What are you going to do after you graduate?

Oct 6
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

"What are you going to do after you graduate?" The question I have a nice, well thought out, fake answer for, and the real answer only my Dad, my best friend, and my dog know. Well, and soon you will too. As a freshman, if you didn't know what you wanted to do you were told, “Don’t worry! You have four years to figure it out." Well, it's year four now and I'm nervously dodging this question every day because I HAVEN’T FIGURED IT OUT. In the midst of my anxiousness, I have found some answers/tips/thoughts for those of you in the same boat as me. Hopefully they help you out as well, and we can all adult together.

1. Breathe: You made it this far. You are smart and resourceful and whatever may come next in your life, you might not be ready for, but you will undoubtedly learn and grow from.

2. Narrow it down:  What are some classes you really enjoyed or didn't enjoy? Is there a specific job or internship that really sparked your interest? A certain company that you really liked or a professor you connected with? Write it all out and narrow it down to a couple of interests, companies, professors, ideas. Research this stuff on your own and sit with it in your thoughts for a while. It could lead to new paths you haven’t thought of before.

3. Ask all the questions: Find someone in the field you're interested in and shoot them an email. Talk to some of the companies about having a tour of their facilities or find employees willing to talk about their experiences. Go meet with your advisor/professor. They've been on this journey with you and they know how you work and what you're good and not good at. Tell them what you like to do and they'll have plenty of resources and guidance for you.

4. Seize the opportunities: I've found that the reason I don't know what I want to do yet, is because I have all these options and I haven't grabbed any of them. My toes are in the water of a lot of different ponds and I really just need to jump at this point. You may love where you end up and want to wade around or you may want to immediately get back on dry land, but if you don't jump you will never know. No one is making you do anything at this point. The choice is truly yours, and although it may sound frightening, it's so very freeing. You can choose again and again and again till something feels right and there’s no wrong way of doing it.

So I think we have a lot more than four years to "figure it out." We have the rest of our lives to figure it out and even then I don't know if that's enough time. But I'm sure I will do things I love and things I don't love and I'll experience more than I can imagine. You will too! We got this.

Dept of Animal Sciences seniors sign

Register as a 4-H alum during National 4-H Week

Sep 29
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

What do Chancellor Robert J. Jones, Coach John Groce, Philanthropist Lila Jeanne Eichelberger, Professor Bruce Fouke, Voice of Illini Sports Brian Barnhart, and I all have in common? We were 4-H members and can trace where we are now to the lessons we learned in 4-H.

In Chancellor Jones’ welcome address, he pledged to uphold the mission of the land-grant mission which created Extension and 4-H. “The land-grant mission is in my bloods, and I am a proud product of it,” Jones said. “And as chancellor at Illinois, one of the original land grants established by the Morrill Act, I have the opportunity to help ensure that my experience is one that any student can have in this century of higher education.”

Each 4-H alum has their own unique story. 4-H camp, public speaking contest, club officer elections, national trips, county fairs, and beloved 4-H club leaders; your 4-H memories helped make you the person you are today.

We’d like to hear the story of all the folks on campus who are 4-H alum, and give you a 4-H alumni t-shirt to celebrate your 4-H heritage. There’s no better time to relive 4-H than during National 4-H Week Oct. 2-8. Go online @ go.illinois.edu/4Halumni and complete a short survey. Then, drop by 101 Mumford Hall and pick up your t-shirt. It’s that simple. The invitation is open to all current University of Illinois staff, faculty, and students.

My memory? It would have to be my 4-H leader, Phyllis Schultz. I learned to sew and cook and speak and lead from Phyllis. I can feel her breath on my neck still today as she leaned over you at the sewing machine and watched you stitch each seam. When needed, she handed you the seam ripper, and you got to do it all over again. She encouraged me during my first speech as I showed my club how to make shaken pudding.

She was a living example of hard work and selfless giving; a lesson I try to live daily. Even as cancer stole her health, she kept working. She never gave up. So I “4-H” for her. I 4-H for the first generation families who need to learn the lessons I’ve learned. I 4-H for my community, country and world.

I have the best job in the world because every day, I bring people to 4-H. Be sure to register as a 4-H alum and share your 4-H story.

