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Experience as Tour Guide Launched Economics Major into Technology Career

By Whitney Rich '20

Applying to colleges wasn't Brian Choe's '14 last experience with college admission processes. Today, it's his full-time career. Choe is a program manager for Technolutions, a company that helps colleges manage student recruitment and enrollment.

"It's the whole lifespan of a student and application cycle, so it is a really powerful tool that's all-encompassing," said Choe, who works from the company's Portland office.

There are over 1,000 colleges and universities that use Technolutions' flagship technology, Slate, including Whitman. Choe said Whitman was one of the first adopters on the West Coast of the program. The economics major got first-hand experience with Whitman's enrollment process as a student intern and tour guide in the Admission Office. After graduating, Choe took a job as an admission officer and worked in Walla Walla for two years. He was then promoted to the college's regional officer, located in San Francisco.

"We used Slate at Whitman, so it was a natural segue way to working for Technolutions," said Choe, who was among the first in his family to go to college.

His economics education gave him a foundation for how markets function. But he said the balance of interdisciplinary academics at Whitman, and being able to make connections between his major and other areas is what helped prepare him for his career.

"For me, economics is at the core of it all - it is the science of human choice, how we make choices, what influences us to make these choices and what kind of pressures are put on us as consumers," he said.

Throughout his career path, Choe has discovered the power of networking.

"I like to tell students that during the process of networking, you have very little to lose and so you should cast a wide net - reaching out to a friend of a friend or maybe someone you've never met, you lose nothing by just reaching out," he said.

In addition to networking, Choe says that he relies a lot on the "soft skills" in his work environment. These skills — like communication, organization and analytical thinking — were things he developed at Whitman in classes, campus jobs, and organizations he worked with.

"A lot of employers aren't looking for those hard skills, but more so whether you have the prowess to know how to find the answer if you don't know the answer. The ability to be resourceful and understanding that we are sharpening a lot of these soft skills to thrive in a world of ambiguity," Choe said.

Published on Sep 3, 2019
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