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Illinois Experience: Tanner Heinen

Champaign native Tanner Heinen checked out some colleges in California and Colorado before he graduated from high school. Ultimately, he realized that his hometown university offered a world-class education and “there was no reason for me to look anywhere else.”

Tanner is a junior, majoring in Technical Systems Management with a minor in Earth, Society and the Environment.  And his favorite part of his college experience might just be his part-time work at the ARC and CRCE.

What activities have been part of your Illinois Experience?

I’ve been on the men’s water polo club team and Illini Swim Club. I started working in Campus Rec the summer before my freshman year. I’ve worked at Campus Rec for 2½ years, going from facility assistant to customer service assistant to facility manager.  Pretty much all I have time for this year is work and water polo.

How has your work at Campus Rec shaped you?

It just kind of started as a job, but it’s become a much bigger part of my life. I’ve learned how to communicate with people, and made a lot of new connections and new friends. I’ve learned about conflict management - like using deflection phrases – and that’s a good tool to have!

I’ve also had to think creatively to solve problems; I’m getting better at approaching problems in different ways. I work in facility management, but there’s aquatics, adventure rec, events and all these other different parts of Campus Rec, and they all take place in our buildings. So if they have a problem or need something, I try to find what they need or who can help them.

What’s been the most surprising part of your Illinois Experience? 

I really like all the people I’ve met; there’s people from so many backgrounds that I’ve met here (at Campus Rec) and in classes, but mostly here. People from all kinds of majors, all kinds of backgrounds, different countries, all over the university.  I really enjoy having those connections.

What advice would you offer an incoming freshman?

Be open-minded. Be willing to meet new people and learn about where they’re from and what they’re about. Because at the university there are so many different kinds of people who may change your perspective for the better.