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Alumna speaks to audience at a conference.

Alumna Ashley Shannon speaks to the audience during her RED[bird] Talk at the Involvement to Industry conference.

Students learn from alumni at Involvement to Industry Conference

As part of Student Affairs Week this fall, the Division of Student Affairs hosted its inaugural Involvement to Industry Conference for students and alumni on Saturday, September 28. This new conference provided the opportunity for students to hear directly from alumni about how their involvement experiences at Illinois State have helped them throughout their careers.

Students gained knowledge about how to leverage their advanced leadership skills and prepare for their careers, with breakout sessions that covered topics such as pursuing passions and learning about employee benefits. The conference also featured a track designed specifically for alumni to aid in their own professional growth, including sessions on navigating career transitions and how to work with Gen Z.

In addition to breakouts, the conference offered many opportunities for students and alumni to make connections and engage in meaningful conversations, from a networking lunch to an interactive Birds Bookshelf session, modeled from The Human Library® concept.

Illinois State senior Julia Durnell, shared, “Because of this conference, I now know how to use the skills I obtained throughout my undergraduate degree in a professional manner. Not only did the conference show me how to market myself, but it also gave me the chance to do so through networking with successful alumni.”

One of the highlights of the conference were the RED[bird] Talk speakers, who served as keynotes to kick off and close the conference. Speakers included Ashley Shannon ’18, Jim Bennett ’87, Heidi Voorhees ’80, and Steve Smith ’89, M.S. ’93. Each talk offered inspiring messages for students, encouraging them to explore what motivates them and focus on the impactful experiences throughout their collegiate journeys and careers.

Erin Thomas, director of advancement and assessment for the Division of Student Affairs, explained, “We have incredibly talented alumni who often express a desire to connect with students and offer them guidance through mentorship. This conference was an excellent tool to facilitate these connections and serve as a catalyst for further relationships among our students and alumni.”

For more information or to learn how to become involved in next year’s Involvement to Industry Conference, contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs at (309) 438-1748.

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