Category Archives: students

How do you get an internship helping a non-profit promote its mission?

Learn how Brianna LaMar is helping the a community organization communicate its mission as a “lifeblood” of support to its communities.

LaMar, a first-generation college student, has worked in the Office of the Vice President and has been a recipient of multiple scholarships, including the Doris& Victor Day Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship, in addition to entering the honors program at WIU-QC. Learn more about her experience, and advice, below.

young woman with blonde hair and purple shirt poses for portrait in front of blood-drop logo

Lamar, a Communication major from Coal Valley, IL, poses at the reception area at her internship site.

Interview

1. What is your internship title, and where do you work? When did you start? Do you have an end date?
My title is Marketing and Donor Promotions Intern at the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. I started in early October 2018, and it ends May 2019, upon receiving my Bachelors in Communication Studies at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities.

2. How does your internship relate to your major or classes?
I use many aspects of my major and the knowledge from my classes every day. One that I use most is Computer Mediated Communication. Because I rely heavily on computers to connect with our donor bases through social media, this class has helped me when connecting with others and understanding communication processes through various online platforms. Others I’ve found beneficial in my daily work are my Persuasion and Persuasive Campaign classes. I’m able to use my knowledge of effective campaign designs when assisting with different donor promotions and marketing campaigns to persuade others. But I think the most important class I’ve taken so far is Interpersonal Communication, because I’m the skills and strategies I’ve learned when I communicate every day on the job with our diverse group of donors and MVRBC staff members.

3. How did you hear about the opportunity?
I came across the ad for the position on indeed.com. I thought it was a great opportunity: to take the knowledge and skills I learned in class and get a head start on a career, possibility using my Communication degree!

4. Can you summarize the process you went through to apply for, and receive, the internship?
I filled out an online application through the company’s website. I first had a phone interview with an HR recruitment coordinator. She asked me about my knowledge of the organization, why I was interested in the position, and I briefly went over my work history. I was then scheduled for an in-person interview with who would become my bosses (Emily, Donor Promotions and Communications Supervisor, and Lori, Community Relations Coordinator). At this interview, I was able to go in depth about my experiences and past positions and showcase some of my past work that qualified me for the intern position. A few days later I received a phone call from the company’s human resources department offering me the position, and I accepted!

Two young women working together over a small laptop.

LaMar receives guidance on a project Emily Roebuck, Donor Promotions and Communications Supervisor at MVRBC headquarters in Davenport, IA.

5. How did you feel on the first day?
I was really curious and excited my first day. I had such a warm welcome, and many of my co-workers introduced themselves and told me how happy they were that I was there. It was nice to feel appreciated. I was eager to learn more about the organization in general and the operation side of things. And I was excited that I was now apart of MVRBC’s leading effort in helping provide blood products to our local communities and enhance the lives of others.

6. What are some of your duties and responsibilities? How do they fit into the bigger picture at the organization?
I have many duties and responsibilities in my position that keep me busy all day long. Two of the most important duties I have include assisting with our Donor for Life program and our Impact Rewards Loyalty Store. Both of these programs celebrate the commitment and dedication of our donors. With each donation given, donors receive automatic points that they can spend on cool blood-center merchandise. We also have select times when we have free promotional items that our donors qualify for. My job is to assist and make sure all of these orders are fulfilled. Other duties include monitoring our social media channels. I assist in making sure we’re getting the word out about current promotions and events our donors can participate in, and I engage with our followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. This includes creating promotional pieces used for advertising these promotions and events, and sending this information to our donor centers.

7. What is the most important skill or task you’re learning at the internship?
The most recent skill I’ve learned is how to create Snapchat geofilters using Canva. I was familiar with the Canva software before working on this task but I didn’t know it could be used for Snapchat! It definitely allows me to use my creativity and add something personal to the geofilters that are used for the special blood drives we run.

8, What’s your favorite thing about the internship?
My favorite thing about my internship is I know the organization makes a huge impact on people’s lives every day. It’s a great feeling to know that you work for an organization whose mission is to serve its communities and help people stay healthy.

9. What’s one thing that has surprised you about it?
I think the thing that has surprised me the most is the amount of donors we have and how big of an impact we have on others. Currently, MVRBC partners with hospitals across Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin to carry out its mission. We’re able to serve more than 4 million residents in our region thanks to our donors’ contributions. That is a huge! And really fascinating to think about the impact our blood products have on many lives.

10. Would you like work for this company, or in this type of job, after graduation? If so, do you feel this internship might help you stand out as a full-time applicant?
I knew when I transferred into Western Illinois University-Quad Cities that I wanted a degree that would give me the flexibility to learn a variety of skills and strategies to help people and make a change in society. I’m thankful that I’ve learned so much from this internship in a short amount of time.

