Cathy Doederlein

Director of Career Services

Cathy Doederlein

What year did you start working at NIU?
2011 (But I also worked here in high school, undergrad and grad school.)

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown is Sycamore, Illinois, where I live now.

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
I attended NIU and earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in communication. I'm starting my Ed.D. in higher education administration in fall 2021.

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
As director of Career Services, I am fortunate to get to interact across all constituencies of NIU, as well as with corporate and nonprofit partners in the local community and beyond. This summer, I've been spending a lot of time working on getting ready for some exciting enhancements to our offerings in Career Services. I've also been working on expanding our reach with employer partners and hopefully effectively encouraging our partners to hire Huskies for internships and part-time and full-time jobs.

What do you like about working at NIU?
After completing my bachelor's and master's degrees, I had the opportunity to spend about 10 years in the corporate world, but I really missed being able to engage regularly with students. Thankfully, in my first job after my degree, I worked in a setting with a lot of NIU students as employees, which just further solidified for me that I love working with college students. When an opportunity arose to apply for a job at NIU that dealt with academic credit for internships in the humanities while expanding employer partnerships, it seemed like a "dream job" that would provide me the best of both worlds: getting back to working with students while remaining connected to the corporate world. And it really has been just that. First in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and now in Career Services, I absolutely love what I get to do, every day!

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Take advantage of all the additional opportunities available to you as a student. You get the chance to learn from world-class faculty, but then you can also participate in amazing student organizations and programs, and there are resource centers and services that can help you in reaching your goals. Meet with a career advisor early on in your time at NIU to map out a course for success, and plan to attend career events like our Internship and Job Fair or our Graduate and Professional School Fair so you can start connecting with employers and/or graduate programs.

What is your favorite campus event?
I have so many I love, but I'd say commencement is my favorite overall. I have actually participated in commencement for decades. First just helping my mom as she ran the ceremonies for her college, then as my first paid job as an usher (with a work permit when I was 13), then as a proud graduate (twice!) and now as a staff marshal through the last several years. Seeing the pride of our students and their family and friends as they cross that stage is such a delight!

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
The faculty and staff of NIU work together to provide the best teaching and care for our students. I see faculty taking time to engage with students outside of the classroom, bringing them into their research efforts, mentoring them toward their career goals and providing additional supports to them in succeeding in their courses. I see staff working tirelessly to provide support services and meet the day-to-day needs of students in terms of housing, dining, a clean living/learning environment, safe and fun activities to participate in and more. It truly runs the gamut and many staff go above and beyond to make students feel valued and cared for. I see my team spend their time putting together effective programming (and meeting one-on-one with students) to ensure they feel confident about their career choices and the steps they need to take in order to succeed.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
Having essentially grown up on this campus, I have favorite memories from each facet of my time at NIU. But I'd say one that stands out in my more recent professional years here was being able to speak (along with my colleague Holly Nicholson) to represent the voice of staff at the investiture of President Lisa Freeman. It was an honor to be able to speak on such a special day for the university!

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
When I came to NIU, it was my intent to be pre-med with the goal of eventually becoming an orthopedic surgeon. I was going to fix my own orthopedic issues. But I am horrible at math and science! It was actually in taking a gen ed course from my dad that I realized the field of communication was of great interest. Though a part of me thinks I'd have a lot of useful qualities as a doctor, I'm glad I chose such a versatile field that has served me well in my career.

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
Earlier this year, I joined Gather, a group of women business professionals under the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce as an umbrella organization. I was asked by a colleague to serve on a panel for this group and realized it would be a great thing to become more involved in overall. It's been a good chance to network with business leaders in the community and build my personal and professional network.

What community organizations are you involved in?
I have not had the chance to donate as much of my time volunteering as I might like, but I am an active supporter of several community organizations. Safe Passage and Tails Humane Society are two local organizations very near and dear to my heart!

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love to cook—and to eat. It's always great to spend time with friends and family. And I love time with my animals. My dog, Bella, and my cats, Wilma and Pacey, are great for helping me to relax and recharge!

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
As I often say, I've essentially been at NIU since birth. My parents started at NIU in 1969 and made a great impact on the campus community. With my dad's 40 years of service, my mom's 45 years of service and my now 10 years of service, we have a combined 95 years of service to NIU. There's always been at least one Doederlein here for the past 52 years now!

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