Recent grads on their ‘chain’ of successful events

What can a degree from WIU do for you?

For two students who came back to campus recently at WIU-QC, the answer is: find a solid career with one of the world’s most well-known corporations.

WIU-Quad Cities faculty and community leaders welcomed recent grads Jennifer Gibson (left) and Kim Goodwin (right) back to campus recently, where they reunited with their professor, James (a.k.a. “Jim”) Patterson, who serves as assistant dean/associate professor of the QC supply chain management — and was a warehouse supervisor before earning his Ph.D. and entering academia.


photo of professor Jim Patterson and students

Recent WIU-QC grads reunite with their professor, Jim Patterson, in Riverfront Hall

Gibson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and Goodwin, who earned her MBA, both focusing on supply chain management, credited their coursework in areas such as warehouse management; and having required internships, for helping them secure employment as product buyers for John Deere Davenports Works. (The John Deere World Headquarters is based in nearby Moline, Illinois, where WIU-QC is located.)

“Those courses, and having professors who have had real-world experience in the industry, really prepared us,” she said. She also credited the opportunity to participate in a case competition, competing with students from other universities to solve an industry problem. “Things like that really help you develop the critical-thinking and decision- making that you use every day on the job.”

Gibson and Goodwin were invited back to campus recently for a Planning and Advisory Committee meeting, to detail ways that their degrees from WIU-QC, their internship experiences, and their real-world learning experiences in the program prepared them for their positions.

Out of the bunkers and back to broadcasting

[Editor’s note: Last week, University Relations Student Writer Jared Dye gave us a taste of what he was up to last summer. This week, he continues with the lessons learned over the summer and why he’s glad to be back on campus–one of which may be no longer having to get up before 5 a.m.!]

What’s it like when the location of your slow summer job is suddenly in the spotlight? As I mentioned earlier, I had a connection through my family to get a summer job at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL, and I had never done any work like this in my life.

The John Deere Classic ended up being our easiest week of work, despite split shifts where we would work 5 a.m.-9:30 a.m. before returning for a 4-8 p.m. shift. It was exciting to see everything going on around the golf course before the tournament; bleachers were being constructed, businesses were coming in as sponsors and having tents set up, professional golfers were coming in to get a feel for the course and we felt like our work was really meaningful in preparation for the Classic. We were told that we were doing a good job for the first time all summer when our bosses’ bosses came in for the week.

picture of Jared Dye's summer-job crew

That's me, fourth from the right in the front row (squint and you can see me!)

Then John Deere brought in some of their finer equipment to be set up so all the spectators coming in could see it. All in all, the course had thousands of dollars worth of John Deere equipment, for display and for use by the workers. We were told that every 2-4 years John Deere sends new machines, and they auction off or get rid of the “old” equipment that had being used. They take this stuff seriously.

Despite all that, the real experience was just being there and interacting with everyone. We had an interesting staff to say the least; it was made up of a large number of Mexican workers, lifers, and college kids home for the summer–in the heat and long hours, we were like a team made up of people who equally did not want to be there. After taking four years of Spanish in high school, I had not really had the chance to apply my Spanish National Honor Society skills until this summer. I would have conversations in Spanish with some of my co-workers, and I learned a lot about their lives through our part-English, part-Spanish conversations. I will also say that I feel like I improved my “man” skills quite a bit; I can do a lot more than I could before this summer. But I was asked if I would like to come back next year, and… I don’t think so. I should be looking for some kind of job related to my major by then, and I don’t think waking up at 5 a.m. for manual labor will fit in.

I also returned to the Quad City Times for occasional hours, like I have in the past during breaks. I worked in the Sports department there for over two years while attending Black Hawk College and have continued to stay in touch with them and be available to work when I’m home. The only problem with this was it was a night job; I would show up at 7 p.m. and not leave until about 11 p.m. I would do this and then be up bright and early for a long day at the links.

‘Toys’ and ‘Scrubs’–That’s Right, I Like ‘Em!

Outside of work, as you could expect, my summer was a bit dull. I found myself feeling like an old man day after day when I was tired by 10 p.m. and needed to get some sleep. But, I still managed to have some fun during a work-filled summer. Even though a good number of my friends were not home for the summer I still met up with the ones who were in town and played basketball, hung out and vented about the long days. The most excitement I saw this summer included my trips to Chicago and St. Louis, both which revolved around watching the “Scrubs,” or the Cubs for those who still believe.

picture of Jared Dye

Jared Dye, Cubs fan

I did see Toy Story 3, and loved it. I didn’t care if people at work wanted to make fun of me for seeing it; I had seen the first two so naturally I was going to see the third and final of the series.

