in the door and since then I’ve been promoted a few times and I now have an economist position.  It still isn’t the field of economics that I would ideally like to work in, but I am gaining valuable experience and standing within the government structure, which will pay off in the end and help me get my dream job in the future.