Finding her way to finance

By Megan Bradshaw on Dec. 7, 2018

“Be willing to learn and ask specific questions. Take advantage of networking possibilities, take the initiative and follow up. You want them to remember you.”

Kai Johnson

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Towson University senior Kai Johnson took that advice when finding her way to her major.

“I love to shop,” she said with a laugh.

“In a class I learned about the field of behavioral economics—analyzing economic data using insights into human behavior to explain economic decision-making,” she continued. “I wondered if there were any professors at TU who researched it and could help me explore it further.”

Learn about the economics major

The Honors College student researched her professors and found associate professor Melissa Groves. Johnson credits Groves with opening her eyes to research and presentation opportunities as well as steering her toward beneficial classes Johnson may not have otherwise considered. Groves has also played a key role in guiding Johnson through the research process.

After Groves’ encouragement, Johnson presented her work at the International Atlantic Economic Conference in New York City in late October. She was one of only a handful of undergraduates invited to present.

“My research looks at consumption pattern differences between college students and the average adult, particularly the economic impact of social media on consumer demand and the relationship between consumer demand and college major choice,” Johnson said.

That’s a bit of a left turn for someone who came to TU as a molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics (MB3) major and wasn’t looking to do research.

The Salisbury, Maryland, native chose TU because of how friendly the community is and the fact it’s “an exciting time to be here with lots of opportunities.” Johnson applied directly to the Honors College because she was looking for a challenge and loved the multidisciplinary nature of the curriculum.

In addition to serving as the marketing student director for the Honors College, Johnson is also the president of the Undergraduate Research Club. She recently completed an internship at Morgan Stanley—research and experiential learning being core components of the Honors curriculum.

“I think a really important part of the club is that it helps people see the value in research. Some people think research is just for science majors, but anyone and everyone can do it,” she said.

Johnson learned about internship opportunities at Morgan Stanley when an Honors alum and current employee at the finance company came back to campus to speak to students. For 10 weeks this past summer, Johnson worked as part of the cash settlement foreign transaction team doing data analysis.

“The best parts parts—aside from actually doing the work—were the networking and job shadowing and getting to see Morgan Stanley’s core values at work,” she said.

Johnson’s hard work and initiative paid off; she has accepted the full-time job offer from Morgan Stanley and starts after graduating in May 2019.

She says accepting the offer is “an awesome feeling” and advises other students to make the most of their internships.

“Be willing to learn and ask specific questions,” Johnson said. “Take advantage of networking possibilities, take the initiative and follow up. You want them to remember you.”