This month, the #CASTAlumSpotlight features Stanley Data ’10, who recalls his fondest memory of Illinois State University being the lifelong relationships nurtured at the University. Graduating at a tough period in the United States economy, Data shares precise tips that helped him start a successful career and how current students and graduates can navigate the job search process. We hope you pick one or two lessons from this feature!

How did you transition from being in college to having a career?

My transition from college to a career was an arduous one. I graduated in 2010, two years after the recession, and finding a fulfilling career in the private sector proved difficult. That is when I decided the federal government would be a good place to start looking. Initially, my job search started around the Central Illinois area and gradually expanded further out, eventually taking me to Reno, Nevada, where I began my first position in the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review as a senior case technician, for which my criminal justice degree from Illinois State prepared me.

Currently I work for the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Regional Office, Division of Resource Management, in the Contracts and Water Rights Branch in Sacramento, California.

#CASTAlumSpotlight: Stanley Data built a career right after an economic recession

Stanley Data

What advice do you have for current college students interested in a similar career path?

Beginning a career in the federal government can be extremely frustrating and difficult. The application process is long and drawn out. I would advise students interested in this career path to stay persistent and be willing to relocate to maximize opportunities. If you expand your job search radius, you will increase your chances of landing interviews and eventually a career.

Describe a typical day in your life working for the federal government.

In my current position as a repayment specialist, I coordinate with five area offices and two satellite offices in three states, along with our Denver and D.C. offices, on a variety of water-related contracting issues. Often my responsibilities consist of routine questions on policy relating to new issues I have never encountered in the organization, requiring research into congressional legislation, state law, and the organization’s past practices. One of my most recent projects involved working with the Army Corps of Engineers for repayment on $641 million worth of dam repairs.

Finally, what is your favorite memory of ISU?

Whether it be golfing at Weibring or tailgating at Hancock Stadium, meeting, spending time, and creating lifelong friendships are what I consider my fondest memories of ISU.