Asher Deitch, a December 2014 graduate in natural resources and environmental sciences with a concentration in fish and wildlife, knows the importance of communication in his new job.
Deitch is a biologist at BioResource Consultants Inc. in Ojai, California. In this position, he is involved with a variety of projects including habitat assessments, biological assessments, listed and special-status species inventories, and habitat restoration and mitigation. Deitch spends about half of his time surveying and monitoring biological resources out in the field and the other half in his office quantifying and reporting his findings.
In his first professional job, Deitch has learned a lot from this position. He has advice on how to learn and adjust to a new job.
“It is very easy to become overwhelmed when you are beginning a new job so taking things one step at a time is important,” said Deitch. “Do not try to learn everything in your first couple weeks, but instead focus on mastering certain aspects of your job one at a time.”
He also emphasized the importance of communication in the workplace.
“Ask questions when you don’t know the answer and be willing to go out of your comfort zone,” said Deitch. “Good communication is essential to being productive in a collaborative environment.”
Deitch also encourages students to continue learning and staying up to date in their industry.
“Never pass up the opportunity to take a class that will further your professional knowledge.”
Morgan Booth, a 2013 graduate of the animal sciences program, has seen her career path change over time.
When Booth started college, she wanted to be a large animal vet. However, upon graduation she was a county manager for the Illinois Farm Bureau and now she is the communications director for the Illinois Pork Producers Association.
As the communications director, Booth is in charge of a monthly newsletter, a bi-weekly e-newsletter and the program book for IL Pork Expo. She also sends e-blasts, press releases, social media posts, and keeps their website up-to-date.
Booth’s career path changes were inspired by job shadow experiences and realizing that she enjoyed the communications side of business.
“I am so glad I chose this path, even though it changed quite a bit from when I started college as a freshman,” said Booth.
She encourages students to explore lots of career options.
“I would suggest job shadowing and trying a variety of things early on in college. Keep an open mind about career paths and go to the career fair!”
Kolten Postin, a senior majoring in ACE, knows how important it is to make connections with professors.
Postin is market research and consulting intern at John Deere Innovation Technology Center in Research Park. In this position, he maps dairy operations and develops a cost of production analysis for milk. He conducts both primary and secondary research to gather information.
Postin learned about this opportunity through Professor Gary Schnitkey. Professor Schnitkey asked Postin if he was interested in the position and helped him work with his supervisor to get started.
“If you are interested in an opportunity like mine, let your professors know,” said Postin. “In my situation, John Deere contacted Professor Schnitkey first asking him for prospective students.”
This internship has allowed Postin to learn more about the dairy industry. He has also learned the objectives and processes that companies go through when conducting market research.
“This position has opened up additional career opportunities and has opened my interest in feed ingredient segment in agriculture,” said Postin. “I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten this excellent opportunity!”
Julianna Ge, a senior double-majoring in Human Development and Family Studies and Industrial Engineering, is also a James Scholar in the College of ACES.
This summer, Ge worked for the Pearson Student Advisory Board, a small group of scholars who were selected to serve as advisors to the Pearson leadership team and executives. This position gave her the opportunity to edit and create written or pictorial works for Pearson. Ge is also able to continue this work throughout the semester.
“Given my passion for engineering, people, and education, I thought serving on the Pearson Student Advisory Board would allow me to bypass prosaic intern work and do some tangible good in a relatively short period of time,” said Ge.
The experience has given her excellent insight into the current state of education from a business and personal perspective. This insight will be especially useful as Ge plans to attend graduate school in education after receiving her bachelor's degree.
Working for Pearson was the perfect opportunity for Ge, but she couldn’t have gotten there on her own. As a freshman in the James Scholar program, Ge met some of her closest friends. The James Scholar program also gave her the opportunity to be the co-president of the James Scholar Advisory & Leadership Team. Ge’s James Scholar honors coordinator is even going to write her a letter of recommendation for graduate school.
“Being a part of the James Scholar program helped me form close friendships with many intelligent students, staff, and faculty, which then helped connect me to the resources I needed to succeed.”
Erin Kettelkamp, a junior studying animal sciences with a pre-vet concentration, took advantage of a job shadow opportunity over winter break last year.
Kettelkamp job shadowed at Nestlé Purina PetCare’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. She applied for the opportunity on I-Link and was contacted by one of the senior scientists to set a date over winter break to spend with the company.
“They really cared to reach out to me, talked with me on the phone and found out what my interests and goals were in order to give me the best experience,” said Kettelkamp.
During the job shadow, Kettelkamp had the opportunity to meet with representatives in various departments, human resources representative, and scientists. She also got to tour the processing plant and have hands on experience with their quality assurance tests. The participants were encouraged to ask questions throughout the day.
“Every employee was so warm and welcoming it really gave me the opportunity to get the most out of that day,” said Kettelkamp.
Before this job shadow experience, Kettelkamp was curious about the nutrition industry in relation to veterinary medicine. Because of her experience, she is planning to take more nutrition classes.
“If you are not sure about your career path, or are curious about a certain industry, a job shadow is a great way to get your feet wet,” Kettelkamp advised. “They allow you to network with professionals and get an inside look without necessarily committing to a job or internship position.”
Nick Tarleton, a senior studying food science and human nutrition, did a job shadow at Newly Wed Foods in Chicago during Winter Break.
Newly Wed Foods is a smaller food corporation that is the premier global purveyor of customized breads, batters, seasonings, and functional ingredients. During the job shadow, Tarleton got to see many departments in the company including sales and marketing, research and development, quality assurance, regulatory, production, and sensory departments.
“My favorite department during the job shadow was research and development where I had the opportunity to play around with the ratio of spices that add flavor to cooked potato chips,” said Tarleton.
Tarleton also had the opportunity to network during the job shadow. He found that the industry professionals were interested in getting to know him. They asked him to keep in touch and offered their assistance if he needed it.
“Job shadows have helped me better understand what I am learning in the classroom,” said Tarleton. “Take advantage of opportunities pertaining to job shadows and internships, maintain an updated I-Link and LinkedIn profile, make valuable and true connections with industry professionals, and keep in touch with the industry professionals you meet. It makes a huge difference.”