I’m looking forward to the months to come with this organization. The ability to help others and make an impact is such a rewarding feeling. However, my future plans for this coming fall are to continue my education at WIU by enrolling in the College Student Personnel program, and hopefully becoming a career counselor or academic advisor to help students like myself get the most out of their college experience.

11. What advice would you give to someone in your major who might be looking for this same type of opportunity?
My advice would be to use the resources you have available to you on campus. Make connections with your professors and the Career Development Center. They will help prepare you to land a great opportunity while studying in your program of choice. If you want something, go after it. Make yourself unforgettable and showcase your greatest strengths and talents that can land you an internship beneficial to you and your future career ambitions.

 

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Troubleshooting and Teamwork: What It’s Like to be a Part-Time Student IT Analyst for John Deere

Meet Brandon, who came to WIU-QC after serving in the military and beginning his college career in the Pacific Northwest. After getting married, returning to his hometown, and transferring to WIU-QC, Oleson has been a student worker in the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Initiatives on campus, in addition to pursuing his studies and the John Deere Part-Time Student position. 

Name: Brandon Oleson
Hometown: Geneseo, IL
WIU-QC Major: Information Systems

Brandon Oleson, a young man in jeans and a sweater posing in front of new John Deere machinery at the John Deere Pavilion.

Brandon Oleson, an Information Systems major at WIU-QC, poses during Fall 2018 at the John Deere Pavilion, Moline.

“I was a little nervous about starting, just like anyone would be, but I had a lot of helpful people show me the ropes my first day and felt welcomed right away. It made me excited about working there going forward.”

Interview 

1. What is your job title, and where do you work? When did you start? 

I am a Part Time Student IT Analyst at John Deere. I started in June 2018. My projected end date is July 2019, when I receive my bachelor’s degree in Information Systems.

2. How (if at all) does your job relate to your major or classes?
Some of the concepts that I’ve learned in my IS classes have helped me grasp and understand ideas and processes that John Deere utilizes faster.

3. How did you hear about the opportunity?
Some fellow classmates had started working in Part Time Student positions with John Deere, and I heard about the process of applying through them.

4. Can you summarize the process you went through to apply for, and receive, the position?
I applied through the John Deere website. I was then called for an interview where I did two interview sessions in one day, with two different groups of interviewers. They called me a few weeks later and I was offered the job.

5. How did you feel on the first day or upon entering the work site for the first time?
On the first day, I had to go to John Deere Headquarters first thing to fill out HR paperwork and get issued my badge. That was a little intimidating just because it’s the world headquarters. I was a little nervous about starting later in the day at my actual location, just like anyone would be, but I had a lot of helpful people show me the ropes my first day and felt welcomed right away. It made me excited about working there going forward.

6. What are some of your duties and responsibilities? How do they fit into the bigger picture at the company?
We are responsible for troubleshooting major incidents that occur within John Deere’s IT infrastructure. This is done by working with other teams across John Deere.

7. What is the most important skill or task you’re learning on the job?
How to effectively communicate and drive a conversation with multiple people at once and to be able to convey your ideas using technical wording effectively.

8. What’s your favorite thing about the job?
There are always new challenges that vary from day to day. You get to communicate with different people from teams all across John Deere. You also get to help people solve issues and they are usually very grateful for it, which makes you feel good.

9. What’s one thing that has surprised you about it?
How even if you don’t have the technical expertise needed for the job, if you give your best attempt, your coworkers are usually happy to help you out. It’s more of a helpful and teamwork based environment instead of an isolated and “figure it out yourself” type environment.

10. Would you like to see yourself continuing to work for this company or in this type of job after graduation?
Absolutely. I have the opportunity to apply for the Employee Development Program or apply internally after graduation. I will most definitely do that and I believe that this Part Time Student position will have set me up for an opportunity to get hired on as a full-time employee.

11. What advice would you give to someone in your major who might be looking for this same type of opportunity?
Apply to as many internships and part time student positions as you can. This will allow you to get your foot in the door and make it much easier to transition into a job after graduation. Even if you don’t meet all of the requirements of the job listing, still apply anyway. The fact that you took the leap and applied is really all a company is looking for. They don’t expect you to have all of the technical knowledge needed. As long as you work hard and try your best, they will be satisfied with that. The technical knowledge will come with work experience anyways, and you can’t get that if you don’t apply.

young male students having a conversation on a college campus

Oleson chats with a fellow Information Systems student during a study break in the Riverfront Hall atrium.

