Michael Schneider used his problem-solving skills to excel as a Bureau of Business Research Scholar at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Graduating this May, he embraced change and discovered how a different major allowed him to impact the future of business research.
The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native spent his first year studying actuarial science alongside his Nebraska Business Honors Academy cohort. He enjoyed it, but a business research class piqued his interest, and he realized he preferred studying math theory and the abstract ideas and theoretical problem-solving found in economics.
Eager to learn from active researchers in business, Schneider decided to participate in the Bureau of Business Research (BBR) Scholars program. As he excelled and grew as a leader in the program, he said he grew more comfortable with the unknown and the idea of changing his majors to economics and mathematics.
“I love the uncertainty in research, and through the BBR Scholars I found I possess many tools needed, such as a curious mindset and problem-solving ability. In research, we don’t know the answers to the questions when we begin, which is the entire point,” he said.
Schneider credits Dr. Daniel Tannenbaum, assistant professor of economics, and Dr. Mitch Herian, BBR project director, for inspiring him to pursue an academic career path. He applied lessons learned from watching their examples, seeing how they approach problems and frame questions.
“Mentoring from Dr. Herian for three years especially influenced me because he made me want to emulate his path, and the BBR Scholars program gave me opportunities to learn. I compare it to watching a musician. I love to watch Jimi Hendrix playing guitar even though odds are I’ll never play as well as him. I like to learn by doing, and by watching and listening to academics and other experts,” Schneider said.
Herian noticed Schneider’s potential and encouraged him to push himself further developing his skills and leading sessions training other students.
“Michael worked diligently to improve his technical skills. In many cases, I gave Michael a technical problem to solve, and he worked independently to obtain the skills needed to tackle the problem. For example, I asked Michael to add a new component to an interactive dashboard, and he would figure out the programming needed to achieve our goals,” Herian recalled.
In one such research project, Schneider gathered data to analyze tax policy and military retirement pay. He worked to find out whether military veterans in the United States tended to remain living in states where their retirement income was taxed or whether they chose instead to move to states where the pension is exempt.
As Schneider completes his undergraduate career, the recent College of Business Student of the Month encourages other students to follow their interests, even if those interests change. He shared how students should reach out for guidance from academic advisors, professors or their parents when needed.
“I would tell students considering changes that I understand the hesitation because of a fear of the unknown. Work with your advisors to determine your interest areas and you will find something you enjoy. Don’t hesitate to ask others for help and make changes and build skills as you go. That’s what you’re here for. And don’t forget to call your parents. You can be independent and still keep in touch. They were a huge source of support as I made these decisions.”
After graduation this spring, Schneider plans to attend graduate school at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, pursuing an M.S. in Economics and Social Sciences in preparation for a Ph.D. in economics. He plans to apply what he learned at Nebraska to the future of business through economics research.
“Michael’s future is bright because of his willingness to learn and be coached. He is willing to engage in discussions about the proper ways to conduct research. I believe this drive to succeed will allow him to excel in his pursuit of an advanced degree,” Herian said.
To learn more about the BBR Scholars, visit https://business.unl.edu/bbrscholars.