University of Illinois Chancellor Robert J. Jones,

Philanthropist Lila Jeanne Eichelberger

All the Fall Things

Sep 29
Paige Jones, Junior in Agricultural Communications

It’s time to break out the scarves and boots because October is here! October is an exciting and beautiful time to be on the University of Illinois campus as we watch the leaves turn to Illini orange and paint the Quad with school spirit. We look forward to football games, club retreats, and Homecoming as we’ve all officially settled in to the school year, and the fall semester has really taken off. As exciting as this time of year can be, it’s also extremely overwhelming. You begin to worry about the career fair and midterm exams all while you’re probably getting sick from the cold weather. As a junior, I feel like I have finally figured out the right way to conquer October so I’ve compiled a list of necessities so you, too, can survive October.

1. Cold Medicine
First things first, this cold has got to go. It’s harder to focus in class when you feel miserable, and you’re self-conscious about how loud you’re coughing during lecture. Buy some cold medicine and some cough drops to help get you through the day and, most importantly, try your best to get enough sleep.

2. Business Professional Apparel
The ACES & Sciences Career Fair is next Thursday, October 6! You’ll need to look your best to impress the employers. Whether you’re at the career fair or in an interview, looking professional gives you confidence to help you land that summer internship or receive a job offer.

3. A Study Room
Learning how to rent a study room was quite possibly the most helpful thing I learned my freshman year. Visit https://uiuc.evanced.info/Dibs to call dibs on a study room in any university library. Whether you rent a room for a group project or just for some privacy, you’re bound to be much more productive so there’s no need to stress over upcoming projects and exams.

4. Illini Gear
Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue… Homecoming is October 23 – 29, and it is the perfect opportunity to show some school spirit. Football games, volleyball games, and Homecoming are all great excuses to buy some new Illini apparel.

The semester is in full swing in the month of October, but I’m confident we’ll all survive the tough exams and still have some time for a little fun. Fall at the University of Illinois is often equal parts incredible and stressful. I hope my pieces of advice are helpful as you begin to conquer October. The most important advice I can offer is to enjoy October, enjoy this beautiful campus, and enjoy being an Illini.

Fall blog


Sep 28
Meredith Blumthal, Director of ACES Education Abroad Program

The workplace is becoming more global, and cross cultural skills are now a top skill that employers seek out of new graduates. Just this past August, at the 2016 Ag & Food HR Roundtable, sponsored by AgCareers.com, which is an event for HR and educational professionals that provides relevant content examining recruitment and retention specifically within the ag and food industry. Jean Drasgow, ACES Director of Career Services, texted me a slide from the session she was attending. The presenter asked all the employers in the audience the following question:

“You are considering three candidates for an entry level position. All have internship experience related to your company’s type of work. They also each have one other unique employability experience. Which one do you choose based on the other experience?

  • 46 percent of the room chose “Cross cultural experience where they had to live and learn to work in a substantially different environment from their home or school.”
  • 15 percent chose “Leadership experience in student government and student clubs”
  • 39 percent chose “Teamwork experience in running a student business or building a project for a national competition, a solar car for example)”.

The easiest and most rewarding way for a student to gain cross-cultural skills is to study abroad for a semester. Not only can you study abroad, but the College of ACES offers several programs that allow you to study and intern in places such as Sierra Leone, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Argentina, Greece and Costa Rica. These study and intern programs are on the rise, and while most overseas internship programs are non-paid, a few do offer payment or stipends, and some offer room and board in exchange for work. Combining an internship experience with your studies will allow you to even further immerse yourself into your chosen destination and forces you to rely on your intercultural communication skills and push the boundaries of what you are capable of. So what are you waiting for? Go get out of your comfort zone and develop your cross-cultural experience! #adventureisoutthere #acesabroad.

Skills Employers Value

What being behind the scenes of #RealPigFarming taught me

Sep 27
Nicole Chance, Sophomore in Agricultural Communications

This summer I had the opportunity to intern with the National Pork Board; a dream that I was thankful enough to have become a reality. Through this experience I have been humbled to give back to an industry that has given so much to me.

The satisfaction of what I have had the opportunity to experience this summer has simply come from  hearing stories of what America’s pig farmers have done to make the pork industry even better than the day before. I was able to see this first hand with #RealPigFarming.

#RealPigFarming is a social media campaign that helps tell America’s Pig Farmers’ stories. It sheds light on the amount of care, compassion and meticulous thinking and knowledge that goes into being a pig farmer. These are real farms and real stories and they speak volumes to the passion pig farmers have in raising pigs to the highest quality possible.

I know this opportunity would not have been possible without the experiences and knowledge I have gained being a part of the College of ACES. Whether it was my course work or the clubs I have been actively involved in, I have gained an appreciation for the opportunity ACES has to offer. It is a part of my story, and one I want to share with everyone around me.

