IGI Career Day, 2023

By Terri Gitler

Over 40 University of Illinois students attended Illinois Global Institute Career Day, an event focusing on using foreign language, area studies, and thematic studies in the job market. They heard from U of I alumni speakers representing careers in academia, the US government, technology, non-profit organizations, and non-tenure track teaching and post-doc positions. Time was set aside for one-on-one informational interviews as well.

Maureen E. Marshall (Associate Director, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center) had hoped that students would come away with a broader sense of what jobs and careers might be out there for them and to realize and appreciate the skills they have learned during their studies--skills that they can translate into experience and knowledge on the job market. In short, she wanted them to feel more empowered in their job search.

After the event, Maureen shared that she “was absolutely blown away by all of the positive energy, inspirational presentations, and appreciation that I heard about from both students and alumni. It was such a fabulous opportunity for our alumni, students, and staff as well to engage and mix practical advice with life lessons. I think we all learned a lot from each other!”

Speakers had words of advice for students seeking jobs:

  • Esailama Arty-Diouf, Senior Program Officer (San Francisco Foundation), stressed that students examine their transferable skills (from their academic life or ones learned on jobs—even lower level ones); make sure their personal passion aligns with the mission of their workplace; make an effort to understand financial issues because they are of great importance in the non-profit field; look to couple their major with another subject (such as African Studies and anthropology or a language); keep their options open.
  • Anthony Chan, Associate Japanese Curriculum Designer (Duolingo), advised students to check LinkedIn profiles of people who have the jobs they want and to study their histories and resumes.
  • Laura Fyfe, Course Design Specialist (Foreign Service Institute), who creates French courses for people in the Foreign Service Institute to take before they go abroad, suggested students try to determine what they enjoyed doing day to day. Would they be satisfied sitting in front of a computer, being out in the field, collaborating with other colleagues? The answers could influence the type of position they hoped to obtain.
  • Eduardo Alvarez, Refuge Officer (US Citizen and Immigration Services) wished that this type of event had occurred when he was a student, and the students I spoke with were very pleased that it was open to them.

Kayla Constabileo, double major in Psych/Geography with minor in Spanish and Global Studies (May ‘25), appreciated that speakers stressed career paths are not linear and don’t exist in a vacuum. Kayla is in the LAS Global Leaders Program and hopes to work one day with diverse populations, possibly in the United Nations.  

Elizabeth Strebel, Global Studies/French major (May’25), found the event inspiring and was especially glad to learn about the many fellowship she is eligible to apply for.