Jody Bland has advice for those considering graduate school.
“Prepare early and prepare often,” he says.
Jody speaks from experience. He earned his bachelors’ degrees in economics and finance in 2011 from the Sam M. Walton College of Business and is now a graduate student pursuing a master of science degree in economics and philosophy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He says his experiences in the Walton Honors Program allowed him to compete at the state and local level and on the international stage as well.
“As the only American in my graduate program, I’m constantly reminded of my roots,” he says. “Such a fact provides strong motivation to represent the Walton College and my state as best as my abilities allow.”
He says students wishing to pursue a highly technical graduate degree, such as economics or finance, should take as many math and statistics courses as are offered. Students should also begin preparing personal statements before their senior year to better compete with other applicants.
“The student-focused nature of the Walton Honors Program allowed me to receive individual-specific advice, guidance and recommendations that is unheard of at larger, more ‘prestigious’ universities,” he says.
Growing up about 40 miles south of Fayetteville in Alma, Jody says he became interested in public policy and had initially planned to go to law school following graduation. After his freshman year, however, he attended a summer program at the London School of Economics and fell in love with both the city and the school. He says by his senior year, he decided to forego law school when he realized graduate school would provide all of the education and opportunities necessary to achieve his goals.
As a Walton College undergraduate, Jody says he was active in politics both on campus and off. He served for two years as chapter president of the University of Arkansas’ Young Democrats and two years as chief justice of the Associated Student Government’s Judiciary. Off campus, he was involved in local- and state-level politics by working on campaigns, organizing fundraisers and serving as a Washington County representative on the Democratic Party of Arkansas State Committee. Outside of politics, he served a year as vice president for the Sigma Nu fraternity on campus.
After graduation, Jody interned with Amazon.com as a summer financial analyst. His duties involved developing an analysis of the facility-wide cost implications resulting from a recent corporate acquisition and developing a recommendation to alleviate any potential productivity losses associated with it.
After he graduates from the London School, Jody says he will begin work with Ernst and Young’s consulting practice in Dallas. He says he hopes to eventually follow his passion back into public service. Private sector experience with a top consultancy will provide him business insight that is essential to serve at the public level, he says.
Which brings another piece of advice, this time directed at undergraduate students considering enrolling in the Walton Honors Program.
“Do it,” he says. “You won’t regret the time you spend in the program. You’ll make great friends for life, be provided with ample networking opportunities and graduate into a situation that could literally put the world within your grasp.”