Rebecca Goben, a business administrative associate manager in the College of Business dean's office, had lots of business experience prior to being hired at the U. of I. in 2008.
It was light on theory and heavy on elbow grease, but her experience at some of Champaign-Urbana's better-known businesses has helped instill an above-and-beyond work ethic that she still employs today.
"My background is all over the place," she said. "But it's given me lots of different types of experience and made me more well-rounded."
It started back in high school for the lifetime resident, with a job at Jarling's Custard Cup in Champaign.
She said the frozen treats store was a place where, despite the young age of its employees, on-the-job perseverance wasn't an option but an expectation.
"It was a great place to learn what it takes to go the extra mile, and about work ethic and serving the customer," she said. "You couldn't just call in sick if you didn't feel like coming in to work. You learned to get the job done, no matter what."
She said that lesson has made a difference in her approach to every job since.
"I think if you went back and saw where some of those kids are today, you'd see a lot of successful people," she said.
In the 10 years after earning a psychology degree from the U. of I., Goben worked at a string of jobs at premiere local companies, first as a deposit acquisitions manager at a bank, then as a claims supervisor at a health insurance company, and finally, in sales for two local media companies.
"I like to work at the very best places," she said. "I've always been around a great team."
In 2001, she joined a national chain entertainment-themed restaurant as an event sales manager, a job she loved. When the restaurant closed its local doors in 2008, Goben turned to the U. of I.
She was hired as an assistant director for recruitment for the College of Business's top-ranked business career services center, where she managed various recruiting programs and networking events, including the fall and spring business career fairs.
She said that job was more about engaging with employers to maximize their recruiting efforts, meaning she didn't have as much contact with faculty and staff members as her current position.
But she said the office team during her tenure there was "very patient, giving and knowledgeable" as she learned to navigate the online recruitment-management system and became acclimated to academia.
"I really enjoyed working alongside my BCS family - and now I feel like I've been adopted by a new family," she said.
In 2011, she moved to the dean's office in the College of Business as a business administrative associate, changing from academic professional to civil service classification. A year ago she was promoted to business administrative associate manager.
"I've found a really good place here - a safe haven," she said. "I admit I was a bit intimidated at first, but it's a very supportive network here and a place I can call home. I'm never afraid to ask a question, because that's what is encouraged here. Everyone is willing to share their time and knowledge at any time."
She also likes the fact that the office is fairly quiet, which helps her better concentrate on the varied processes involved with the college's new hires and appointments.
She also is responsible for coordinating various events, including the dean's Reading Day brunch, the annual holiday party, and faculty meetings and elections.
Goben said she likes the varied work responsibilities of the job, which has her frequently working with other campus offices, including the Office of the Provost.
"There are lots of different tasks that need to be done, and I'm the extra hand that can help move things forward," she said. "It's a great office to work in, because everyone is so focused on their work and advancing the mission of the college."
One of her favorites tasks is helping plan the annual staff appreciation luncheon, where she was named an outstanding employee in 2013, and the spring awards reception that honors outstanding service.
"It's energizing to be able to recognize the people in your college who have exceptional accomplishments," she said.
Goben's main hobby is spending as much time as possible with her 9-year-old daughter, Alexandria, which includes being the Girl Scout Cookies coordinator for the last five years, and being in charge of the box tops fundraising collection effort at school.
"I'm a juggler," she said of her life. "I don't sleep much, and it seems like there's never a lot of free time.