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Columbia College Chicago
Karlene Olesuk

Karlene Olesuk

Michael Samm

Karlene Olesuk - Business & Entrepreneurship Alumna - Media Management

Karlene Olesuk, a seasoned Business & Entrepreneurship alumnus of Columbia College, has an impressive array of talent that has led her to a number of noteworthy roles in the arts industry. Her specialties include public relations, marketing communications, and graphic design. She currently resides in a suburb of Chicago where she acts as a public relations consultant for Robert Speed Productions, a global artist management firm -- a position that is complementary to her vast skillset. In addition to her consulting work, Karlene also works as an office manager for a financial services firm. Karlene shares her history at Columbia College and life experiences that led her to the arts industry.

How did your time at Columbia College influence you?
While I was a graduate student at Columbia College Chicago, my time in the classroom influenced my work outside of the classroom by making me aware of other students/professors that were a like me and more multi-disciplinary, so I didn't feel alone. For example while taking a non-profit marketing class, I wrote a real-life communications project grant that was actually funded by Columbia teachers, and I carried out the donor cultivation events described in that grant at a real non-profit performing arts center that affected the community regionally. I felt the optimism and synergy in the classroom among students and professors. Also, Columbia College influenced me by instilling the idea that people can perhaps actually do what they love and that doesn't necessarily conflict with making a living and it being in a creative field. I felt that having professors who had achieved executive-level positions in the arts and entertainment industry could only be gained at a unique place such as Columbia College because professionals and major entertainment industry companies wanted to be associated with the City of Chicago, the history of the college as well as the alumni, the current professors and promising students.

How did your experience in Columbia’s Business & Entrepreneurship department prepare you for your career?
Columbia brought in professors that had experience working in the real world and who had real world examples and case studies that were helpful. The courses allowed students to start thinking about crafting their own careers either as self-employed entrepreneurs fulfilling their own dream project or as potential employees working for larger entities in our field. We did a few group projects that allowed us to study, work in teams, and form friendships that would carry over into the real world.

What are some of Columbia’s strengths?
Some of Columbia's strengths are the professors, the association with executives in diverse industries, the developing donor base of support, and the growing alumni relations activities.

Any advice for current students?
My advice to students would be to volunteer and become involved in applying for scholarships, grants, awards, honors classes, committees, and ensemble activities, not only as a participant but in a leadership role if possible.