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Student involvement helps Redbird leader develop vital career skills

As a career ambassador, Mike Rubio refines his own career skills.

Mike Rubio's service as a career ambassador helped him to develop many skills that he shares with fellow students.

The Student Government Association elections have come to a close and Mike Rubio has been named president. As he transitions into his role, a long trail of student involvement follows behind him. Reviewing resumes as a career ambassador, building his fraternity Sigma Nu, and working with Redbirds as a former SGA senator are just a handful of what Rubio does on campus. His involvement has helped him to develop skills essential for career success.

“Student involvement is vital to the Redbird experience and is essential to helping students succeed academically and professionally,” said Career Center Associate Director Mike Minton. “Involvement on campus allows students to explore a variety of experiences that can have an impact on shaping a student’s academic and career goals.”

According to Career Center Assistant Director Andee Radliff, employers today are seeking more than a student’s major when identifying candidates to fill their open positions: “They are seeking skills like leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, communication, teamwork and collaboration, and more. Students often gain these skills through their classwork and involvement experiences.”

In 2017, the Illinois State University Academics and Careers Council identified a number of academic and career steps students should implement while in college. These keys to academic and career success include academic achievement, transferable skills, networking, and experiences and involvement.

“We seek communication skills, leadership skills, and some more out-of-the-box things like the ability to adapt, get along with others, and build relationships with students from all walks of life,” said Hayley Smallwood, human resources generalist for Career Center Partner Sherwin-Williams.

Illinois State University offers over 400 registered student organizations that allow Redbirds to develop their leadership skills and teamwork abilities and further explore their interests. “There’s a whole world of opportunities out there and you need to take a step back and embrace something that suits your interest,” said Rubio.

Rubio poses with fellow cabinet members

SGA President Mike Rubio poses with Vice President Jack Whitsitt and Chief of Staff Magalie Baker during the Passing of the Gavel ceremony.

He should know! In fact, Rubio’s involvement with the Student Government Association even inspired him to double major in political science as well as public relations. Student involvement helps students develop their interests and can open new doors.

In addition to his work with SGA, Rubio was involved in the community with Big Brothers Big Sisters, is a founding father of Sigma Nu Fraternity, and was a member of business fraternity Phi Gamma Nu. This year, Rubio is a career ambassador at the Career Center where he reviews student resumes.

“The body of research and literature has clearly demonstrated the value of involvement in developing transferable skills and competencies that are needed to succeed in life after college, whether that be graduate/professional school or in the workplace,” Minton said. “Mike Rubio is a great example of how involvement on campus can have positive outcomes.”

Rubio said he developed and utilizes teamwork and collaboration skills daily: “Whether as a leader or participant, I value the input of everyone. In my leadership roles, I delegate tasks and receive all possible input into my decision-making process. I can’t stress enough the importance of having good relationships whether that be through family, friends, working relations, and beyond.”

Rubio encourages students to get involved and gain experience while on campus. As a career ambassador and fellow student, he provides these suggestions to help students be active and develop their skills:

  • Get involved outside of class: “Everyone comes here, goes to class, and leaves with a degree. That is just a sentence on the resume that hundreds of other people have. What will you do to market yourself? What organizations will you join? What will you do to meet people? What volunteer work or service organization might benefit from your skills?” It is important not only to learn academically, but to get experience to use those skills outside the classroom.
  • Consider finding a part-time job or an internship: “Do something that helps you professionally and socially. A part-time job or internship could help you make connections with your peers and other professionals and help you gain experience early in your career.” The Career Center’s Part-time Job Fair and Hire-A-Redbird helps many students identify those opportunities and get connected.
  • Attend academic, career and campus events: Most of these programs are hosted for free, so students can participate and utilize as part of their learning experience.

As Student Body President, Rubio will work with other members of the Student Government Association and the student body as a whole. The skills he has developed from his involvement experiences will not only serve him well as an organization leader, but will also help propel him forward in his career. Other students can learn from Rubio’s example not only as an organization leader, but also as a student pursuing the skills he needs for a successful future.