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Unlocking Futures: Venture Student Lands job at UNI

As a high school senior, Aster Kmetz enrolled in Linn-Mar High School’s Venture Academics program for the spring semester of 2023. Venture Academics is a unique project-based learning program that emphasizes the application of skills, knowledge, and community engagement.

Kmetz selected the Digital Design strand, led by instructor Chris Thilges, because she had an interest in pursuing graphic design as a career and thought this class would be a good way to explore the world of graphic design and experience what it would be like to work as a designer. Kmetz had no previous experience in graphic design but jumped right into learning how to use Adobe programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator.Chris Thilges and Venture Student

Once students in the class had a good working knowledge of how to use the Adobe programs they worked on signage and graphic elements for the Linn-Mar Foundation’s primary fundraising event, Mane Event. After the Mane Event project students began a project for local general contractor, Rinderknecht Associates. Rinderknecht asked students to revamp their RFP Brochure that is used to promote their team and services. Students worked in teams to complete various elements of the project. Kmetz reflected that she had not previously worked in a team but she enjoyed it. At the completion of the project, Kmetz was selected to share about the project at the MEDCO annual luncheon. Kmetz said that her experience with Venture confirmed that graphic design was a career she wanted to pursue.

After graduation in May, Kmetz went on to start her graphic design degree at the University of Northern Iowa.  One day she was on the UNI rec center website and saw a job posted for a student graphic designer. Kmetz applied but they had just filled that application. However, the person she interviewed shared that there was also an opening for a Social Media Specialist job and they were looking for someone with graphic design skills for that role as well. Kmetz applied for the Social Media Specialist role and was offered the job. The deciding factor? Her Adobe skills. Even though there were many other applicants, none of them had experience working in Adobe programs.

Kmetz’s willingness to step out of her comfort zone, learn new skills, and embrace teamwork not only solidified her career aspirations but also opened doors she never imagined. As she pursues her graphic design degree at UNI, Kmetz serves as an inspiring example of how high school programs like Venture Academics can partner with local businesses to equip students with the skills and confidence needed to excel in their chosen fields.