 

 

Student-Veteran Spotlight: Nela Swindale

Student-Veteran Spotlight: Nela J. Swindale

Major: Accountancy
Hometown: Albany, IL
Class year: Freshman
Military status: Retired
Veterans Resource Center Representative, Quad Cities Complex 2414

woman in black blazer

Nela J. Swindale

Nela’s Story

I am a Retired Staff Sergeant from the US Army. During my time in the service, which began June 1998, I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, and twice at Osan Air Base, South Korea. I had been deployed to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain. My job was Patriot Missile Launcher Operator and Maintainer. I had the responsibility of taking care of specialized military equipment worth in excess of $1 million.

How Military Service Shaped Her

My time in the military allowed me to see the world and open me up to unique cultures and experiences. I feel that the military shaped me in the person I am today by giving discipline to a young raw teenager and guiding me to be driven and passionate about everything that I do. The experience of being part of the military continues to influence me by knowing that anything that can be accomplished through determination, dedication, and occasional team work.

On Veterans Day, I find myself remembering, first, why I decided to join. Both of my grandfathers served (one during Vietnam War, and one in the Korean Conflict). I remember all the different people I had the honor and privilege to work with side by side. And I send out best wishes to those who are currently serving (especially those who are deployed).

My time in the military allowed me to see the world and open me up to unique cultures and experiences. I feel that the military shaped me in the person I am today by giving discipline to a young raw teenager and guiding me to be driven and passionate about everything that I do.

Life Today 

I like that the WIU-QC campus is small, class sizes are small, and that it fits more into my current lifestyle. As a wife and mother, it offers quality education, with friendly staff and professors that focus on the needs of the student, both academically and personally. WIU-offers to opportunity to succeed while still being able to be who you need to be.


To utilize the WIU-QC Veterans Resource Center,  contact Nela at NJ-Swindale@wiu.edu, or Curtis Williams at (309)762-3999 Ext. 62236.

Student-Veteran Spotlight: Abigail Stevenson

Abigail Stevenson,
WIU-QC Veterans Resource Center Representative

Major: Management
Hometown: Cambridge, IL
Class year: Junior
Military status: Air Force veteran

photo of young woman at desk

Stevenson is one of two student-vet representatives in the Veterans Resource Center, located on the 2nd floor of QC Complex, Building C.

Abigail’s Story

When I was in seventh grade, I decided I was going to join the Air Force. I have a family history of members being in the military, from my brother being in Navy, uncles, and grandparents back during World War II.

I enlisted in the military as a junior in high school, in 2009, but I didn’t swear-in until right before basic training in 2010. I served a total of eight years: active duty Air Force Security Forces for two years, and Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) for six. My basic training and technical school were in San Antonio, Texas. I was stationed at Kunsan AFB Korea in 2011 and Ramstein AFB Germany in 2012.

In the Air Force, we are taught three core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in ALL We Do. However, the most important things I learned from being in the Air Force are that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you feel; that it doesn’t matter how outgoing and tough one is, we are all vulnerable; and no matter what your plans may be, God can change them.

“I learned that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you feel; that it doesn’t matter how outgoing and tough one is, we are all vulnerable; and no matter what your plans may be, God can change them.

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photo of young woman pointing to a poster for the WIU-QC Homecoming Dance

Here’s the thinking behind having a Homecoming dance at WIU-QC

Celebrating Homecoming at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities isn’t a new thing, but this year’s celebration will include a brand-new event: the inaugural WIU-QC Homecoming dance.
We asked Priscilla Porter, a Liberal Arts & Sciences major in her second year at WIU-QC, to fill us in on how and why this new event came to be.
photo of young woman pointing to a poster for the WIU-QC Homecoming Dance

Priscilla Porter, chief of staff for the SGA board, wants you to show up even if you don’t dance! Eat the food, play the games…or go ahead and dance!

Being the social butterfly that I am, I was on a mission to find events and clubs on campus last year when I first started attending WIU-QC.

One of the first things I did was join the Student Government Association. Although I didn’t hold a spot on the board, I still voiced my opinion and invested my time in helping with events here on campus.

I loved being a part of SGA, so this year I took the position of Chief of Staff on the board. I pitched my idea for a new approach to homecoming this year. In addition to our typical Homecoming day celebrations, why not have a homecoming dance the night before? This way we could advertise to our community of traditional students that may not know many people on our commuter campus.

We want students to have an opportunity to come together for an evening and get to know others here on campus.

Some of my fellow board members weren’t as sure about hosting this dance, fearing that it would only appeal to a certain kind of college student.

Our way of getting around that issue is to not only provide dancing and a DJ, but to also provide a social area, free Chick- Fil-A and other snacks, and a game room. The game room will be including, but not limited to, poker, Wii games, Apples to Apples, chess, and many more! This way we can have something for everyone to enjoy.

We are excited to see how our first time hosting the event will turn out! It will be in the Quad of the campus this Friday, (Sept. 29), from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.! Friends of students are more than welcome to attend as well; the more the merrier!

We want students to have an opportunity to come together for an evening and get to know others on campus.