May 28, 2024

Class of 2024: Economics graduate launches AI consulting firm and learns rock climbing, too. What’s next?

Jennifer Chalamov’s can-do attitude and craving for diverse perspectives enrich her time at UCalgary
A woman with long brown hair
Jennifer Chalamov explored new interests during her studies at the University of Calgary. Devin Featherstone

When Jennifer Chalamov embarked on her university journey four years ago, she was captivated by the allure of the unknown. The excitement of her experience lay not in knowing where it would lead, but in the eagerness of discovering her path amidst the halls of the University of Calgary. Now, as a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and the recipient of the Faculty of Arts Silver Medallion in Economics, the same enthusiasm applies to her next journey.

Entering the fall semester after graduating high school in 2020, Chalamov was unsure about her future path and what she wanted to study. “It’s hard to decide what you want to do right then and there, but I thought I would give economics a try and I am so glad I did,” Chalamov says. 

From science to drama to entrepreneurial classes, Chalamov appreciated the flexibility of her studies to explore new areas of interest. “It wasn’t until my fourth year that I knew what I wanted to do, and it was because I had the ability to take so many options.”   

With a few years of experience and a wide range of classes under her belt, Chalamov’s collective approach to learning helped her discover her affinity for creative work, as well as generative AI. “When I took my first couple AI courses, it was so exciting, and very cool that the University of Calgary had classes available in such a new field of study.”

Although the elective classes Chalamov took led her down a new path, she values the diverse perspectives her degree brings.

“My economics degree has helped me develop critical thinking skills that I integrate into my daily work. It gives me a different analytical perspective when thinking through challenges.” 

With her can-do attitude, Chalamov has built an impressive resume during her time at the University of Calgary. Throughout her degree, Chalamov held an internship with the UCalgary-born tech company ParkChamp. Here, she has worn many hats, including software tester, UI/UX designer, marketing co-ordinator, and graphic designer, ultimately advancing to her current position as the team lead for their AI projects.

Additionally, during a directed studies course with Professor Patrick Finn, PhD, where she explored the intersection of marketing and AI, Chalamov leveraged her experience in marketing, design, and technology to start her own AI consulting firm, JennAI. Offering data-driven AI solutions, her services include brand storytelling, content marketing, and creating fine-tuned AI models (GPTs).  

“Through our weekly check-ins, I progressed to a point where I had my first client,” says Chalamov. Now, she has a growing list of clients and the potential for more is in the future. “Taking directed studies was a great opportunity to explore the entrepreneurship side of my education, even though that’s not necessarily in my program. It has really helped me create a well-rounded education.” 

While work and school are a big priority for Chalamov, she also understands the importance of external hobbies. One of her favourites is rock climbing. 

'After all, I am not AI'

“I started rock climbing while in university and quickly realized how important it is to have a hobby that isn’t related to work or studies. You need that break to take your mind off everything,” says Chalamov.  

Balancing a full course load, part-time work, and extracurricular hobbies wasn't always easy. "A challenge for me was feeling the pressure of grades and the fear of failure. I had to learn to prioritize my time and projects and not beat myself up when everything couldn’t get done. After all, I am not AI," Chalamov says with a laugh.

While her time at UCalgary is coming to an end, Chalamov's journey is just beginning. After convocation, she plans to continue learning about AI, delving deeper into its technical aspects. Additionally, she aims to expand her business and find a full-time job in her industry, ideally as generative AI adviser. 

"The future of AI is very exciting. There is so much good that can be done to increase efficiencies with AI, and the possibilities for application across different sectors are endless," she says.

As she embarks on her next journey, Chalamov has one piece of advice for future students: "Don’t let setbacks or hiccups define your journey. Use your mistakes as opportunities for growth because things can go better than expected."

Read more inspiring stories about the accomplishments and journeys of the Class of 2024.

Graduates, as you prepare to transition away from student life, we'd like to also welcome you into the UCalgary alumni community. Learn about the programs, benefits and services available exclusively to UCalgary grads, and be sure to keep in touch. 

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