Working Wednesday: Kara Vana ’17

With the Freelance Toolkit Series underway, we thought it would be fun to catch up with an alumnus who is currently freelancing!  Meet alumna Kara Vana!

Kara is known among her peers for her passion for working with people, being on trend with the latest hairstyles and for her love for her pug, Petunia. She is a hard-working leader, creative individual, and collaborative team member. From working on social media campaigns to event planning, her positive approach is undeterred by any challenge, big or small. Kara graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

We asked Kara to share her experience and expert advice on beginning a career after college.

How did an internship or on-campus job help prepare you for your first job after graduation?

My time at Columbia gave me the opportunity and confidence to complete an internship in my freshman year. I learned a lot about myself professionally, the whole sale side of the fashion industry, and even had the opportunity to travel. By the time I graduated, I had about four internships under my belt and two plus years of PR and retail experience, which led to job opportunities right out of school from the network I built.

What do you love about event planning?

I love that I am able to use a mix of my skill sets to be in event planning. The teamwork, the organization, time management and the satisfying feeling of “wow I coordinated this”. Right now, I mainly work in wedding coordinating, and nothing beats the gratitude from your clients when you created a event to remember.

How do you stay focused and organized as a freelancer?

Staying focused and organized is a forever evolving process. Depending on how many clients I have, what kind of service they are looking for, and the timeline, sometimes I have slower days during the week and very busy weekends. Every week has a new schedule and I have to ready to roll with the punches. Setting deadlines is KEY.

How do you market yourself and your services?

I am a strong believer in creating personal relationships with clients through networking events. I reach out personally to potential clients through recommendations in my network. I invest time into learning what their company does well (and even not so well), so that I can be prepared and well organized when I pitch to them. I will not take on a client if I know I am not the right fit for what they are looking for and always set the proper expectations.

What advice do you have for Senior students?

Remember to breathe. haha! But seriously, be prepared to fail, to be told no, and know your worth but stay humble. It took me awhile to figure out what post grad life looked like for me. Don’t be afraid to take risks and stay positive!

Thanks, Kara!  We wish you all the best in your personal and professional pursuits!