Kara Vallari graduated from Virginia Tech in 2009 with B.S. in Marketing and a minor in History. She is now a member of the Pamplin College of Business’s Recent Alumni Board.
Kara thanks for taking the time to talk! Could you tell me about your current job?
I work for a marketing agency called Paragon, it is sports and entertainment focused and the main client I work on is Gatorade and we manage all their experiential marketing and sponsorship. I have been doing that a little over six years. I have actually been with the same agency since I graduated from Tech. I have always been passionate about sports, so working through the sports industry is just an incredible opportunity. Every day a lot of people go to an office and sit at a desk, but today and yesterday I got to hangout with the Yankees and met a bunch of famous athletes and hall of famers… That is my job and it is so much fun. On a daily basis I get to have these really cool experiences.
And what were you involved in at Tech?
I worked as a student athletic trainer for our football team. That was really cool. I got to travel with them and go to their bowl games and essentially be part of the team which is really fun. I was also the president of the Student Athletic Trainers Club while I was at Tech, and was also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee which is a group of representatives from each sport who work to make sure each team is operating as it should. I was also in Tri Delta, kind of random but I was the Vice President of Finance for Tri Delta.
I would definitely say working as an athletic trainer for the football team had the biggest impact on y career. I was essentially part of the football team. I had to go to every practice, be there before and after, I would go in on the weekends to help with treatments, I would travel with them and would be on the field for every game. So it took a lot of time but it was something I was really passionate about, and essentially it is what led to the job I have today.
What are you most looking forward to as a member of the Recent Alumni Board?
As an undergraduate I was definitely a little bit naive about how to start a career path and what steps I was supposed to take. At the time I did not realize that I should be getting a big internship during summer and I didn’t know how to network or create professional relationships, I think a lot of other students may be in the same boat as I was. They may not necessarily know the right formula, and I am excited to be able to help them and hopefully provide them with some insight as to the things I did not know when I was in school.
Do you have any career advice for current students you would like to share?
Do something that you are passionate about. The world is your oyster, you are in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer and so take advantage of them because you won’t be young forever and you won’t necessarily always have the same opportunities as when you first come out of school.
Switching gears just a tiny bit… What is your favorite place to eat in Blacksburg?
Ahhh! Cabo Fish Taco! I tell all my friends about it in Chicago and they think I am crazy. I even looked into opening a franchise, I was so serious about it!
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love to travel and I think that a healthy work-life balance is incredibly important. I also think that traveling helps broaden your perspective and it will make you more culturally aware. Last year I went to Thailand and Cambodia, Puerto Rico, and all over the U.S. for work. And this year I am going to a wedding in Greece so I am going to try to see Croatia and Slovenia along with Greece.