The domino effect of success and social support
Hear about the extraordinary power of facing your fears and taking risks, while navigating the unpredictable nature of college and life
Speaker 1 [00:00:00] The views and opinions expressed in this podcast by the hosts and guests may or may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Miami University.
Speaker 2 [00:00:08] Freshman year I came in undecided.
Speaker 1 [00:00:11] I'm finance, entrepreneurship, anthropology.
Speaker 2 [00:00:13] I'm a senior architecture student.
Speaker 1 [00:00:14] I'm involved in the blockchain club here.
Speaker 2 [00:00:16] I'm very passionate about studying abroad.
Speaker 1 [00:00:18] Classes are going great.
Speaker 2 [00:00:19] And then obviously very involved with my sorority.
Speaker 1 [00:00:21] I'm thriving.
Meredith Aliff [00:00:26] Hi, I’m Meredith Aliff and this is Major Insight. This is the podcast where we talk college life with amazing students about how to find your place and purpose on campus. Never let the fear of rejection hold you back. That's one of the most valuable lessons Kailey Kraft has learned in college so far. As a quantitative economics major, Kailey has already interned with the Federal Reserve and participated in the extremely selective Fed Challenge competition. On campus, she's the co-president of Women in Economics, and she's interested in using economics to solve real world problems and labor and education. But in many ways, college can be even less predictable than a turbulent global economy. So we'll also talk about the extraordinary power of facing your fears, taking risks, and about the domino effect it can have on success and social support along the way.
[00:01:20] So the first question I'm going to ask you is who are you?
Kailey Kraft [00:01:24] So my name is Kailey Kraft. I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and I'm currently a junior quantitative economics major.
Meredith Aliff [00:01:32] Okay, cool. So you're economics now, but quantitative economics? So what is that?
Kailey Kraft [00:01:39] Yeah, so it's actually funny. Miami has three different economics majors. There's one through the business school where you take, like, all the business classes. There's one through arts and science where you take all economics classes and you can kind of supplement them with political science, philosophy, more of the humanities classes. And then there's quantitative economics, which is basically an econ major with a math minor. That's kind of the way I put it. So I take a lot of math classes and stats classes. Actually, I've been every single econ major. I like joke about it. I don't know if anyone else has done that. So kind of like through trial and error, I realized that quant econ made the most sense for me.
Meredith Aliff [00:02:18] Cool. Super cool. I had no idea that there were.
Kailey Kraft [00:02:21] Yeah.
Meredith Aliff [00:02:21] Multiple options there with econ.
Kailey Kraft [00:02:24] Learn something new everyday.
Meredith Aliff [00:02:24] Yeah. Do you have any teachers or classes that you would want to give a shout out?
Kailey Kraft [00:02:29] Sure. I really want to shout out two of my economics professors, Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Acton. Dr. Wolfe was super instrumental in kind of introducing me to the Fed and central banking and all that. And that's just been like a huge part of my journey as an econ major and as a student here -- through the Fed challenge and my internships, things like that. And then also, Dr. Acton has been a huge mentor and inspiration as a woman in economics. I think she's really focused on trying to advance women and underrepresented groups in the major and kind of encourage them to pursue the major in the field in general.
Meredith Aliff [00:03:06] Super cool. You said something about the Fed challenge. What is that?
Kailey Kraft [00:03:10] So the Fed challenge is basically this competition hosted by the Federal Reserve, which the Federal Reserve is the central bank of the US. So they kind of manage like the money supply. Right now. You hear a lot about inflation with the Fed, and then they also do research, things like that. So the College Fed challenge is hosted by the Fed, and teams at different colleges can present their suggestions on how monetary policy can be conducted. So they give a presentation on like the overview of the state of our economy and then on different like monetary policy decisions that can be made. So I did that my sophomore year. I was a research assistant for that, which I think was really cool. It definitely like introduced me to monetary policy and how it worked and then doing economic research in general. So that was kind of a platform to propel me into that kind of side of economics. But, yeah, I cannot overemphasize how instrumental the Fed's challenge was to kind of encouraging me to do research. I think it kind of led me to have like a leg up when I applied to the internships I was in. So ...
