Name: Michael Burdick
Policy Area of Concentration: Tax and Budget, Financial Services Regulation
GSPP Graduation Year: 2015
Undergraduate School: University of Arkansas
Personal History: Raised in a small town in southeast Arkansas. Studied Finance at the University of Arkansas. Worked at Wells Fargo US Corporate Banking Group in San Francisco after college.
What attracted you to GSPP?
Initially, I was interested in GSPP because of the respect I had for UC-Berkeley as a premier public research university. After learning more about the Goldman School specifically, I was intrigued by the focus of the curriculum on developing quantitative analytical skills and the strong sense of community that the school fosters. Location was also a significant factor as I preferred to stay in the Bay Area for graduate school.
How did you prepare for the GSPP application and admissions process?
I spent a considerable amount of time studying for the GRE as I had not developed a strong vocabulary while studying and working in finance. I attended an information session at GSPP in the fall prior to applying which helped me establish a better understanding of the school’s mission and curriculum. I feel that visiting GSPP or at least talking with school administrators is very helpful in figuring out if the program is the right fit for you.
What did you enjoy most during your time at GSPP?
I have never been in an environment that promotes such a high level of cooperation and academic excellence as GSPP. Generally, the students at Goldman hold themselves to a very high standard, and they are also willing to help their fellow students perform at their very best.
What was your professional background before GSPP and what do you look to do with your degree upon graduation?
My work experience was primarily in the financial services industry where I held positions in investment and credit analysis. After graduating, I want to work in the public sector at the state or federal level.
What is your favorite thing about being a student in the Bay Area?
I appreciate the diversity of culture in the Bay Area. The weather is absolutely fantastic. My favorite baseball and football teams since childhood play their home games across the Bay from where I live. If the federal government would just move its base of operations from DC to San Francisco, I could not think of a reason that I would ever leave this place.
What has been your favorite class?
My favorite class is Public Sector Economics where I am learning about how various government programs work and the economic incentives that are created or influenced by these programs. The professor is adept at wedding theory with his practical experience working in federal government which makes the material feel very relevant to understanding current policy problems.
Who is your favorite faculty member?
Of the faculty members I have had the chance to interact with so far, Bob Stern is my favorite. I was in Bob’s International Economics class in the fall semester and was thoroughly impressed with the depth and breadth of his knowledge of the subject. His teaching style can be best described as Socratic; he forces students to evaluate policy alternatives through persistent questioning of conventional wisdom. He engages students’ critical thinking processes during lecture at a level that I have not experienced with any other teacher.