About Austin

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Previous University: Brigham Young University
Undergraduate Degree: English
Q: What was your background before joining the JD/MBA program?

A:  I went to Brigham Young University in Utah, where I majored in English with two minors: writing and rhetoric, and East Asian studies with an emphasis on China. I was also a missionary for my church for two years, working with Chinese communities in the UK.

Q: Why were you interested in a dual degree?

A: I've always wanted to be a lawyer. But law touches every aspect of people's lives, and to be a good attorney, you need to be able to speak the language of the people you're working with. That's why I got interested in an MBA. If I learn about business from an accounting angle, and a strategy angle, and so on, I'll be able to anticipate my clients' needs.

Q: What drew you to D'Amore-McKim?

A: The emphasis on practical experience—Northeastern teaches a kind of scrappy innovativeness that I appreciate. I'm currently working as a coach for the IDEA accelerator. It's fun to be able to sit down with students and talk about their real-life business concerns, which is great preparation for what I'll do as a lawyer.

I'm also the chief compliance officer for the 360 Huntington Fund. I watch students give stock pitches, and then they shoot questions to me about mergers and acquisitions, litigation, and the value of patents—that kind of thing. I love that advisory role. My ultimate goal is to have someone come to me and say, “I have this vision of what I want to accomplish. And I have this list of problems I don't know how to solve.” And I walk them through the solutions.

Q: How has the program changed you?

A: It has opened up my mind to different methods of problem-solving. I used to think I wasn't good at quantitative analysis, but this program cured me of that. It turns out I'm good at math. I can do statistics, I can do finance, and that adds an important new tool to my toolbox.

I've also learned brevity in communication. I can make an argument in a single executive summary instead of a big 15-page diatribe. That's been really helpful in my legal internships.

Q: How do you hope to use your dual degree?

A: My residency was in employment and labor law, which I thought was fascinating, but I'm also interested in intellectual property, venture capital, white-collar criminal defense, business formation, and corporate governance. So I have a number of paths I could take. But no matter which I choose, I have the skills not just to figure out how to win a case, but to look at the bigger picture for my clients. How can we do this in a way that helps your bottom line, and makes good business sense, and is good for morale in your organization?

Q: What advice would you give students considering the JD/MBA program?

A: Getting a dual degree from D'Amore-McKim sets you apart. When you apply for jobs in law, everybody is smart and has the same qualifications you do. But with this specific degree, you can say you have real-world experience, that you understand business concerns, and that you know how to solve problems from a multitude of angles. Beyond that, having exposure to the MBA program builds an instant networking hub that you can tap, which means you bring more value to your organization. There were 60 people in my class who are going to be future business leaders—having those connections is priceless.