Senior Spotlight: Gavin Johnson on Economics and the Transfer Experience

Gavin Johnson, BA '24
Gavin Johnson, BA '24

Gavin Johnson transferred to the University of Minnesota with a love for economics, and is graduating with a burgeoning interest in development and consulting work, and a desire to make the world a better place. 

When I spoke to Gavin, both in our interview and during the Washington DC Career Trip, I was inspired by his enthusiasm and curiosity. Gavin leads with his values, goes above and beyond to make classmates feel welcome and included, and is interested in using his Economics background to build a career in international development. He currently plans to spend some time in the workforce before deciding whether or not to pursue a graduate degree.

Tell me what brought you to the University of Minnesota?

So in community college, I fell in love with economics. I had a fantastic professor there. And yeah, the U was a fantastic fit for economics. I know that it is a great macro economic program, and I decided to come here.

So you graduated from Eastview High School in 2020 and attended Inver Hills Community College before transferring to the University of Minnesota in 2022. Was it challenging to acclimate as a transfer student?

I did the LLCs, Living Learning Community, that definitely made the experience a lot better. I got to meet a bunch of other transfer students. And that was, you know, when you have a group of people that also want to be in that LLC, there's kind of a like-mindedness in terms of like, "Oh, I'm doing this, I want to make friends. And I want to get to know people." So I think just having that sense of community really just kind of allowed me to flourish on that front. 

I did the associate of arts transfer path from a community college here, so that fit in pretty well, curriculum-wise, in terms of me getting all the credits that I needed. And my mom certainly wanted me close to home. But for me, I think it was just, it was an excellent school. Affordability, accessibility, and excellence are why I came here.

Over spring break you attended the Washington, DC career exploration trip with some other Economics students. What did you get out of that experience?

I mean, the camaraderie with fellow econ students, of course, is wonderful. Or getting to know a few that, you know, I talked to a bit in classes, but like really getting to know them. That was, of course, a pleasure. 

Getting to see all the different sides of government and seeing the different avenues into government was also a plus. It was good to know which career tracks were more feasible. For someone like me, you know, this is my final semester, there's no more internships. With international development, I learned most jobs require a master’s degree, which I’m now thoroughly contemplating. I just don’t know what grad school looks like for me yet.

When you think about your future career, what do you imagine for yourself?

I really am into the international development thing. I've definitely been looking for where I could carve out a space in that arena, I think. Consulting and finance might be more of a long term thing. But I think right now, I just, there is a passion I have just for trying to make the world a better, more bright place. 

You seem to always take a positive approach, I noticed that you're a very positive person?

I do my best, I think. I think when you put positivity out into the world, it will come back to you. It doesn't always work right away, but I think if it's something we all try to do in the long run, we'll see more of it.

Any words of wisdom for current students, or students considering attending UMN for an economics degree?

I mean, for me, I chose economics because it's a degree that combines a good amount of how to think and also retains an element of practicality where you can apply what you've learned to real life situations. And I know that the economic mindset that the U tries to engender in its students can be broadly applied to more than just the discipline of straight economics. It can be applied to so many industries and fields, and I think that's really helpful to consider.

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