Tyler DiGiovanni, an economics senior with a Spanish minor, isn’t your typical undergraduate student.
At 27, he’s lived abroad, transferred schools, taken time off to create a new company and reevaluated his path countless times. All of that led him to the UT Austin economics program.
Prior to college, DiGiovanni spent 2008-10 living Buenos Aires, Argentina as a missionary for the LDS Church. He quickly became fluent in Spanish, because the missionaries he lived with (from Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina) didn’t speak any English.
His time in Buenos Aires wasn’t just spent in the wealthy parts of town. He visited some of the most dangerous areas of the city, known locally as “villas.” Most Americans aren’t able to set foot there, but Mormon missionaries are well known by the residents and that allowed DiGiovanni to experience every element of the culture of Buenos Aires.
“I saw countless diseased dogs, a plethora of unlivable housing and once in a while we’d see some shootouts,” DiGiovanni said. “The miraculous thing is that these people literally had almost nothing, yet they are some of the happiest and most giving people that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during my 27 years of existence. Buenos Aires is a city I will always love and I hope to one day return and do business there.”
After his mission, DiGiovanni enrolled in the University of Arkansas business school. However, it wasn’t the right fit for him.
Uninterested in the local giants that were pushed as the “next step” in his career path (Walmart, Tyson Chicken, etc.), DiGiovanni talked to a mentor about his passion for the investment and banking industry. Encouraged to pursue a degree in economics, DiGiovanni transferred to the College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin.
After his first year, inspiration struck. DiGiovanni wanted to create “the IMDB of sports.” He found partners interested in the project and decided defer school to move to Utah to make his dream a reality.
“We sought out to create the ultimate sports database for mobile devices,” said DiGiovanni about the app, named SportLocker. “We want to give people the ability to search quickly and effectively to find thorough biographical information for every player, coach, venue and team at the NCAA and professional level.”
DiGiovanni and his partners were able to secure capital through angel investors and the company is healthy and in a pre-development stage, set to launch in early 2016. However, after two years of hard work on the venture, DiGiovanni decided to remain involved but return to UT Austin for his degree.
“Being an entrepreneur is such a rewarding, yet stressful, roller-coaster ride,” he said. “There were a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but I’ve come to realize that each of those crests were invaluable learning experiences.”
Being a liberal arts student has given DiGiovanni the skills to be a more well rounded person when combined with his previous experiences.
“It’s helped me to become more analytical and creative when solving problems,” he said. “With liberal arts and economics, you have to think on your feet and be able to analytically think through a problem to come to a solution. For someone who has never thought himself to be very creative, this is very helpful for strengthening my weaknesses.”
Despite his illustrious past, DiGiovanni had never had a “real” job interview or even a polished resume. He turned to Liberal Arts Career Services before the annual job fair this fall for help. With their input and mock-interviews, DiGiovanni landed a summer analyst job in the operations division of Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City.
DiGiovanni’s experiences have had a tremendous impact on him and his perspective on the world.
“Life is not about money; it’s about enjoying the journey and surrounding yourself with good company,” he said. “It’s about being adventurous and not just sticking to the norm. The world is beautiful. Travel to a different country, if only for just a short period, because it will be a rewarding and eye-opening experience. It’s important for us to immerse ourselves in other cultures so that we can become well-rounded and thankful for the things we have.”