Rebecca Latham, ’14 had an uncertain start at college but found her way and continues to grow in her career. As the director of communication for Deerfield School District, she recollects her experiences of how she found her calling and a career she truly loves.
Choosing a major
How did you choose your major? Was this something you always wanted to do?
I was never someone who knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. When I started at Illinois State, I wanted to study criminal justice. After taking the introductory course, I was not sure it was the right path for me. After some career advising from the Career Center, I signed up for the introductory course for public relations and fell in love with it right away.
How did your internship land you to your dream job? How have you applied what you learned in your career today?
First, if I had not done career counseling, I would not have thought to try public relations.
Second, working for the Career Center as an intern shaped my whole career. After interning for the Career Center, I felt that working for a school or university was a path I wanted to pursue. I learned so many skills while interning for the Career Center from creating/maintaining my portfolio to skills for interviewing. Having mentors like Susan Whitsitt, Nancy Kennedy, Pam Cooper, and the rest of the staff at the Career Center shaped me as a professional and as a person. I am forever grateful for their guidance and support. I reflect back on my internship frequently. I believe that what I learned during my time at the Career Center helped to shape me into the professional I am today.
Career preparation and readiness
What are some other ways you prepared for your career?
I was very involved in college. I was a member of Delta Delta Delta and held a position where I built my leadership skills. Having my experiences outside of the classroom helped me get my position out of college and taught me many communication, collaboration, and leadership skills that I have taken with me into my career.
I was also a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), where I was able to network and collaborate with students and professionals in the public relations field. We learned about different career options and ways to be successful.
What is a typical work day for you?
My typical day at work includes assisting coworkers with communication to the community, updating the websites, and much more! No two days typically play out the same. The greatest thing about my job is being able to assist my coworkers, who I adore, in providing the best educational experience for our students.
What was the transition like from college to professional life?
The transition from college to professional life can be a challenge. There can be many changes to your life (lifestyle, location, schedule), but if you find a career you love, it will all be worth it!
What would you do differently if you did college again?
I would not do anything differently. I loved my experience at Illinois State University and I feel lucky to call it my second home.
What is your advice for other Redbirds following your career path?
You don’t need to figure it all out right away. There are so many people at the Career Center and in every department at the University who are there to help you, reach out to them and ask questions. Participate in activities outside of class. Be yourself and be kind to others.
What are your next steps?
I just began online classes! I am working toward my masters in communication and leadership with a concentration in strategic and organizational communication.
What did you enjoy most about your Redbird experience?
My favorite memories as a Redbird all revolve around the friendships I made, in my classrooms, sorority, and residence hall. My friends made my experience a great one!
If you’re a recent Redbird alum who has experienced career success, encourage other Redbirds with your career success. Share it today at STATEYourSuccess.
The Career Center assists students with developing, evaluating, and implementing career decisions and supports Illinois State University’s Educate Connect Elevate: Illinois State—The Strategic Plan for Illinois’ First Public University 2018-2023