Career Success in Economics: Q&A with Brianna Turunen ’17

Brianna and colleagues at Career Fair
Back on home turf, Brianna (left) recruits with RS&H colleagues at Michigan Tech’s Career Fair (Image courtesy Brianna Turunen/RS&H)

Brianna (Koski) Turunen, from L’Anse, Michigan, graduated in 2017 from Michigan Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. She is the operations lead for civil engineering firm RS&H’s East region.

Q: Why did you choose to study economics at Michigan Tech?

BT: When I started college I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, and went into civil engineering. During the first semester, I realized that it didn’t resonate with my brain—I just didn’t think the same way engineers do. I was in some entry-level business classes and they felt right—I wasn’t struggling to grasp the concepts, so I decided to enroll in the College of Business.

Q: Describe your current role

photo of a highway construction site
Construction of the Fayetteville Outer Loop—an example of a project Brianna provides financial insights for. (Image courtesy Brianna Turunen/RS&H)

BT: I work at RS&H, which is, funnily enough, a civil engineering firm, and I am based in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am leading our operations team for our construction management business unit in the eastern region (Florida through Maine). I work hand-in-hand with our engineers on the financial side. I spend my time analyzing and forecasting our current backlog, financial projections, upcoming projects, and project completions for the coming years and supporting our project managers with client contracts, budgets, and operational project management.

Q: How has your economics degree contributed to your career?

BT: One benefit to an economics degree at Michigan Tech is being surrounded by so many engineering students and professors. In my position, I am able to correlate the engineering background found at Michigan Tech, but directly apply my economics degree to the work. The experience I got at MTU has allowed me to better communicate and work with my company’s engineers and the projects they do.

Q: What experiences did you have on campus that helped lead to your career today?

BT: While on campus I participated in the Economics Club, which allowed me to gain insight into different career paths specific to an economics degree. My participation allowed me to open up conversations with students and staff outside of just the economics major and learn to navigate where an economics degree could fit into different industries.

Q: What advice do you have for prospective students considering economics at Michigan Tech?

BT: Keep your options open! The economics degree is so diverse and gives you the ability to really open your ideas for a future career in a ton of different industries. Just because you have an economics degree doesn’t mean you have to work in government or the public sector. There are so many fields that need the financial problem-solving skills you will gain from economics at Michigan Tech.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accountingbusiness analyticsconstruction managementeconomicsengineering managementfinancemanagementmanagement information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.