Learn what it’s like after graduation at What’s Next set for Feb. 25

The NIU community is invited to attend What’s Next, an inaugural event that takes an in-depth look into what students can expect after graduating from NIU and enter the workforce.

Sponsored by JobsPLUS in partnership with NIU Athletics and Student-Athlete Academic Support Services, What’s Next will take place Feb. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Former Huskie football teammates and current NIU graduate students Dale Brown (left) and Daron Brown (right) are the founders and hosts of What’s Next, a career event set for Feb. 25 at the Convocation Center.

Graduate assistants and former NIU football teammates, Dale Brown and Daron Brown, had the vision for an event where students could engage with their peers, alumni, faculty and staff to learn what happens when they leave NIU.

“Events like this are important to raise awareness and also to give others a chance to be a resource and pay it forward,” said Daron Brown, a 2016 NIU grad and current graduate assistant for Student-Athlete Academic Support Services. “The hope is that students leave with an understanding and a plan set for life post-graduation; this is about Huskies taking care of Huskies.”

Dale Brown, a 2019 NIU grad and current graduate assistant for JobsPLUS, shared the sentiment.

“Students need to realize the importance of being properly prepared for the next level,” Dale Brown said. “There are many resources and strategies to obtain a fulfilling career that is a great fit for you.”

The event will be facilitated by Melissa Fickling, assistant professor in the department of Counseling and Higher Education.

“Events like this are the very heart of what NIU offers students: opportunities to connect, engage, and develop skills for their future,” Fickling said. “My hope is that attendees will be able to see the resources they’ve used to make it through transitions in the past and to gain ideas for how to successfully navigate those inevitable future transitions.”

Fickling said even the best plans have unplanned twists, so it’s important to be prepared in case life takes a path that was unexpected. 

“I hope that any students who are unsure if they want to participate will take the step to attend because I think they will find it well worth their time,” Fickling said. “Alumni and NIU faculty and staff are eager to get to know students outside the classroom and be resources for their career development.”

Chad Glover, director, JobsPLUS, said a lot of JobsPLUS programming focuses on opportunities for students to build career skills and opportunities to make career connections.

“Career success is influenced by what you know and who you know,” Glover said. “What’s Next is one of those events that we hope combines both.”

Dale Brown agreed.

“Students should have as many opportunities as possible to differentiate the way they think and prepare their next step in life,” Dale Brown said. “Hearing from peers and others that have been through their same situation can help make their path to success more efficient.”

NIU alumni and others interested in the event are asked to register online.

“We would love to see as many alumni, faculty, staff, and community members interested in this event sign up online to participate,” Glover said. “They will have the chance to join in for small roundtable discussions with students during the event.”

Advanced registration is required for students and there will be free food available. Attendees must be able to arrive by the event start time and remain until the end of the event.

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