We caught up with Kate Barhydt to find out about her experiences at Lewis & Clark, what she is doing now, and her advice for current Lewis & Clark students. Kate graduated from Lewis & Clark in 2014 after earning the World Philosophy Award from the Economics Department. She currently is working at the Humphreys Group, a boutique wealth management firm in San Francisco.
What have you been doing since Lewis & Clark? How did you become connected to this opportunity?
Immediately following my May 2014 graduation I took part in a collaboration with LC ceramics professor Gabriel Parque to produce a line of handmade ceramic cups. Now that I am back in San Francisco, I am working full time for the Humphreys Group, a boutique wealth management firm. I became connected with this opportunity through my San Francisco network – I had reached out to the president of the firm during my junior year at LC expressing interest in her work and subsequently spent the summer before my senior year working for the firm. That summer lead to my becoming acquainted with the Humphreys Group culture and values, and instilled in me a keen enthusiasm for and interest in the work itself. Getting to know the team and what they do enabled me to see myself working with them in a more permanent and integral way, and we remained in touch until I was offered a position during my senior year.
How has your Lewis & Clark education contributed to your experiences? What has been the “real-world” application of your economics degree?
First and foremost, developing relationships with my professors and the very small classes I attended within the Economics department have both contributed to my experiences immensely. Being in a learning environment that encourages dialogue and forces students to learn to think for themselves informed how I relate to and interact with my bosses (I have three!), and very importantly, step up to take initiative. Taking a rigorous and at times unrelenting course load prepared me for the hectic times so that I am now able to focus on complex analytical tasks while remaining at ease. At this point I even relish when my workload gets ramped up as my time in the Econ department helped me learn how to challenge myself. Taking a variety of challenging classes (from macro to Radical Political Economics to econometrics) honed my mental flexibility and now allows me to see projects and challenges with a wider perspective, without losing analytical rigor.
What was your favorite class, economics or otherwise, during your time at Lewis & Clark? Why?
It is not possible to name one favorite class – but I have to at least mention Cliff’s Principles class as well as the Industrial Revolution class (taught by a visiting professor when I took it, though normally and I’m sure fantastically taught by Cliff). A class that will always stand out for me was Urban Economics, taught by Art. The subject matter was fascinating and Art leads the class with the same uncompromising rigor and expectations that drew me to Econ in the first place.
What advice would you give to current students about the job application process and post-grad life?
Talk to as many people as you can who have careers that you find interesting and or inspiring. Ask professors about their own post – grad trajectories and bounce ideas off them. Do not be afraid or intimidated to reach out to people you don’t know to ask for an informational interview or invite them to coffee so you can pick their brain or find inspiration. Do your research beforehand and ask informed questions to let them know you’ve educated yourself about their work or their company. Set aside a tiny amount of time for yourself regularly to devote to this, starting as soon as you can. Think of this time as an investment in yourself, your future and your mental well-being. Yes, on Saturday afternoon this is just as important as going to the climbing gym or happy hour or even getting ahead on your term paper – the weekend always flies by and each one does count! No one wants to be saddled with an additional worry during their senior year, yet for many this ends up being the reality. By dedicating a little time to your post-grad life (once a week or once every two weeks for example) you can chip away at the potential stress of the great unknown waiting on the other side of your thesis presentation.
What would you say to prospective students who are thinking about becoming economics majors?
If you are interested in engaging with the world in a clear, thoughtful and useful way, this may be the subject for you. I came away from my experience having learned how to truly stretch my mind to enter new territory, exploring and occasionally conquering entirely unknown landscapes. As a dear classmate of mine put it, “Some departments talk about what’s wrong in the world, Economics provides tools for actually changing what’s wrong.”