Leadership Iowa University shows benefits of sticking around

November 11, 2016 | Doing Business in Iowa: How Iowa Ranks Emily Schettler, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, eschettler@iowaabi.org

Retaining Iowa’s college graduates is vital to the future of Iowa’s workforce. The challenges of Iowa’s “brain drain” are evident in the state’s workforce rankings.

When it comes to workforce quality, CEO Executive Magazine ranks Iowa sixth. At the same time, CNBC ranks Iowa 44th for workforce. The second source takes into account the ability to retain college-educated workers.

Since it began a decade ago, Leadership Iowa University has helped dozens of Iowa college students recognize the opportunities available to them within the state.

In addition to helping LIU students identify their strengths and grow as leaders, one primary goal of the organization is to help persuade students to stay in Iowa after they graduate.

“LIU opens students’ eyes to the many opportunities in the state of Iowa, in our businesses, universities and organizations where they can immediately get involved and make an impact,” said Michele Waber, a senior brand identity manager at DuPont Pioneer who is actively involved in LIU.

LIU students visit businesses throughout the state, where they get to see firsthand the workplaces they could join after college. They meet business leaders in a variety of industries and are paired with a mentor who already works in the field the student is interested in.

In 2011, Waber served as a mentor for Loras College student Easton Kuboushek. She introduced him to members of the Pioneer communications team, one of whom encouraged Kuboushek to apply for an internship at the company. Kuboushek submitted his resume, interviewed for the position and was selected. He worked as a public affairs intern at Pioneer during the summer of 2012.

When it came time to look for a job, Kuboushek reflected on his LIU experience again. He had visited the Iowa Soybean Association as part of the program, and the non- profit organization had an opening that interested him. He applied and got the job.

Now Kuboushek and Waber are both helping college students recognize the opportunities available to them through their ongoing volunteer leadership on the LIU board of directors.

Together the ABI Foundation and our LIU partners throughout the state are helping to curb Iowa’s brain drain.