Leadership Iowa University Partners with Companies to Keep Top Talent

December 8, 2017 | Working together: Companies, Iowa schools mutually benefit from partnerships Jessi Steward, Marketing and Programs Coordinator, ABI Foundation, jsteward@iowaabi.org

Millennials. Generation Z. The two heavy-hitting generations that seem to leave many employers seeking change or scratching their heads. While millennials have already infiltrated the workforce, the fast-paced Generation Z is not far to follow. While both groups might be slightly tardy to their seat (if you read into the stereotypes), they certainly bring a lot to the table, and they’re eager to do so.

At a time when internships and work-based learning are not only encouraged but required of today’s Gen Z college students, and when such opportunities are now becoming prevalent in early high school years, how do companies provide quality work-based learning opportunities for these forward-thinking college graduates? How do we also make sure this talent stays in Iowa after graduation?

The ABI Foundation has been asking these same questions for years and is teaming up with Iowa companies to help offer a solution with Leadership Iowa University (LIU). The program partners with a variety of companies each year to provide a capstone experience for college interns. The students learn their on-the-job knowledge during their internship, then end their summer building on their professional skills and exploring what else Iowa has to offer as LIU participants.

Farm Bureau Financial Services in West Des Moines sent one of its summer interns to the weeklong program for the first time this year.

"We have a strong internship program and felt that Leadership Iowa University would be a great addition to the overall experience. We wanted to not only reward the great work they did for us this year, but also show our interns that we’re a company who is willing to invest in their future and their growth as young professionals,” said Sara Deich, human resources program coordinator at Farm Bureau Financial Services.

“After her week, our intern who participated expressed her gratitude for the opportunity. She said that she had a great time meeting new people, and the program really opened her eyes to her future in Iowa. We hope to continue to offer this opportunity to our interns in the future,” said Deitch.

The program also gives students a firsthand look at some of the top industries that make Iowa stand out among other states. Local companies and representatives open their doors and donate their time to show these students what they have to offer, providing a great example of what they can find in Iowa.

For example, the LIU students have the opportunity to visit Nationwide Insurance in Des Moines and sit down with some of its leaders to gain insight into the working world.

“Nationwide gets a chance to showcase what makes us such a great place to work. We work with our Associate Resource Groups and leaders to give the students a full idea of what being a Nationwider truly feels like,” said Ida Wood, a business development senior consultant at Nationwide who assists with coordinating the visit.

"It's important for college students to have opportunities to understand the culture and feel of a company, and also to learn internal processes, network and fully understand what a day in the position and industry looks like. Work-based opportunities for college students are crucial for any industry. We have to keep the best and the brightest in the great state of Iowa,” said Wood.

Musco Lighting in Oskaloosa is also a longtime partner of Leadership Iowa University and often hosts the group at its facility. For Musco, the benefits of being involved are twofold.

“We love the opportunity to show students the career opportunities available in small-town Iowa. Many students don’t realize that there are global opportunities right in their backyard at companies like Musco,” said Shelly Herr, HR director at Musco Lighting. “This is also a great chance to meet the cream of the crop students who get involved in this type of program. They’re delivered right to our door, and we’ve even seen some turn into Musco interns and employees.”

Other companies that have supported interns though the program include top sponsor Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co., as well as Miles Capital, Agri-Industrial Plastics and more. This list of companies that want to find a unique way to invest in their future employees continues to grow each year.

To learn how your company can be represented at Leadership Iowa University and how you can provide this opportunity to your interns, contact us at info@leadershipiowauniversity.com.