Joseph Melkonian : Graduate Student at Harvard Kennedy School (First Year PhD candidate in Public Policy)

"I most valued the approachability of Davis professors, the breadth of classes offered, and the opportunity to gain firsthand research experience."

Name: Joseph Melkonian

Major: Economics and International Relations 

Current position: Graduate student, first year PhD candidate in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School

What did I most value from UC Davis economics education?

I most valued the approachability of Davis professors, the breadth of classes offered, and the opportunity to gain firsthand research experience. 

Many of my professors loved to teach and engage with questions on material and the economics profession. The breadth of classes offered by the economics program (from economic history to econometrics and everything in between) showed me that I could use economics to analyze intriguing social questions. 

Finally, the opportunity to dip my toes into research whet my appetite to pursue economic research as a career. My experiences with the honors thesis program and on-campus research assistant jobs also opened doors to amazing employment and graduate school opportunities after graduation.

Any helpful opportunities or advice for undergraduates in the program?

I would recommend undergrads engage with their professors. Ask questions, go to office hours, get to know professors whose classes you like. Try to think about things through an economic perspective and see if that jives with you. Take a variety of econ classes which sound interesting. Don’t feel pressured to specialize or have everything figured out. 

Take the opportunity to get exposure to research as an undergrad. If research sounds interesting, look into the honors thesis program for senior year, and/or see if you can get an on-campus research assistant job during the school year. Those are some of the best ways to discover if research is for you. 

Most importantly, have fun in college! Enjoy yourself! Hit the books and learn the material, but also go and try out some fun PE classes, hang out with friends on the quad, join an IM team, bike the Davis loop, check out Putah Creek, join a club or two, expand your horizons, and pet a cow. You’re only an undergrad once, and there’s nothing quite like being an Aggie.