Tom Hoffman '11

Current Job: Commodities Merchant, Cargill

What inspired you to become an economics major?

I chose economics mostly because I think it necessarily tries to define how the world works. It is part psychology, part business, part sociology, and it's needed everywhere. When I was a sophomore, the 2008 financial crisis hit, and I just wanted to know why and how something like that could happen. I took a course on financial markets and loved it.

What advice do you have for students considering a major in economics?

Business can be learned on any job. Accounting is a great skill, but can sometimes lack creativity. I think economic theory changes the way you think about work, and life in general.

How have you used your degree after graduation?

Every day. I am constantly analyzing supply and demand as it relates to global agricultural commodity trade. I look at supplies of corn, wheat and soybeans; I'm analyzing and trading physical products as well as futures and ocean freight on a daily basis. I couldn't think of a more useful degree in what I am doing now.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome?

Besides trying to play soccer in Rec-Specs as a kid, I would say having professional adults take me seriously. As a young person in the work force, it takes more time and effort to prove what you know and what you can learn. On the other hand, you also realize you don't know much at all...either way, it's a challenge.

What is the highlight of your time at CSB/SJU?

I have so many great memories. If we're talking economics, I remember some long nights in the library lamenting with our whole Econ 384 class. I also enjoyed the time spent at the Reef eating dinner with friends after track practice. Everyone had busy and different schedules, but we all made time to sit down at dinner and catch up. It was energizing. I miss that camaraderie.