Football games at Hancock Stadium, Reggie Redbird, and homecoming parades are nothing new to Bloomington-Normal natives. Yet Lisa DeWeert ’18, MS ‘20 knew her hometown advantage wasn’t what would lead her to a successful career. In fact, it was her involvement in student organizations on campus, participation in internships, and the many connections she made along the way that provided additional value to her undergraduate and graduate studies.
Being actively involved
As an undergraduate student studying communication, getting involved on campus was something DeWeert knew was important. But the impact it was going to make on her was more than she expected. She was a member of the communication honors society Lambda Pi Eta, joined the Association for Women in Communication, and participated in the Young Life Outreach Mentor Program, in addition to serving as a volunteer.
“I volunteered as a note-taker and did that almost every year as an undergraduate. I took notes in classes that I was already taking and submitted them to assist students who struggled with taking notes,” DeWeert. “As a mentor for Young Life I learned how to walk alongside high school and college students.”
Because she was involved in a variety of student organizations, she completed a number of projects that ultimately helped her in her career. “When I then went into job interviews, they (employers) asked for examples of when I developed a certain skill set. I was able to use so many examples from my experiences in those organizations.”
DeWeert also found that being involved on campus was more than something to do with her free time or to add to her resume. “I learned that involvement is important. My college experience was significantly impacted in a positive way by these organizations. It’s the networking, new projects, new friends, and building skill sets that I can talk about in interviews that matters.”
Participating in internships
DeWeert also learned a lot by participating in a variety of internships. In fact, two of them were presented to her through her own hard work and the relationships she developed with the staff in those departments.
“I did an internship with Alumni Engagement. My supervisor was good friends with someone at Career Services and connected me with them. The next thing I knew I was an intern at Center Services,” she said. “Then, when I decided to go to graduate school, I got a graduate assistantship at Career Services. Make sure to say yes to things even if it’s temporary, because gaining experience and making connections are really important.”
Through her experiences as an intern and graduate assistant, DeWeert was able to explore her interests, strengths, and skills. “In jobs that I’ve been in since graduating, they expected me to have certain skills when I started. The only way I had them (i.e., being detail-oriented or knowing how to navigate hard conversations) came from my experiences with organizations and internships.”
Being able to build relationships with others also helped DeWeert with her career. In addition to those she built with Alumni Engagement and Career Services, she also connected with faculty who helped guide her toward her career goals.
“Getting to know my professors early on set me up extremely well. In my classes, I was intentional about getting to know them, going to their office hours, doing research and special projects with them, and developing a relationship,” DeWeert said. “They really got to know me, my career goals and my personality. They helped guide me in the right direction with my best interests in mind. Get to know your professors because that is going to mean everything for your success.”
Today, DeWeert currently works full-time in the ministry as Young Life’s regional administrator in the Chicagoland areas and teaches at both Heartland Community College and Illinois State University. As a successful alum, she encourages Redbird students. “College is all about setting yourself up well to succeed. It matters who you surround yourself with. Getting involved in organizations gave me all the connections and skillsets that I needed to help me be successful in college and now after college.”