Kara Venema

How often do you meet someone who studied both Biology and Strategic Communication? Here's your chance to meet Kara Venema '15, a student who did just that.

Q: How has your biology minor been helpful in your career so far?
A: I work at G & S Business Communications, a firm in downtown Chicago. I'm an account executive for a client in the agricultural industry. Because I had a biology minor at Calvin, I have a leg up with background knowledge in the agricultural field. While I was at Calvin I thought about dropping my biology minor, but both my biology and communication advisers told me to keep it, which has been a good thing!

Q: What Calvin CAS classes have prepared you the most for this job?
A: Persuasion & Propaganda, Argumentation & Advocacy and Oral Rhetoric have definitely helped me. Even though I don't give public speeches, I know how to structure my thoughts well. It helps in PR because I constantly have to think strategically about my audience. Group Communication definitely helped because of the experience working with team members who have different strengths and weaknesses. My team at work has done a good job of using the Strengths Finder test and utilizing each individual's strengths along with overall team strengths.

Q: What has been the biggest learning curve throughout the transition from intern to professional?
A: I started out as an intern during the Chicago Semester doing more local area marketing tactics with the same client. Now I'm on a different team, doing more national marketing. One of the biggest learning curves has been getting used to the new pace of a full work day. As an intern, you're focusing on one main project at a time or a few little things. As I got hired on full time and promoted, I've picked up more and more work. Now I have several projects at once and they change every day. I have to know how to prioritize which projects need to be done first and Calvin prepared me for that.

Q: Most people wouldn't choose to spend their last semester of college off campus. How was that beneficial? What do you think of big-city living?
A: I did Chicago Semester spring of senior year. A lot of people did it in the fall and went back to school in the spring, but this was a way to have a serious internship and transition to a job post-college. I grew up in a small town and always thought I would end up in a small town. Since moving here, I've really loved it. And as a communicator, it's great way to network and keep up to date with PR and social media trends.