This article was contributed by Jenny Callison.
Perhaps you missed the play-by-play in this impressive tournament: after all, it didn’t get the same level of media coverage as the World Cup. But, in November, a team from University of North Carolina Wilmington placed second in the 19th annual College Fed Challenge, a national competition sponsored by the Federal Reserve System.
The competition asks students – most of whom are economics or finance majors – to step into the world of monetary policy and make recommendations to the nation’s central bank.
The six students from the Cameron School of Business outperformed teams from 82 other colleges and universities, first winning their regional competition and then taking on the other regional powerhouses. Princeton garnered the top spot overall; Dartmouth was third.
The second-place finish “speaks to caliber of students we have here at UNCW,” said Dr. Daniel Soques, associate professor of economics and finance and the team’s primary coach.
Team members Katie Davidson, Luke Felton, Juliette Girardin, Silvio Kellerman, Sinéad O’Duffy and Adam Ragan underwent rigorous preparation, according to Soques. He said what the students are basically asked to do is to give an assessment of where they think the economy is and where it’s headed.
“They are asked what the Fed should be doing in terms of making monetary policy. As part of their preparation they learn where to look for economic data, how to chart the data and what program to use, how to put their thoughts down on paper and craft their script, and how to respond to questions.”
The competition rules are very precise, as are the content requirements and the virtual competition timeframe. But even for teams that don’t come out on top, the benefits to participants are significant. Soques should know: as a UNCW senior in 2009 he was a member of the university’s first team, founded and coached until 2021 by Department of Economics and Finance Executive-in-Residence Dr. Thomas Simpson.
Returning to UNCW as a faculty member in 2016, Soques assisted Simpson until the latter’s retirement last year. This was Soques’ first experience coaching the team along with fellow economics faculty member Dr. Adam Jones.
“Students gain a deeper appreciation of assessing the economy; they become more judicious,” Soques observed of his team this year. “It’s the closest thing to what you would do in your job, in terms of assessment.”
Then there’s the value of learning to work as part of a team.
Participants come to “recognize each others’ strengths and their own weaknesses,” Soques said. “Some are better than others as presenters. Some are better at research. Some are better at responding to questions.
“At every student [job] interview, recruiters will ask about their experience in working as a team. This competition offers a perfect example for them to discuss.”
Monetary policy not a student’s thing? I like to point out that the College Fed Challenge is one of many real-world learning opportunities available to students at the Cameron School.
Applied learning touches all Cameron students in different forms and is a very important part of the college experience. Applied learning can consist of an internship, a study-abroad experience, a chance to work with a faculty member on research, a leadership position with a student organization, or a mentorship through our Cameron Executive Network. We also have a CFA-certified financial analyst team of students that manages a more than $2 million Truist investment fund for the school.
These experiences give classroom learning important context and prepare students for the expectations and opportunities ahead of them in the workplace.
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