Arriving on campus relatively undecided, recent 2019 graduate Elise Odell initially had hopes of joining a pre-med track to become a doctor. This changed, however, when she realized she was more excited to enroll in economics courses than those related to biology or chemistry. Taking this as an indication of how she should spend her time at U-M, Elise pursued the discipline—hoping its broad applications and relevancy to a variety of industries would supplement any future career. She has been particularly drawn to microeconomics, finding its focus on understanding and predicting the decisions of individuals extremely valuable and interesting.

A busy student, along with participating in Greek Life on campus (the Sigma Kapa Sorority), Elise worked as a tutor during the academic year for student athletes in economics, statistics, and computer science for UM’s Academic Success Program. The past two summers, Elise interned for Analytic Partners, a global marketing analytics consultancy in Denver, where she gained a great understanding of how econometric thinking and strategy can be applied to fields outside of economics to deliver valuable insights to clients in a wide variety of industries.

Additionally, in her final year, Elise completed an economics honors thesis on the economic impact of the Detroit Demolition Program on home property values entitled The Effect of the Demolition of Derelict Housing on Home Property Values: Evidence from Detroit. The experience gave her the opportunity to combine her passions for data science and economics; gaining hands-on research experience. It also allowed for continued study of an issue she’s particularly passionate about: the revitalization of Detroit. Elise hopes her research and analysis will be a valuable contribution to Detroit policy considerations by providing insight into the true effectiveness of the program and its potential to help the city of Detroit rebound. This work in particular sparked her interest in the application of data analytics to assess the effectiveness of public policy for businesses as well as individuals, helping her realize she is much more interested in the applications of data science and econometrics to solve business/public policy questions as opposed to the theory behind it.

In her spare time, Elise volunteered for SafeHouse, Ann Arbor’s domestic violence shelter, as a receptionist—an eye-opening experience which allowed her to become involved in the greater Ann Arbor community outside of the university. She also received several awards upon graduation including Highest Honors in Economics, the Ferrando Honors Prize in Economics, and the Outstanding Undergraduate Major Award from the department of Statistics for graduating as one of the top statistics/data science majors in terms of academic achievement and involvement.

Looking forward, Elise hopes to continue using economics to supplement her career—wherever it takes her. In August, Elise will be joining McKinsey & Company as a Business Analyst in their Philadelphia office. She is very excited for the opportunity to apply her economics and data science expertise to advise management teams across both the public and private sector. She is open to the idea of returning to school in a few years to obtain an MBA with a focus in business analytics—or potentially even a joint MBA/MPP as she is also interested in public policy, but ultimately hopes to use her first few years at McKinsey to explore both fields. Through their Public Sector and Digital practices, Elise plans to gain a better feel for each sector and the respective types of work she could pursue.

To those considering economics, Elise would advise being patient: learning the basics of economic theory can be a bit boring, but economics gets much more interesting once you start applying the theory in elective courses. In her experience, Elise found most economics courses at U-M focus on building an economic mindset rather than just memorizing theory, which she anticipates being valuable in any career or field.