RiemersmaAre you interested in event planning? Meet Elyse Riemersma, class of 2013. After several internships, the Chicago Semester and a Strategic Communication degree, Elyse decided to pursue event planning as a career. She is now the lead planner and event manager at Posh Petals in Grand Rapids.

Q: How did you know you wanted to be an event planner?

A: Through internships. The Communication major is pretty broad. You have a lot of opportunities to explore whatever you want, whether PR, advertising, public speaking, etc. I was an intern four times. It was sort of a process of elimination. My last semester, I did the Chicago Semester and had an intership in event management. I fell in love with it.

Q: How valuable was the Chicago Semester?

A: It was huge for me. It was my last semester before I finished. I loved the full experiece of getting to live in the city. I also loved the community they create for all of the students. The Chicago Semester does a good job of providig really great opportunities that you wouldn't get without the backing of that program. They open a lot of doors for students. The events industry is a tough industry to get into. That really was how I was able to get my start.

Q: What are your main responsibilities as an event planner?

A: I help clients who come to us looking for an event planner to plan logistics and details, like budgets, choosing vendors and decor. We do weddings, corporate events and nonprofit events. For coordination and planning, I do mostly weddings. I also help run everything on the day of the event. If anyone has a question or needs something, I take that pressure off of the client and the family.

Q: How has a CAS degree proven useful as an event planner?

A: I work in an industry where emotions run high. It can change instantly. You can change from someone's favorite person to the enemy or the scapegoat. It's so important to stay on the same page with people, or if you're not on the same page, to know how to get back to that place. CAS classes help me think with the client in mind; to know the audience and how to communicate with them.