Ross Venhuizen, a double major in business marketing and strategic communication, recognized the importance of building a professional network. Throughout his time at Calvin he took advantage of the large number of networking events and opportunities offered by Career Development. Although Ross admits that in the moment, many of these events felt like a waste of time, now he realizes how valuable they were.
“I met genuinely awesome people who were looking to help me as a student become an attractive candidate to employers, and I consider many of the people I met through networking to be good friends and mentors now,” says Ross.
One of the connections that Ross made through a networking event was with Gary Van Prooyen ’88. The two met at the first annual Calvin in Chicago Career Fair, where Gary was recruiting for Motorola Solutions. They connected again at the following year’s Calvin in Chicago event, and Gary helped Ross get an interview and eventually get hired by Motorola Solutions.
“There was actually a bidding war for Ross here. I offered him a job on my team; another colleague did the same,” says Gary. “I lost out, but Ross landed a great position.”
Ross is now a marketing specialist for the global solutions team at Motorola Solutions, which involves creating presentation materials for the sales team; developing posters, videos, advertisements, and other marketing materials; traveling to conferences to demonstrate products to customers; and writing blog posts for the website. These activities have given Ross the chance to combine creativity and critical thinking every day, which he has found very rewarding. He also enjoys working for a company that “helps keep the good guys safe,” since Motorola Solutions specializes in technologies for public safety officials, such as the radios and laptops inside police vehicles.
While networking was a key factor in obtaining his position at Motorola Solutions, Ross also understood the necessity of setting himself apart. Since many large companies tend to recruit only at large universities, Ross realized he had to be more innovative in his job search and find alternative ways to be considered as a viable candidate.
“For me, it was networking, as well as gaining unique experiences to stand out on my resume,” says Ross. “I made a personal website, freelanced for a housing company in Georgia, and used Adwords to market myself to companies I wanted to work for.”
Ross first learned this lesson of setting himself apart during the four internships he completed as a student, and he advises current students to find ways to add value to their employers.
“One of the most important things I learned from my internships was how to make myself useful for a company,” Ross explains. “The most successful people in companies are those who find ways to bring value to a company in ways beyond what is listed in their job description or what their boss tells them to do. If you can find ways to make your boss's life easier or improve the company’s bottom line, you will be rewarded.”
Written by Meredith Segur, posted September 2014