As I reflect on my experience at the National Pork Board and sharing the stories of #RealPigFarming, I constantly ask myself ‘what can we do in ACES to help share our #ACESstory?’ And the answer is it simply starts with you! Everyone has a story, how has The College of ACES been a part of that story?

Nicole Chance Internship

Interning with National Pork Board this summer

Nichole Chance
Help us tell our #ACESstory!

U of I Extension helping counties prepare for the worst

Sep 27
Rick Atterberry, ACES Media Communications Specialist

One of the questions in this post-9/11, post-Hurricane Katrina world is how smaller counties and communities can be better prepared to meet emergencies.  University of Illinois Extension is assisting some of these counties as they plan to face the uncertainties of disaster response. 

Extension has helped counties:

  • Complete mitigation plans
  • Protect small businesses and non-profits
  • Organize community groups to assist in responding to disasters
  • Provide guidance on cropland and landscape restoration
  • Help residents cope with financial uncertainties
  • Plan to care for children, the elderly and other at risk populations
  • Assess structural and crop damage for aid applications
  • Quantify economic impact
  • And address other related issues

Just last week, during this National Preparedness Month, Lisa Fulkerson, County Director and Carrie McKillip, Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development Educator in Henderson, Knox, McDonough and Warren Counties hosted a disaster exercise at the Extension office in Stronghurst. I served as the controller for the event which simulated the derailment of several cars of a freight train and the subsequent leak of a petroleum based product from a tank car. This is a very real concern in a town that has 85 trains (not train cars…trains!) a day run through it.  We were assisted by a representative of a cleanup firm under contract to Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad.

Driving the 3-plus hour drive back to Champaign that evening, the thought struck me that more students live in dorms and certified housing on campus than live in all of Henderson County. Yet, 31 people, representative of dozens more in their respective organizations, took time out to participate in the exercise. As we went through the various scenarios it was evident that they knew exactly what local resources would be available to meet any challenge because those responsible were their friends and neighbors.

It also occurred to me that the Extension staff around the state are some of those same resources in their communities. So during this month, whether as part of their job duties or as volunteer firefighters, emergency medical technicians, blood donors or members of churches and other organizations who support emergency response, we thank those Extension staff or others in the College of ACES who help keep their neighbors safe when the worst happens.


Searching for perspective

Sep 26
Ariel Majewski, ACES Marketing Intern & junior in journalism with a minor in music

Photography is all about searching for new perspectives. Looking for something you’ve never noticed before. Delving into an environment you’ve never thought to explore. I take this philosophy to heart as a first-year photography intern for the college of ACES. I am a sophomore majoring in journalism with absolutely no background in agricultural, consumer, and environmental sciences.

None. Zip.

Thankfully, my Ag Comm roommate comes to my rescue on this field. Shout out to her for informing me of the existence of poultry competitions! And what FFA stands for. And how to distinguish every tree on campus.

Needless to say, I have much to learn about events, registered student organizations, and research conducted in all ACES departments—because even photographers have to do a little research before showing up to their assignments. The more I know about the people and work involved, the better I can represent their efforts and personalities via picture.

Another fun challenge in my internship is how I showcase my photos. I work in the mobile lands of Instagram. But before I obtained this position, I had not posted a single picture on my own Instagram. Did I mention that my friend created the account for me? I still don’t think she ever told me my password…

I also have to learn the art of Instagramming with a Nikon camera instead of a smartphone. Although I love my Galaxy S7, there’s something about a $500 lens that screams “use me!” So with the lovely help of Yahoo answers, I have been able to successfully transfer my photos to Instagram without ever touching my Android.

When I attend any event, I take hundreds of pictures. I love close-ups, bird’s eye angles, low angles—really any way that requires me to contort myself in a ridiculous position. It’s easy to pick 60 of my favorites and create a huge Facebook album. But for Instagram, I have to choose one photo. I try to find a perspective that focuses on a small aspect but still reflects the entire event.

After I find the correct photo to use, I proceed to the hardest step. Captions. Oh captions—how you tease my brain. As a journalist, I constantly have to speak with an objective mind. But with Instagram captions, I need to add that advertising spin which does not come so naturally. And I always seem to forget at least one hashtag. #thestruggleisreal

After four weeks on the job, I have already gained some insightful lessons. First, I’ve learned to stay at an event until it’s completely over. Not five minutes before it’s over, not before the last round of applause. Not even if I already have 400 pictures covering the event. One night, I took 165 pictures of a speaker throughout his lecture, and he only smiled at the end during the questioning. It was a brief smile, but the picture set a heart-warming tone. His facial expression and posture illustrated passion for his profession and animate desire to help students succeed. My favorite picture by far.

