As the spring semester is in full swing and we start to aim toward the mid-semester break, a few former student employees were able to sit down and reflect on how their working experience on and off campus not only helped them with incidental costs but also aided in the preparation for lifelong careers.
Sheldon Gooch (2019, art history), the curatorial assistant at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, is currently conducting research for upcoming exhibitions, assisting in the installation of artworks, and providing administrative support weekly just two and a half hours south of campus. He credits much of his preparedness for his role there not only from his studies, but how his studies paired well while working at the University Galleries.
“I changed my major from political science to art history, and my advisor actually suggested a job at the Galleries. In addition, I held a job at the ISU Telefund Center speaking with Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts alumni about the updates at Illinois State University and the opportunity for them to give back,” said Gooch. “The cold-calling really helped to develop impromptu speaking and my ability to cultivate a safe conversation space for varied audiences. That, along with the guidance and mentorship of both Barry Blinderman and Kendra Paitz, who taught me the social and technical nuances of the art world, are why I was so prepared to take on a wide variety of tasks in my current role.”
Gooch added that the things he learned on campus (and off) while working at the Galleries are a list too long to detail -exhibition installation, archival digitization, program development, networking, and speaking to visitors and art appreciators across a large spectrum, along with administrative skills.
Sam Garcia (2016 finance) relayed similar experiences on campus in his preparation for a career in his targeted field. Garcia is currently working as a portfolio analyst in Chicago at PPM America, after spending some time just after graduation at US Bank.
“Working with college students and having to explain charges of $15 for a replacement ID might not seem like that difficult of a conversation, but $15 can be a lot for those students,” Garcia said. “That experience at the Redbird Card Office gave me the confidence and tools for one of my internships, where similarly, I had the responsibility of contacting clients to inform them of dormant accounts and the need to take action”
Garcia also said: “It is a bit odd for me to use the word ‘nurturing,’ but that is how I would describe the staff at Redbird Card Office in my experience working there. They really cared about me being successful both in the classroom and with my job there. We would laugh occasionally on the first day of freshman pictures, when parents and new students would assume that I was working there because I was a major in photography. With the financial aspect of that office, that not many people realize, it is a great fit for a business and/or finance major wanting to gain practical experience for the future.”
Jasmine Davis (2020, business administration) took a slightly different path to filling in employment during her time on campus. Davis worked off campus at a local bar and grill, while serving as president of Redbird Red Cross on campus.
Davis noted that her off-campus experience gave her the sense of prioritization and organization that she uses daily in her current role as a sales agent (and soon to be risk management coordinator) at Walt Disney Co.
“I would say that as president and treasurer of Redbird Red Cross, College of Business ambassador, and working off-campus bartending—I was able to practice the art of multitasking and networking while learning how important it is to align my values with the companies and organizations I serve. That is why Disney was such a good fit,” said Davis. “If I were to give my younger college self any advice, it would be to take advantage of those opportunities on-campus as well – they are so important to consider for fit and additional practical learning during your time at college.”
Jobs on campus are just a click away at Jobs.IllinoisState.edu and specifying “student” as the type of employment. Internships and off-campus employment are located at Hire-A-Redbird, and getting involved in an organization where you can also build up your business skills can be found at RedbirdLife.IllinoisState.edu.