Activities: Roller hockey, co-founded a parody website, studied abroad twice, heckling the opposing team at football games
What attracted you to Rutgers University and the Honors/Scholars Program?
My mom is a professor at Rutgers, so I had tuition remission. And I got a scholarship on top of that. So financially, it was a no brainer. Especially since Rutgers is well regarded academically. I joined the honors program after my freshman (or sophomore?) year because I wanted to take seminar classes. It was funny in that I didn't get into the honors program straight out of high school by 10 SAT points and I didn't realize until much later that I could've appealed that. Later on I met other students who had appealed and gotten in. But it worked out because my freshman year roommate greatly influenced my current career path (see below).
Why did you choose your major and minor?
I found philosophy (mostly political and moral) interesting, and economics practical - in a "this way I can get a real job if I don't know what I want to do because people tend to be impressed by economics degrees" way. I grew up speaking Russian but was never a good reader/writer, so I minored in Russian to get better at it.
Tell us a little bit about what you're doing now. What was your first job after Rutgers? Where do you live?
Right now I'm a NYC based stand up comedian and best selling author. I've appeared on FOX’s Laughs, CBS This Morning, National Geographic’s Brain Games, Rooftop Comedy and been featured as TimeOut New York’s Joke of the Week. I've twice headlined at Caroline’s on Broadway, hosted at the Lincoln Center and perform nightly in New York Cityand around the country. I'm currently finishing up work on my second comedy album to be released on iTunes in the next month or two. I also write/direct short films and sketches in an attempt to become YouTube famous.
My first job after Rutgers was as a management consultant at Accenture, at Fortune 500 Consulting Firm. I was there for three years, then got a full ride to a Caltech PhD program in Neuro Economics, but that quickly started getting in the way of comedy, so I left the program.
New York City.
What has been your greatest professional and/or personal accomplishment since you graduated Rutgers?
Creating my book, Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up. Then having the book break into Amazon's Top 20 Best Sellers in Dark Humor. And then having the Kindle version hit Amazon's Top 5 best sellers in Humor. Also getting to headline at Caroline's on Broadway was great.
Was there a class and/or experience at Rutgers that led you to pursuing your current career?
My freshman year roommate and I founded a comedy parody website while at Rutgers, and that was my first foray into comedy writing. Also, I used to go to The Stress Factory with my roommate to watch him perform and give him notes/ideas. I didn't start performing stand up until two years out of college, but those two experiences were primarily responsible for where I am now.
What three words describe your experience at Rutgers and the Honors/Scholars Program?
Fun. Reading. Traveling.
How has your Rutgers and Honors education benefited you in your post-Rutgers life?
When I studied abroad twice my junior year (Australia and England) I had a ton of time to read (mostly non-fiction) for fun/curiosity (because universities in other countries are a total joke) :) I've carried that enjoyment with me ever since and read 20 or so books a year.
What advice do you have for our current SAS Honors Program students?
Chase the things that interest you, even if you don't see a short term practicality to it. But make sure you have some practical skills as well (see Economics above). Learn as many general computer software skills as you can, as they will be applicable to almost any job you have (HTML, video editing, Photoshop, Excel). And learn how to talk to people and get along even if you don't love everyone. That's usually 50% of succeeding at a job. Also, read my free ebook "How To Find Your Passion" at BigBenComedy.com/Passion