Economics graduate Matt Segrist to apply lessons learned at UMSL in new job at Post Holdings
Matt Segrist was quickly approaching a familiar point so many other graduating students reach, when he would have to confront his anxiety over the uncertainty of what might happen next.
It was late March, and Segrist didn’t yet have any job prospects for after college.
“There’s just always going to be a natural terror to that,” Segrist said. “I’ve been in school 17 years. Every year before this, maybe there’s a summer internship or I work a night job or something like that, but at the end of the day, I always knew that the next year my primary focus would continue to be school.”
Not so this time with Segrist completing his bachelor of science and master of arts degrees in economics at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
But before he started losing sleep at night worrying about the future, fate smiled on him – with a little help from Department of Economics chair Anne Winkler.
An economics alumnus working with Post Holdings Inc. had emailed Winkler looking for potential job candidates.
Winkler, who regularly advocates on behalf of students searching for jobs, forwarded him three or four resumes, including Segrist’s. He received a call about the position, scheduled an interview and not long after that meeting accepted the job.
“Application to offer was like 2½ weeks,” Segrist said. “It was insane. It was the most whirlwind job thing of my life.”
So after he walks across the Mark Twain stage during Saturday afternoon’s commencement ceremony, Segrist will soon find himself walking in for his first day as an enterprise intelligence insight analyst for the publicly traded St. Louis-based company, perhaps best known for its Post Consumer Brands cereals.
Segrist wasn’t thinking that far ahead when he enrolled at UMSL five years ago, though he was further along his career path than many of his peers having already settled on majoring in economics.
“It’s very unusual,” Professor Michael Allison said. “Economics isn’t one of those things you see on TV. It’s not one of those courses you take in high school – or at least not many of the students. So when students come to college, they don’t know what economics is.
“Sometimes they’ll take it because it’s required for their major that they think they’re going to do, and sometimes they take it for distribution requirements, and they find, ‘You know, this is something interesting. This is something that’s fun to do and enjoyable.’ And they change their minds about what they want to major in.”
Segrist, who grew up in Webster Groves and was homeschooled, came to the dismal science sooner than most after choosing to study the subject to fulfill a needed elective as a high school senior.
“When reading the textbook, it did a really good job of posing these really incisive questions,” Segrist said. “Then it presented them in a way that was like, ‘Whoa, I want to think about that.’”
He continues to be fascinated by the complex relationships studied in economics, and he’s shown an aptitude for coming up with solutions.
Segrist excelled in his Principles of Economics courses – so much so that Allison approached him about working as a tutor in the Economics Resource Center as a sophomore.
It’s a job he’s maintained ever since.
“He seemed like someone who would be able to help other students – that he could explain things well and be useful,” Allison said of first recruiting Segrist. “He’s an excellent tutor. Students like him and seek him out.”
Segrist also has served as a teaching assistant for Professor Dave Rose while choosing to be part of the BS/MA Dual Degree program, which allows students to complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. He received a Curators’ Scholarship, the Eugene J. Meehan Scholarship and the Economics Alumni Scholarship during his time as an undergraduate and a Graduate Tuition Scholarship while he completed his master’s.
His work the past two years toward his Certificate in Applied Econometrics and Data Analysis might have been his most significant preparation for securing a job like the one he landed at Post Holdings. It’s taught him to apply statistical methods to economic data.
He will be tasked with doing data analysis using Python and Tableau software to try to help inform management decisions.
“UMSL definitely focuses pretty hard on the data analytics, econometrics concepts that they claim – and now having applied for jobs I would agree – is a legitimately employable skill set,” Segrist said. “It’s really where they push you in a good way because it’s as valuable a skill set as I think that you can have coming out of college.”
Segrist said he isn’t alone among his classmates in reaping the benefits right as he gets ready to graduate.
“The job opportunities have been really cool, well paying and not tons and tons of downtime,” he said. “I didn’t realize that coming in, but man, if I was trying to sell to a freshman one of the reasons to get an econ degree, the job market has been really open to a whole host of different things.”
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