INA, Ill. – For many students, on-the-job training and internships are just as important when it comes to learning about a career choice as the classes they take during college. This is especially true for Rend Lake College alumnus Cailah Brock, who turned her experiences at RLC into a career that she hopes to grow for years to come.
The Benton native and now resident of Herrin graduated from RLC in 2011 with an Associate Degree in Agricultural Business. Knowing what she wanted to do from the start, she set the foundation for her future in the classrooms of RLC.
“When I went into Ag, I decided that I wanted to be a rep, and the classes at Rend Lake College definitely helped me with certain jargon and terminology. Also, to graduate, I had to take a class that was like a ‘getting you ready for life’ kind of class where we talked about tips and different avenues to look into. It was required at RLC and having it that early definitely helped,” she said.
As a part of the Agriculture program, Brock spent several summers working in an on-the-job training at Southern FS, getting first-hand experiences that prepared her for her future.
“To graduate from RLC with an Ag degree, you have to do on-the-job training for two summers. Not only did I get to work in the summer, but I got paid for it, and received three credits for each summer toward my degree. I worked at the same place, Southern FS, for three summers,” said Brock.
But it didn’t stop there for this former Warrior. After graduating, Brock said Southern FS helped her land the job she has now as a Product Specialist at Precision Laboratories, the job she hopes to build upon throughout her career.
“In January before I graduated, I sent out résumés, and Southern FS worked with Precision Laboratories, so Southern FS sent my information and Precision contacted me about the position. Southern FS really helped me get my job. I had no experience in sales, but Precision went by my connections,” said Brock.
Other than her on-the-job training at RLC, Brock said the individualized education in the classroom helped her get a step ahead of others in her field.
“The Ag program is really great, especially being around all of the other Ag students and instructors,” she said. “It really is a top notch program and I loved everything about it. One of my instructors, Kathy Craig, and I still talk. The job I’m in now had a six-week interview process, and I would talk to her through the whole thing for advice and tips. She’s been really great.”
Brock then added the small class sizes and one-on-one teaching time she received at RLC were a bonus when compared to her time in a university.
“The smaller class sizes are very, very personal. I made several great relationships that I plan on keeping,” she said. “A lot of my friends were going straight on to SIU (Southern Illinois University) and I decided to save money and go to Rend Lake. The Ag Department is the best of the best in my book, and I consider choosing Rend Lake College over four years at SIU one of the best decisions I have made. Not many can say they graduated on a Saturday and started work that following Monday. RLC holds a very special place in my heart.”
Once graduated, Brock said the transition to SIU was a hard one, but thanks to her experiences at RLC, she was ready to dive in head first.
“I was terrified of going to SIU. On my first day, I remember I had a couple of general classes and an Ag class. I thought, ‘I don’t want to walk in here and be behind,’ so I was really nervous. When I got there, the instructor pulled out the book for the class and it was the exact same book that we had used in a class at RLC. All the weight of the world dropped off my shoulders and I felt so relieved,” she said.
Graduating in May of 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant and Soil Science, Brock said she hopes to be able to grow in her career and stay in the area at the same time.
“I’m very family-oriented. That was one of the main reasons I decided to go to Rend Lake and SIU. My goal is to make a life here in Southern Illinois. The reason I wanted the job was because it is in Southern Illinois and I can continue to grow here,” she said.
For more information about Rend Lake College, visit www.rlc.edu.