THREE STUDENTS APPLY WHAT THEY LEARN IN THE CLASSROOM TO THEIR OWN BUSINESSES
When she was a sophomore, Adri Van Groningen convinced her parents to split the cost of a Canon camera with her. When she came back to campus after Christmas break, she started taking photos of her friends just for fun.
“Then my friend’s sister needed photos of her one-year-old daughter, and other people started asking for photos,” says Van Groningen, a graphic design major. “It kept building.”
Van Groningen, who will graduate in December, now has her own photography business; for the past two years, she has done shoots for families, high school seniors, weddings, and more. She has also learned to juggle her love for photography with college classes and two other jobs.
“It’s not easy to balance school and work,” says Van Groningen. “My calendar is important; without that, I couldn’t keep everything straight.”
Van Groningen also took photography classes from art instructor Doug Burg, who has his own photography business.
“It was great to learn how to go beyond the automatic settings on my camera, set up a business, deal with customers, and create contracts,” she says.
Van Groningen isn’t the only student running a business while studying at Dordt. Cole Evans, a sophomore business major from Edgerton, Kansas, partners with a friend to rent out three houses that they fixed up in Kansas City. Evans says that, while he is at Dordt, his friend handles most of the landlord responsibilities, and Evans spends time on the finances and paying taxes.
Evans appreciates that Dordt’s business professors have given him advice about making smart investments.
“Everyone is going to make mistakes—no business is perfect. The more I can talk with my professors and learn from them, the better decisions I make.”
Mark Schouten, a second year Pro-Tech student, also runs a business remotely; he does custom crop farming in Surrey, British Columbia. Employing six staff, Schouten leases a 1,200-acre ranch to grow alfalfa hay. Conveniently, this year’s three cuts went to a dairy across the street from his property.
Schouten has a foreman who manages the ranch in his absence, but he still has weekly meetings and other responsibilities. He says that managing a business and keeping up with schoolwork means that he has to plan and manage his time well. He also says that his Pro-Tech courses like Animal Nutrition and Farm Business and Management have helped him to better understand his product and to grow as a business owner.
“If you are a college student thinking of starting your own business, don’t let anything hold you back,” advises Schouten. “Being a business owner has helped me learn and focus more on my coursework, because what I’m learning in the classroom has helped me to succeed.”