Meredith Aliff [00:04:16] Okay, so outside of class, what are you involved in on campus?
Kailey Kraft [00:04:21] Yeah, so on campus, I'm currently the co-president of Women in Economics. And I'm super excited about that. It's definitely been like a really great experience going from like a member as a freshman and getting guidance from the upper classmen, to like being the upperclassman who's trying to connect underclassmen to the resources and the support that women in the major really need. So I'm super passionate about that. So yeah.
Meredith Aliff [00:04:45] Love it. Do you have any like personal work that you're working on right now, anything that you're kind of gearing up to do because you're a junior this year, so you're kind of like coming up on the last year. Anything you want to get done?
Kailey Kraft [00:04:55] Yeah, for sure. So I'm actually trying to start talking with professors about starting my master's thesis honors thesis. And then also I'm gearing up for an internship this summer as a research intern at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Meredith Aliff [00:05:10] Nice. What does an internship like that look like?
Kailey Kraft [00:05:14] So I actually did one last year in New York, so it'll be pretty similar just at the Chicago Fed instead of the New York Fed. And basically what the economic research interns do is they work with economists. So economists will have questions that they want to answer, and then we'll kind of do a lot of like the data analytics, running regressions and kind of trying to make sense of the data that we manipulate. And then through that, we kind of report back to the economists and the economists look at it and they try to make sense of it with the theory that they know. So yeah, it's a super cool experience from what I've had so far, and I'm really excited to do it again, especially in my hometown.
Meredith Aliff [00:05:51] So cool. Yeah. You'll be closer to home.
Kailey Kraft [00:05:52] Yeah. That's nice.
Meredith Aliff [00:05:55] Were there any challenges that you would say you've had to overcome since being in college?
Kailey Kraft [00:06:00] Yeah. I mean, I think coming into my freshman year with COVID, I think just like the social aspect of transitioning to college is something that is hard, which I think just takes time. Another thing that like I've definitely always struggled with is the fear of rejection. And I think the only way you can really kind of overcome it is by putting yourself into spots where you can be rejected. And I guess a personal kind of anecdote where that happened was with the internship I got last summer, I heard about it through the econ department and I saw it. I started the application, like, this would be so cool. Because I really, really wanted to work at Federal Reserve. I thought, this is a next step for me. Like I want to do research at the Fed. So I started applying for it. Might that be really cool? And then once the like high wore off, I was like I live 700 miles away from New York. Like, I've never been that far away from my family. Like, I've never just been on my own in a city. This is just so much. So I was like, you know what? I don't want to do that. And also, like, it's super competitive. Super, super competitive. People from all over the country apply to this. I'm like, I'm not going to get it. I'm like, What's the point of this? And then if I do get it, then I will have to figure all this out.
Meredith Aliff [00:07:07] Almost like making up excuses in your head.
Kailey Kraft [00:07:09] Yeah! I was like, I don't need to do this. Like, I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to get it. And then actually one of my friends who was one of my teammates for the College Fed challenge, he like texted me. I think it was the night or two before it was due. And he's like ... he sent me the link. He's like, You need to apply to this. He's like, Just send in an application. He's like, You'll get it. I think it's hard to have confidence in yourself. And it's funny because you look at your friends and you're like "you can do this, why are you doubting yourself?" But then, like I do it to myself. I doubt myself all the time. So I think just having people in your corner is like, super important. And I think like that encouragement was so helpful. I literally was like, "Okay, fine." I submitted it the night it was due. Kind of on a whim. So I kind of submitted it off and I was like "oh, I'll never hear back." And then I got a call and they were like, "Yeah, we want to interview you." I was like, Oh, that's crazy. I go through everything and they're like, "Why do you want to work for the Fed?" I like interview with a bunch of economists. It was super scary. But They're so nice. I did that and I got the offer. And I was like, "Oh, this is real." And so I think it's funny too, because I kind of ... once I submitted, I'm like, "You know what? This will like, teach me about rejection." And kind of like teach me how to process rejection. I was like, Oh, I actually did not get rejected? So I think like it is ... I still do have to work on rejection because sometimes I don't get rejection where I'm like, "I'm just going get rejected." But I think just putting myself out there, like, I don't know if I would have done that in high school. So I think there has been growth with that, and it was really cool to kind of see it work out in a way that I never thought it would.
