Quad Cities Campus

The Importance of Building Strong Relationships

December 17, 2015

Maura Warner and Kasi DeFrieze

Completing your college education is both exciting and daunting; there is the feeling of great accomplishment and the wariness of what the work field is going to have to offer you. Maura Warner and Kasi DeFrieze, who graduated this spring, both probably experienced similar feelings. However, both of them also took to heart the words of wisdom that many of the faculty at WIU-QC give to their students. Networking is important, build relationships.

While at WIU-QC, Kasi was an intern at WQPT and in her senior year she launched the online student publication of The Edge and became the editor-in-chief of The Mirror and the Lamp. Maura was involved in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Organization (LASSO) and Communication Student Society (CSS), she was also a student worker in the marketing department. “I was pretty involved with the different organizations that were tied to my major, they were helpful in building skills for my career…building a relationship with my professors lead me to working at the internship and having friends like Kasi is the way that I heard about this job and applied for it.” Kasi and Maura work in different departments of The Girl Scouts of America in Davenport, Iowa. Kasi is a grant writer for the development team and Maura is the communications coordinator.

Kasi stated she learning to build relationships is like “leveling up”, it might start off as small as talking to a professor about a paper that you are writing or joining in on a discussion in class, but it will lead you to meeting people who are hiring. “I actually met my current boss long before I got this job…networking is everything.”

Maura agreed. “Building a relationship with my professors lead me to work at the internship with Tami Seitz, WIU-QC markeing director and because I was friends with Kasi, I heard about this job and applied for it.” Once you graduate from WIU-QC the networking experience will pay off in more ways than just getting a job. You will use the relationship building skills throughout your career. Kasi explains that working in the development world means that you are doing a lot of networking “I’m responsible for [raising] five-hundred thousand dollars… you aren’t going to get money unless you know people with money, and they aren’t going to give you money unless they know you and like what you are doing.”

Building strong relationships, gave Maura the skills to do her job well. “In your career you really have to be confident in your work and defend your work and I think that writing papers and having discussions in class where you have to defend your work was very essential for being able to defend myself in a professional manner and negotiate for what I need.

Kasi and Maura both noted that writing papers, and getting advice from your professors is essential. When asked if there was ever a time in their career that they finally understood why they were made to do a specific task in college, they mentioned Dr. Hamner’s, Dr. Malachuk’s, and Dr. Young’s assignments. When you are given an assignment that has strict limits, or makes you use critical thinking, it prepares you for the world outside of college. It is important to recognize that you will, as a professional, use the very same concepts and tactics that you used in your classes at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities. Don’t be afraid to build strong relationships with faculty, students, and with those in the community. You never know where it might lead you.

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