Erica DekkerSomeday you may have to go through the process of enrolling in employee benefits. Erica Dekker '15, Communications Specialist at Acrisure Benefits Group, uses her Strategic Communication degree to convey the options and process in the smoothest way possible for you and your employer. Read below to find out more about her CAS experience and career journey!

Q: What has stuck with you the most from your CAS classes?

A: I really enjoyed the Oral Rhetoric classes that I took at Calvin. Although speech day was always a dreaded date on my calendar, I learned so much from those classes… how to create a useful and stimulating PowerPoint, how to answer a question on the spot, how to keep a listener engaged. All of those skills play into my daily work now.

Q: How did your internships benefit you along the way?

A: In college I had a particular interest in event planning and had my first internship with Just Delightful Events. I helped organize details for upcoming events and also learned a lot about flower arranging. This new skill taught me a lot about creativity and how to make things look good in a time-crunched situation. Now in my current job, I am able to whip up a document or a flyer quickly if needed with confidence. Obviously taking your time to finish a project is preferred, but having the ability to finish something quickly and efficiently is an excellent skill.

I had another event planning internship in Chicago with Tamar Productions, Inc, set up by the Chicago Semester. At this internship I organized a lot of small details for our events – where vendors would park, how we were doing with budgets, keeping track of proposals and document drafts. These skills taught me the importance of organization! It seems like a no-brainer, but it makes such a difference now in my current job.

Q: What does your job entail as a Communications Specialist for a benefits broker?

A: At my job I assist the head Communications Consultant in creating educational pieces on employee benefits. Our clients’ employees need to enroll in benefits once a year during their open enrollment period, which can be very confusing. As a communications team, we create flyers, postcards, emails, enrollment guides, webinars, and more to educate employees on what their options are and how to make the best choice for their needs. One of the biggest things we focus on is making sure to use language and communication methods that will speak to each unique employee population. For example, if a company has technologically advanced employees, we will use more online communication methods to reach them. Or, if a company has a large Spanish-speaking employee population, we will make documents in both English and Spanish. Many classes that I took while studying at Calvin focused on this skill of catering to your audience. And the CAS program overall helped me to communicate difficult topics clearly and efficiently.

Q: Any advice for students entering college soon or pursuing a CAS degree?

A: One of the best things I have learned in the last few years is to always make a good impression and keep in touch with your contacts, because you never know who could open a door for you. My first internship was with a former youth group leader of mine. I met her one day for coffee to catch up on life and ask about her new business, and left with an internship! And now my current job is assisting the Communications Consultant, whose kids I babysat while I was in college. She remembered that I studied CAS in college and instantly reached out to me when they were hiring an assistant for her. I am so thankful for those connections!