Meredith Aliff [00:08:32] Yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, inability to put yourself out there like that, desire to like, "oh, I just probably shouldn't do it" because of this, this and this. Like, that's almost like, I guess self-sabotage. Like you don't want the rejection. So you're like, I'm going to reject myself on this one, and just not do it. Because, you know, I'm sure it hurts less. But I think rejection is really important in college because there are a lot of people that I know in college who, until coming to college, just haven't really experienced rejection. And that's not a bad thing. It's just when you're growing up, you have your parents and you have your core group, and if you have siblings, you have your siblings, and you're kind of ... you don't have as many opportunities to fail as you do when all of a sudden you're alone in this place, in college, and you're kind of trying to navigate it on your own. But also, if you think about it, if you hadn't put yourself out there and met that friend, you wouldn't have gotten that extra push, to then put yourself out there. And to do the application, like it's just a domino effect.
Kailey Kraft [00:09:34] Exactly.
Meredith Aliff [00:09:35] Get out there, meet people. If you don't click with people, that's fine. But you will find the right people who will encourage you to do the hard things in college.
Kailey Kraft [00:09:45] For sure. Yeah. And like, really, if I didn't take that first step to, like, talk to my professor, Doctor Wolfe and be like, "Oh, the Fed challenge sounds cool. Like, could I possibly do it?" Then I would have never, like, met those people. I've never been, like, had something to put on my resume that the Fed would be interested in. So absolutely. It's really cool.
Meredith Aliff [00:10:00] So cool. It is. It is. If you could talk to yourself, go back to senior in high school or freshman year, you're coming in. What would you say to yourself in the position that you are now to kind of give yourself some advice about the next years of your life?
Kailey Kraft [00:10:15] Yeah, this is kind of basic advice, but I really don't think you can like say it enough is like everything will work out. Don't stress out. I think throughout high school I was so, so stressed out, so focus on like getting into a top college and like doing well, getting straight A's, taking every AP class. And I think going into college, I was hoping that I could still have great academic achievements and be involved, things like that, but like not put myself into like that kind of pressure cooker of stress that like I did to myself. Like, my parents didn't do that. They're like, We're proud of you no matter what. And I was just like, I have to do this. Everyone's like, "Kailey, take six steps back. Like, we do not need to be this crazy about sophomore year English," you know?
[00:10:59] And so I think even freshman year, it was kind of an adjustment, just trying to like realize, yes, I need to focus on my studies, but I also need to have fun. I think just kind of like really focusing on the fact that college is such this unique experience in your life. You're with all these people. You never going to be this close to all your friends. You're never going to be able to walk anywhere. The amount of responsibility you have is like so low compared to like being an adult. So I think just kind of trying to make sure that I got the more social aspect of college and just put myself out there and, you know, not fear rejection and just realize that like, it's not that deep, Like it sounds stupid, but it's not that deep. But that one test that you get a C is not that deep. You'll be fine. I think just ... if I would have thought about that in high school, like I think I could have still, like, done the things I did, but, like, maybe had more enjoyment, like, I could have, like, let loose a little more. I don't know, like, made more social connections, been involved in more things. Not just for my college resumé.
Meredith Aliff [00:12:01] Yeah. And I think one thing. I went to a high school where there were a lot of students that were very similar, like, you know, really pushing to get into the top schools and like, study, study, study all the time and fully were expecting to just keep that up when they got to college. And I think what needs to be known by everybody coming into colleges, you can think that all you're going to do is sit and study and that's how you'll succeed in college. But those people will not enjoy their college experience. They won't leave knowing that they've, like, gotten the most out of it.
Kailey Kraft [00:12:37] Yeah.
