Krystal Slivinski is an assistant professor of economics at Grand Canyon University. Before teaching undergraduate and MBA economics at GCU, Krystal lobbied the Arizona Legislature to improve tax, budget and regulatory policies. She also trained K-12 teachers to teach economics in a hands-on and engaging way with the Arizona Council on Economic Education. Prior to moving to Arizona, Krystal spent nearly a decade in Washington, D.C. working in think tanks and the public policy world. One of her greatest policy achievements was to help the Virginia Legislature amend the Virginia Constitution to improve protection of private property rights against eminent domain abuse. Krystal has a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in economics from George Mason University. Krystal lives in Phoenix with her husband and their three sons.
Faculty Spotlight Questions:
I grew up in a very rural state, West Virginia. I never dreamed I’d become an economics professor one day. I did not get a good grade in my first undergraduate economics class – I thought the concepts were obvious but were given a completely different vocabulary. Luckily, another economics professor saw some potential in me, took me under his wing and mentored me. I developed a deep appreciation and understanding of economics – I fell in love with it! After college I took an internship in Washington, D.C. and found a great fit at a think tank (I didn’t even know what a think tank was before my professor recommended I apply). Fast forward 15 years and I’ve had a great career in public policy, lobbying, drafting legislation and economic policy work. When I moved to Arizona five years ago, I discovered the Arizona Council on Economic Education, a nonprofit that taught me not only how to teach economics in a hands-on and active way, but also train other teachers to do it well. I still occasionally do policy consulting and teacher training in Arizona.
I feel my whole career has simply been translating economic ideas into plain English – for the public, business leaders and legislators. Now I’m honored that I get to translate economics into English for students at GCU every day. I hope they fall in love with economics, too.
The Colangelo College of Business is full of faculty that have had extensive career and life experiences that enrich their teaching. They can all give real-world examples from their particular industry to bring concepts to life in the classroom for students. I love the collaborative environment that the Colangelo College of Business faculty and staff create.
But I have to say, I enjoy the students the most. Without the students, we don’t have anyone to share our knowledge and experience with. The students here are eager and willing to learn and always looking for ways to apply what they’ve learned to their lives. I enjoy getting to know them, their majors and career goals and day-to-day interests and struggles.
Internships are important. In the ever-competitive job market, actual work experience is a big deal. An internship or two can give your resume a leg up on all the other graduates entering the job market. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t taken a chance on a low-paying internship.
Network, network, network! Face-to-face, social media, events and outings – they’re all important. Connections are going to get your foot in the door. Take an interest in people and keep up with what they are doing on a regular basis, not just when you need something from them. Connect with people of all levels and ages: your professors (go to office hours and introduce yourself!), your boss, administrators, the security guard, the janitor. And don’t forget your peers – they will be successful one day, too! It really is all about who you know.
Set your personal standards high from day one. Dress professionally – look to the top leadership of your organization as an example. Don’t show up wearing “what you can get by with.” Never settle for meeting the lowest minimum requirement. Always operate with integrity. If you see trash, pick it up. If someone needs help or a listening ear, stop and make time for them. Start with an attitude of humble and consistent servant leadership (though you may feel more like a servant than a leader in the beginning) and maintain that attitude throughout your career. Eventually people will respect you and look up to you, regardless of your title.