Towards the end of the summer my family and I made a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for my cousin Liz’s wedding. Liz is my first first-cousin to get married, so I guess it was a big deal. The wedding went as most weddings go, but the real story was the after party, or reception, where things got interesting. We were at Elmcrest Country Club, home of professional golfer Zach Johnson, and one of the first things we noticed was a cookie station set up. My aunt and some friends made just about any cookie imaginable, and it was something that I had never seen at a wedding.

The rest of the wedding was usual; my brother and I danced a bit, not together, and then it was time to throw the garter. I was positioned towards the front of the pack of eligible bachelors, and I had a plan. I was going to leap when I saw it go up and just see what happens. My new family member Tim, my cousins’ husband, tossed it, and just as I had planned, I leaped–and before anyone even knew what hit them, I had it. I had caught the Iowa Hawkeyes-themed garter and was receiving cheers from the crowd.

But, despite all that excitement, by the end of the summer I started feeling drained and my work performance probably started to suffer. And that put me in an unusual position: actually wanting to get back to school.

Senior-year starting line

Maybe this was because it would be my final year of college, I don’t know, but I think that I just wanted to get back into a routine and just forget about summer ’10. Even though I may not have a set plan after college, this is still my final year of school and that is something.

I really like the campus here; probably the main reason I didn’t stay in the Quad Cities to go to WIU’s QC branch is that until the new riverfront campus opens, it’s only one building. It’s nice here and I feel comfortable when I’m in my school and work routine.

I had stayed in contact with my roommate and some others from WIU, and that just kept building up my excitement. I had one class I had to get switched, and I was ready to go for the fall semester of my senior year. I wanted to come down a week before school started to get my apartment situated and to be able to relax and enjoy what was left of the summer. It turned out to be a great week since so many of my friends were already back as well.

And now I’m back, taking five classes (I’m majoring in communication and minoring in broadcasting) and getting used to my schedule. After having all but one or two of my classes in Sallee Hall last year, my classes are actually spread out so I get to see more of the campus and the buildings. I’ve got a new bike this year, too. Things are really starting to come together nicely.

I think that my classes will be fine and my only real obstacle is getting through Comm. 311 so I can take two 400-level writing classes next semester. (If senior year is supposed to be the easiest, wildest and most fun, then no one told me!) I knew that from the start though, so I feel ready to go and get through my final semesters as a Leatherneck.

How did *you* pass the days away? Student writer gives his take on the cheesy-but-classic ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’

[Editor’s note: Meet Jared Dye, a senior communication major from Moline, Ill., who works as a student writer in Western’s Office of University Relations. As one of his first assignments back on the job, Jared was asked to reflect on his summer experiences and share them on this blog.]

I had never seen 5 a.m. until this summer. And that was when my cell phone alarm went off just days after returning from school. What was I thinking taking a job in maintenance at a golf course? For whatever reasons, I did, and I would be starting my days at 6 a.m. or earlier for the summer.

I had a connection through my family to get the job working out TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. I had never done any work like this in my life, and thought working outside didn’t sound too bad. Eight to – days didn’t really intimidate too much, but I really had no idea what to expect. I quickly learned that things out there can be rough, intimidating, unpredictable and never-ending.

Every day started with a 6 a.m. meeting to go over what jobs we would be doing to start the long day. During my first week, you wouldn’t find me anywhere but in the bunkers picking weeds, raking, or doing whatever else had to be done for the part of the course that no one was trying to hit into. Those days were the worst, when you knew you were going to be in the bunkers. I’ve heard that the heat index is significantly higher when surrounded by sand, and I’m here to second that.

But, most of my mornings, there I was mowing the greens or tees. This was not your normal mowing, however; we had mowers designed just for mowing tees and greens. We were told what direction to cut, and what not to do. Next, we would check the board to see our next jobs; and even when all seemed to be done, we would be sent out to do something. We would work in the bunkers, fill divots, string trim around trees or the tall grass areas, trim sprinkler and irrigation heads or some other random job to keep us occupied. It was an everyday struggle, that’s for sure. Rainy days were hit-or-miss; we could be sent home early, but odds are we would either work through it or we would come back to the shop and wait it out. Imagine being soaking wet by 8 a.m. and having to stay out and work until 3:30 in the afternoon–not fun. I wouldn’t deny that towards the end of the summer there was an occasional drop in my productivity on tough days.

But I got through it. I was relieved and proud when I was finally done with my time there. And I made money and got to work at a nice golf course that hosted a PGA tournament. The best time of the whole summer was the week of the John Deere Classic.

Find out more about working the tourney, about the thing Jared “caught” this summer (and it wasn’t a fish or a cold!), and why he got teased about his taste in movies, in Jared’s next post.