Steve Dahlke ('12)

Undergraduate Major:  Environmental Studies
Undergraduate Minor:  Biology, Hispanic Studies
Year of graduation from CSB/SJU: 2012


In what ways does graduate school differ from undergraduate school? (i.e. academic schedule, research hours, work hours, etc.)

The schedule for the first couple semesters in my PhD program are similar to the undergraduate schedule, taking a full load of classes, plus on campus employment- currently I am working as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate Principles of Economics Course.


What kind of projects are you working on?

As a teaching assistant, I lead weekly recitation sessions with about 50 undergraduate economics students. Being able to teach has been a useful and enjoyable experience, and I've gained a new appreciation for the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes by teachers.


What type of research do you do? 

As a first year my focus is currently on taking classes rather than research. However I am working on developing some research looking at rule differences across electricity markets and their impact on clean energy  and distributed resources.


What advice do you have for students interested in graduate school?

In terms of general advice for undergrads, I would recommend delaying grad school unless you already know it is necessary for your career of interest (for example- medical doctor, lawyer, academia). Otherwise I recommend getting some work experience before investing in more school. This will help you gain a better understanding of your career interests and the skill gaps you will improve on with a graduate degree. If you are unsure of how it will help your career, taking on more debt is not a smart investment.

For students interested in pursuing economics as a discipline, I recommend taking math classes. An undergraduate math degree will better prepare you for graduate level economics than most undergraduate economics degrees.


Why did you choose to continue your education?

I went back to school to improve my analytic skills and learn statistical modeling techniques commonly used across many industries and in academia. 


What types of things at CSB/SJU helped prepare you for post-graduate life?

I developed a strong work ethic while at CSB/SJU, and learned the importance of developing and maintaining strong relationships with professors, peers, and alumni.  I also gained strong writing skills from my coursework at CSB/SJU, which will be valuable when I begin working on my PhD thesis.


What would you like to do after graduate school?

 To be determined.