Finally, I’ve learned to always upload my photos to a flash drive. You never know when a little corn beetle may crawl into your laptop and screw up your hardware. That’s one bug McAfee can’t fix.

When I first arrived on campus my freshman year, I never thought I would become part of the ACES story. But I am so glad I did, and I am looking forward to preserving more ACES moments to come.

Ariel and camera

Attending the career fair

Sep 21
Krista Temple, Junior in Agricultural Communications

In just a few short weeks, potential employers will fill the gym at the ARC and student will put on their most professional outfits. The ACES & Science Career Fair is almost here! As a student, it’s easy to be a bit nervous for the career fair. From one student to another, here are some tips for a smooth and successful career fair.

1. Do your research.
Do your research and know ahead of time which employers you want to talk to. If there is a company you are really interested in, find out more about their organization and see what positions they are hiring for.

2. Refine your resume.
Update your resume and bring it in to Career Services’ drop-in hours to get tips on how to improve it.

3. Just go!
Even if you’re just a freshman, go to the career fair. I went as a freshman and honestly had no idea what I was doing. While it was overwhelming and a bit scary that year, when I went back as a sophomore, I knew exactly what to expect and had a plan of attack.

The ACES & Sciences Career Fair will be on October 6 from 1:30 to 6 p.m. at the ARC. You never know what opportunities you might discover! Good luck!

ACES & Science Career Fair

Almost 150

Sep 20
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

Birthdays can be feted for just about anything, and a milestone is just around the corner for the University of Illinois. Next year, on February 28, 2017, the celebration will begin, marking the first 150 years of the University’s saga and looking forward to the next many years. That idea is etched in stone on Davenport Hall, formerly known as the Agriculture Building on the main quad, where it reads, “Industrial education prepares the way for a millennium of labor – Turner”.

The theme for the sesquicentennial year is “Shaping the Future Since 1867.” Over the course of 15 months, gala events will transpire, books will be published, banners will wave, new construction projects will rise, and funds will be raised. At the heart of this particular anniversary celebration, stories will be told – stories that remember and stories that inspire. Those of us in the College of ACES know that this college and its direct predecessors have been a central part of the University of Illinois story from the very beginning. And we also know that this college will shape much of the University’s story and the landscape of Illinois long into the future.

So, we are inviting people to share their Illinois stories with us, especially those that involve ACES, U of I Extension, 4-H, or any of the allied programs and institutions that have come before or exist today. Among those contributions will be kernels of inspiration for young people, students, scientists, and citizens that we can use to illustrate the scope of impact that the University of Illinois and ACES has on the lives of people in Illinois and around the world. So start thinking about your Illinois story, and how your life, your community, or your profession has been changed as a result. You can already start to contribute ideas to the main campus website, http://150.illinois.edu/, and the College of ACES will soon be reaching out for stories of all kinds. So be thinking and be watching as we gear up for 150 candles!

150 Years of Illinois

Busy Student, Happy Student

Sep 19
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

For the first time in my life I can say that I’m the parent of a college student. I’ve seen other parents go through this countless times, and I get to see the student side of it every year. But this year I found myself wondering how my daughter would adjust to college life. Would she like it? Would she be homesick, or would she even think about us at all?

It turns out her experience so far has reinforced what I have observed throughout many years of working on a college campus: a busy student is a happy student! Or at least, a busy student doesn’t have time to be unhappy. I’ve always told incoming students to make sure they get involved in something as soon as they set foot on campus. Not too involved; they don’t want to be overloaded with activities while they’re trying to adjust to college life. But involved in something; something they can be a part of, something that will allow them to meet people; something they enjoy that will energize them. If you know a new college student, encourage them get involved. Why spend time moping in a dorm room when there’s a campus full of people to meet and things to do!

I think we can all learn something from this. We all need activities in our lives that give us energy and make us feel like we’re part of something. Yes, perhaps being busy makes time pass too quickly, but it also is what helps us make an impact on the world around us, and let the world impact us!

In case you’re wondering, my daughter found her niche in music, which is her major and her major activity. Before she even started classes she spent a week in band camp meeting other students and having a great time. And being involved in band has made her more aware of other opportunities. She has two very proud parents, even though we’re not missed nearly as much as we might like! She’s finding her way in life, and as a parent, that is one of the most fulfilling feelings I’ve ever had.

Dean Emmert's Daughter