With two Gustie alumni as parents, Jenni Harms ’14 needed no introduction to Gustavus when it came time to make her college choice back in 2010. She had attended the College’s Tennis and Life Camps for seven years and had also attended signature events like Christmas in Christ Chapel since she was a young child.
That familiarity was definitely a factor in Harms’ decision, but it was something else about Gustavus that eventually sold her on the school.
“A major reason why I wanted to go to Gustavus was because of the student to faculty ratio (12:1),” Harms said. “I did not want to be a number at a large university. I wanted to be recognized as a person and have the opportunity to build relationships with my professors.”
Harms built those relationships with faculty members, traveled the world as a member of two music ensembles, studied abroad for a semester in Ireland, developed close relationships with peers as a member of a sorority, obtained two valuable internships, and is now in the early stages of her professional career at Cargill—one of the most respected corporations in all of Minnesota.
“Gustavus helped prepare me in so many ways for post-grad life. The work ethic that was needed to succeed in classes at Gustavus is what has been most prevalent to me,” Harms said. “Going into work already knowing how to multitask and delegate time has helped me so much with my full-time job at Cargill. Also, the ability to learn things quickly and having a liberal arts education is really beneficial in the business world.”
After starting her four years at Gustavus as an environmental studies major, Harms decided to switch courses and become a mathematics major with a minor in management. She was also able to remain involved in music as a flutist in the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra.
Harms said her involvement in the two ensembles provided her with a great community of friends and many opportunities to travel the world. She went to South Africa in 2012 with the Symphony Orchestra and to Eastern Europe in 2014 with the Wind Orchestra. Being part of a world-class music program and traveling the world was a rewarding experience, but Harms also harkens back on the mentoring relationship she developed with Dr. Douglas Nimmo, the now retired conductor of the Wind Orchestra.
“Almost every faculty member at Gustavus positively influenced me in some way, but Dr. Nimmo was a particularly strong mentor for me,” Harms said. “He was always willing to talk and give me advice about music, school, post-grad decisions, and just life in general. Having a professor who cared so deeply about things that weren’t just related to band was something very special that Gustavus provided me.”
Gustavus also provided Harms with a chance to study abroad. Almost half of Gustavus students study abroad during their four years and Harms chose to do so in Galway, Ireland during the spring semester of her junior year. Harms calls it the best decision she made during her four years at Gustavus.
“It opened me up to so many different cultures and really shaped me into the person I am today,” Harms said. “Many of my job opportunities wouldn’t have happened if I did not study abroad because companies look so highly on candidates who have international knowledge and the ability to adapt.”
Her experience in Ireland helped Harms land an internship as a business analyst for Delta Airlines the summer after her junior year.
“Since Delta works consistently with partners that are international companies, it was important to them that I studied abroad in Ireland for six months,” Harms said. “I absolutely loved the internship. I learned so much about the business world and was able to work on many different projects that helped me grow professionally.”
With her undergraduate degree from Gustavus and her impressive resume that she was able to build during her four years at the College, Harms landed her first job at Cargill—the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue. Harms, an Apple Valley native, has relocated to Nebraska and is an Associate Buyer for the company.
Her primary responsibilities involve managing the timely and cost-effective procurement of maintenance and repair materials and services and requisite contracts and agreements to support the company’s production activities. Harms is assigned to the North American Oils Canada plants and recently spent a week in Canada to help facilitate the implantation of SAP (Systems Applications and Products) software to two of the company’s plants.
“The trip was a great experience and I enjoyed being able to put faces to names for people I communicate with daily in Canada,” Harms said. “I have only been working at Cargill for a month, but it is such a wonderful company to work for. I am learning so much and am looking forward to all the opportunities for growth.”
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin