#CareerTalk with Kevin Beck, Director of Scheduling for the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois

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In Braven’s new exciting blog series, we’ll cover people’s inspiring stories, explore their career paths, and share advice they have for Braven Fellows.

Our second guest on #CareerTalk is Kevin Beck, Director of Scheduling for the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. Born and raised in Chicago, Kevin started working at the age of 15 in a variety of different jobs before going on to obtain his B.S. in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism. But landing a job straight out of college was no easy feat⁠—Kevin experienced what many post-grads go through: denial. Yet his determination and strong work ethic helped him push forward, earning him the opportunity to work for the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. Read about his career journey, an average day in his work life, and his advice to current college students.

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago with my three siblings: an older brother and two younger sisters. I went to Simeon Career Academy where I graduated in the top 5 of my class and majored in Accountancy. After graduating high school, I traveled to Champaign-Urbana where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Sport and Tourism with a concentration in Sport. I minored in Business and Pre-Law at UIUC. 

I enjoy all sports but I have a strong passion for basketball. Family is very important to me. My younger sister, Katrina, is an Assistant Coach for Illinois Wesleyan University Women’s Basketball team and my baby sister, Breanna, is currently in her sophomore year at Wabash Valley Junior College where she plays basketball. I spend quite a lot of my free time watching my sisters and their teams compete on the court. Other hobbies I have are photography and mentoring. I enjoy showing younger individuals what is possible and what they can become.

 

Take us through your career path. What led you to your current career?

I have been working since I was 15 years old, so I have gotten to do a little bit of everything. Throughout high school, I worked at a variety of different jobs and internships ranging from building playgrounds with Playground Pilots to doing administrative work at Accounting and Architecture firms. 

Throughout college, I worked with Campus Intramurals refereeing volleyball, basketball, and flag football. I also worked for Campus Recreation as a Customer Service Representative. Once my college career wrapped up, I started an internship with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in Chicago for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. When my internship was over, I struggled to find a job and worked a few odd jobs here and there. 

I worked with the YMCA as a Unit Leader for summer camp and with other youth development programs at the YMCA and After School Matters. I also worked at a seasonal restaurant where I was able to work my way up from cashier and server to general manager. By networking and connecting with patrons of the restaurant, I was able to demonstrate my strong work ethic, leading me to a job as the District Manager for the State Representative of the 5th District of Illinois, Juliana Stratton. This opportunity led me to work for Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton as her Director of Scheduling. 

I attribute my current career to my strong work ethic and the power of networking. Having strong transferable skills and a positive attitude played a huge role in my professional growth. Faith has also played a major role as I never give up⁠—even through my tough times. Making strong connections with others while showing my skills and work ethic has led me to where I am today. 

 

Walk us through the average day as Director of Scheduling for the Lieutenant Governor.

The average day as Director of Scheduling for the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois truly varies day by day. The majority of my day consists of collaborating with people both internally and externally. My job is to make sure that the Lieutenant Governor knows what her day, week, and month looks like and to make sure she is where she needs to be. 

A typical day would look a lot like this:

  • Arrive at the office at approximately 8:30AM to make sure the Lieutenant Governor has all the material she needs for the day. Once I make sure everything is handled for today, I work on getting everything she needs for the next day and the rest of the week. 
  • I collaborate with the other teams in our office to check on the status of the material I need from them to make the rest of the week run smoothly. 
  • I attend approximately three to five scheduling and team meetings throughout the day. I also spend quite a lot of time following up with external parties regarding meeting and event requests. 
  • Occasionally, I have to leave the office to sometimes staff or advance events that the Lieutenant Governor will be attending. 
  • Throughout the day, I am constantly communicating via email and phone with constituents, the Lieutenant Governor and her detail team, other individuals on my team, as well as quite a few other external stakeholders. My day is normally filled with working very closely with others all day. 
  • As I oversee quite a few interns, I also take some time with them to share some of the duties and tasks that they will need to complete. Scheduling is a job that is nonstop

Listed above is what a typical day looks like but as I approach a year in this role, I realize that every day is different and I must be able to adapt since I never know what the day might bring. 

 

Tell us about a failure you’ve had in your career. What did you learn from it and how did you bounce back?

Failure to me is a very negative word and although I may make a few mistakes here and there, I do not see them as failures. These “failures” are key lessons in my successes and continue to teach me how to push through barriers and overcome obstacles. 

My biggest failure came before my career⁠—it was the feeling of defeat after being denied time after time for various jobs that I was qualified for. I thought I had prepared myself with a variety of skills and experiences to graduate and go straight into the workforce. The disappointment of working so hard but not seeing the results was a huge failure for me. Instead of letting those denials discourage me, though, I used them as motivation to push forward and continued to put myself out there. 

What I learned from this failure is that you cannot hang your head on denials and mistakes. Instead, you must continue to push forward and learn from them. You cannot be afraid to ask questions or to ask others for help. If you fall down, dust off the dirt because it will only make you stronger and better prepared for next time. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.   

 

Which people have had the most influence on your growth and why? What is valuable advice they gave you? 

There are quite a few people who have influenced my growth. My family is a huge reason I am who I am today. My mother definitely has influenced my growth as she has instilled in me to be the best version of myself day in and day out and to never stop going after my dreams. She taught me to give my best effort at everything I do. A lot of other people who’ve influenced my growth have taught me the power of networking and how connecting with others can lead you to wherever you want to go

My mother also taught me that persistence is key. You should never give up, even through tough times, and you must rely on your faith to get you through those times. Some of the most valuable advice I was given is to cultivate relationships and to never stop learning. You must believe in yourself, be confident in your skills and remember the importance of always being professional. Set goals for yourself in your personal and professional life and hold yourself accountable. Be around people who push you to be better.

 

What advice do you have for current Braven Fellows nearing the end of their undergraduate programs?

Some advice that I would give to current Braven Fellows nearing the end of their undergraduate program is to give their all to whatever they do. Don’t be defeated because you get denied⁠—you have to continue to push. Use every internship and job to continuously grow your transferable skills.

Even if it takes you longer to get to a destination, that doesn’t take away from your success. Never be afraid to ask questions and if you don’t know, don’t act like you do ⁠— figure out ways to find out the things you may not know. You are your worst critic and biggest enemy. No one can hold you back but you. You can do anything you want to do!

 

Like this feature on the Braven blog? There’s more where that came from! Check out our first #CareerTalk article with Braven’s CTO.

 

Learn more about Kevin Beck