By Alicia Davids, Communication Department Intern
Heidi Sundstrom ('11) had a passion for language and cultures when she entered Calvin. She spent five years in Germany, graduated from an international high school and wanted to continue experiencing new cultures. Heidi was concerned she may be limited to a career of translating or teaching if she pursued her passion for language. But when she took her first communication course, Heidi discovered how she could combine her interests with a marketable skill that she enjoyed. She soon realized that a Communication major would allow her to do what she loves the most--interact with people all over the world.
Graduating with Communication and German majors and a Spanish minor, Heidi has already been able to put her Calvin degree to work. She is the Center Manager at Language Stars in Chicago, an agency that offers foreign language immersion programs for children. Here, she combines her passions for language and communication by working with parents and children to make the program run smoothly on a day-to-day basis. Sundstrom's Calvin courses have helped her succeed in this position. "Learning to analyze messages and tailor them to a specific audience has proven invaluable," she explains. "Each parent I work with has a different concern and understanding how to address that need specifically is important."
Heidi's job and internship experiences while at Calvin helped her prepare for the working world. She worked at the Calvin Phonathon, assisted in the Development Office, and interned at the Calvin Communications Department. These positions taught Heidi to "gain confidence in reaching out to people, whether it be for interviews or to ask for financial donations." Heidi also learned to be a responsible leader, a skill necessary in every career.
Heidi took advantage of many of Calvin's opportunities and encourages other students to do the same. She built strong relationships with her CAS professors and valued the wide range of advice they had to offer. "Whether it be advice on life after graduation or clarification on an assignment, knowing I could talk with my professors is what really made my experience at Calvin fantastic," Heidi explains. She also urges students to participate in one of Calvin's fourteen semester abroad programs or one of the countless interim opportunities. Sundstrom studied in Germany, Austria, and Mexico while at Calvin and describes the trips as fun and educational, while making her a more well-rounded person.
The CAS courses at Calvin are relevant in Heidi's job on a daily basis. The Interpersonal Communication course taught Heidi how to adapt her message to a specific crowd for a certain purpose, while Professor Schultze's senior seminar gave her concrete advice about how to enter the working world. After graduation, Heidi spent just four weeks unemployed. During this time, she applied wherever she could and opened herself up to the possibility of working in many different environments. But with the confidence and strong resume she gained through her senior seminar, Heidi was able to find her position at Language Stars despite the bad job market.
Heidi's Calvin education helped land her a job that allows her to do combine her passions for language with the lucrative skill of communication.