I've lived in Des Moines, IA for just over three years now, and I have recently decided to call myself an official "Iowa Transplant". As I began college at Drake University in the fall of 2010, I was skeptical about what Des Moines had to offer and was curious if there really was anything more to Iowa than cows and cornfields. Yet, as time passed, and I expanded my knowledge of the city, met leading professionals, and landed several internships along the way, I came to understand that Des Moines is much different than anyone's expectations. It is definitely more than just cows and cornfields, and is growing with new ideas every hour of every day.
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I've come to love the city atmosphere. During the summer, my friends and I would go to North Ave. beach, catch a cruise from Navy Pier, walk the "Magnificent Mile" and attend as many festivals as we could. Chicago has everything you could ever ask for: sports, restaurants, festivals, outdoor activities, etc. But, one thing I have come to realize about Chicago is that the space for innovation and growth is extremely limited. Not to say that new ideas cannot be successful in a place like Chicago or New York or Los Angeles, but with such an established core and so many other things in place, it is nearly impossible to become a powerhouse leader in the community.
However, I'm not trying to speak poorly of my hometown. Instead I wish to express my excitement about Des Moines, explain why I am strongly considering a career here after college and discuss why I believe it is a perfect place for new ideas and innovation, especially for young professionals.
Since the end of my sophomore year, I have been lucky to hold several internships in the greater Des Moines area. My time with Civic Music Association, Des Moines Buccaneers, and now Drake University Athletics, has provided me the opportunity to explore the city and really come to love all that happens in central Iowa. You never understand things until you experience them, in my opinion. That's precisely how it happened to me; how I came to actually love the city of Des Moines and why I am considering staying here to start my professional career. So many opportunities exist for collegiate interns, families, young and old professionals, tourists, and anyone who might find themselves "lost in the cornfields". One of the most eye-opening experiences occurred in the summer of 2012. Every summer, the Greater Des Moines Partnership hosts an intern series known as 'Do More in the City'. It is essentially a workshop series every two weeks for Des Moines area interns to meet one another, network, and meet leading executives in Des Moines. If you are going to learn, do everything you can to learn from the best. I am so grateful to every executive leader that took the time to speak to us interns to help our growth as young professionals. Yet, the bet opportunity came during a networking lunch with one of the top CEOs in Des Moines - Jay Byers.
Jay taught me one of the most important lessons that afternoon. I asked him, "why should I stay in Des Moines and not go back home to Chicago after graduation?". His response: "Be a leader, not a number". Those six words have stuck with me for the past year and a half. Now, after leading a bus tour for all first year business students at Drake and telling my story of how I came to love the city of Des Moines, I can officially say I have embraced the title of "Iowa Transplant". I never thought I would ever consider staying, but after spending four years here, it's definitely a top choice after graduation. Always be open to changing your mind. Always be open to new things. You may never know you like something until you give it a chance and try it.
Don't be one track minded. Try new things. Embrace life as a transplant and know that a change of possession doesn't last for the entire game.