Meredith Aliff [00:12:38] You have to immerse yourself fully into all of it. Like there's so many of these, you know ... If you can't join an organization that's so fun for you ... Like, I wanted to be in acapella group because I love to sing and I didn't want to study that, but do things that you think are fun and you'll meet people and you'll make connections and leadership opportunities and all this stuff, but it's leadership opportunities and things that you actually enjoy. So you're not just sitting and studying all the time. Because that's really not what college is at all.
Kailey Kraft [00:13:07] Yeah. And I think I've especially tried to do that. Like, I'm taking like a ceramics class right now and a horseback riding class and just kind of trying to, like, find that balance. And I don't know if you've seen the movie Booksmart?
Meredith Aliff [00:13:19] I don't know if I have.
Kailey Kraft [00:13:20] But it's basically about these two girls, their senior year, and they realize, like, you know, they get into I think like Harvard and Yale, or something, and they're like, "well, you know, we made all these sacrifices, but like, we're going to these top schools." And they realize it like everyone else who, like, did not take high school that seriously also got into those schools. But like they just kind of sacrifice their entire lives for that, and then they, like, have this whole crisis over a night. And that was like so relatable because I was like, "wow, like, you can't have fun and, like, do all this, and not be hyper focused and still have great outcomes."
Meredith Aliff [00:13:49] Definitely, Definitely. Thinking back to the last three years that you've been here, what is the single best decision that you have made in college.
Kailey Kraft [00:14:00] Besides just like the people I met? I think that's hard, though, to tell people, like, "meet great people that you'll love." That's something that just kind of happens. Yeah, but I would say, like college experience-wise was joining the Fed challenge. That just completely changed kind of like my trajectory of what I wanted to do. I think just going up to my professor and be like, "Can I help with this?" I figured he'd say "no." And he was like, "Sure, you can be a research assistant." And then, like meeting those upperclassman who, like, had more experiences that they could share with me. Like, "this is how you can, you know, do economic research." And "this is the path you have to take." And then just getting that experience to put on my resume, which propelled me into getting this internship, which helped me get to the next internship, which has like set me up in like a good spot to be a competitive applicant for like PhD programs. I think that that decision, I cannot overstate how happy I am I did that because it just really like had everything kind of fall into place.
Meredith Aliff [00:14:55] Yeah. It started that domino effect. Like you said earlier, like totally just the beginning of that, like, all these other things that you've now been able to do because of that one ...
Kailey Kraft [00:15:03] Exactly.
Meredith Aliff [00:15:04] Decision to be a part of the Fed challenge.
Kailey Kraft [00:15:06] Yeah. And It doesn't have to be that for everyone. Like, it could be something completely different, but I think everyone can kind of find their version of the Fed challenge. They can find something that will be that, like, first domino that pushes. And I think it's really important. And you might not find that until you're a junior. It doesn't matter when you find it, but like when you do it, like, feels so cool and, like, feels so validating looking back and be like, "wow, like I did that." Like "I put myself out there and it actually worked."
Meredith Aliff [00:15:29] Yeah, that's so cool. Well, do you have anything else before we close out today?
Kailey Kraft [00:15:35] I don't think so. Thank you for having me. This was so fun!
Meredith Aliff [00:15:38] Of course, yeah, we have a we have a good time here.
Kailey Kraft [00:15:40] Yeah, Yeah.
Meredith Aliff [00:15:41] Well, thank you so much. And it was so nice talking with you.
Kailey Kraft [00:15:45] Yeah, so nice to talk to you.
Meredith Aliff [00:15:49] Kailey Kraft is a quantitative economics major at Miami University. After graduation, she hopes to help solve real world problems in education and monetary policy as an economics teacher and researcher. And thank you for listening to Major insight. If you enjoyed this podcast, share it with your friends or anyone interested in navigating college life. Many more episodes are now available wherever podcasts are found.
Major Insight is a roadmap for college students who wish to find their place and purpose on campus. Each episode features real stories with real students who are successfully navigating 21st century university life.