On Feb. 1, 2024, Professor Joseph Joyce and the Economic Student Association (ESA) presented Joyce’s annual lecture “Career Paths in Economics.” The lecture covered the various career prospects for Wellesley students in the economics major or minor program.
Before the lecture, Joyce explained his motivations behind the presentation.
“The genesis of this talk came years ago when I was teaching ECON 102 and other courses. I had students ask me ‘What can I do if I continue with economics?’ which is a perfectly fair question to ask. And I would answer. Then another student would come and say ‘What can I do with economics?’ … I was giving the same rote speech over and over again, so I decided that it would be a lot more efficient if I simply did a talk based on what I’m saying to people,” Joyce said.
Joyce also emphasized that the intention of the lecture was not to promote the economics department, but rather to provide students with insight on how students could utilize their economics education.
“I am not here to sell you on the [economics] major. That is a personal decision that only you can make. I’ll give you some information that you might find relevant … but I’m serious when I say I’m not here to say you have to do this or you should do this. It’s your decision, not your parents’, not your roommates’, not your friends’, [but] your decision. Whichever way you go, I certainly will support you,” Joyce said.
The first part of the lecture went over the diverse fields an economics student could work in.
“What do economics majors do? Here’s the one slide answer: everything. I’m serious. I’ve been here a long time, I know a lot of alumni, and literally, it always amazes me the sort of things they do,” Joyce said.
Joyce specifically provided information about the fields of finance, management consulting, economics consulting, government agencies, NGOs, research organizations, data analysis, journalism, public office and public health. He included examples of various companies and organizations within each field, as well as the skills needed to succeed in each field.
Joyce also provided career advice, encouraging students to network and think strategically about their future.
“I want you to think in the long term. Yes, you’re looking for a job when you graduate, I get it, but you should, at the same time, think about what will I be doing in two years? Five years? How will this particular job help me achieve that goal? You should always be thinking strategically, in terms of … what will that job help prepare me to do?” Joyce said.
Casey Hurley, the advisor for careers in Business, Consulting, Finance & Marketing at Career Education, was invited on stage to speak briefly about how students can use Career Education resources to connect to the fields discussed.
“This is an economics-centric group, but I want to dispel the notion that if you’re an [economics] major at Wellesley, you can go into consulting or finance. I think that they have really good brand recognition, they’re great careers … but there’s so many other things you can do, as you saw today,” said Hurley.
Throughout the lecture, Joyce highlighted the importance of mentorship, encouraging students to both look for mentors and prepare to help future mentees.
“You work with good economists … [and] that’s good for you because you want to work with smart people who are exposing you to new ways of thinking, new lines of thought, new econometric techniques, you want to be part of that cutting edge,” Joyce said.
Joyce left listening students with a piece of advice, “Help those next in line … The day’s coming when you’ll be an alumni, and we hope that you are willing to share your experiences and knowledge with other people … you should be ready to talk to people in the future who are thinking about following the road that you traveled on.”