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A DSM Fellowship Program Fellow Applauds Opportunities in DSM

Sarah Schalm DSM Fellowship

May 9, 2019

Des Moines, Iowa: honestly, a place I never thought I would end up in. Between spending my middle school and high school years in Minnesota and earning my degree at University of Nebraska, Iowa was the last place I thought I would go. Growing up, there was a misconception about Iowa (mostly stemming from football rivalries), and so when I decided to move here it came not only as a shock to myself but others around me. However, I have come to really enjoy this place I now call home and the opportunities it has given to me.

Starting Out in DSM USA

Like myself, many of the fellows in the DSM Fellowship Program came to Iowa for job opportunities after college. A few weeks after I graduated, I packed my bags and moved to an apartment near Downtown Des Moines (DSM). I was excited to explore a new place, and I thought living downtown and being within walking-distance of festivals, shopping and restaurants was the way to go. I commuted to work daily in Johnston, which allowed me to see other areas of Des Moines and the surrounding suburbs. I settled in, started making friends at work and slowly began enjoying town. As a young recently-graduated professional, this city was a wonderful place to get my start. It is easy to get involved with various activities and organizations.

Des Moines has a unique opportunity to position itself as one of the top metropolitan areas to live in the United States. This city, located in the heart of Iowa and the heart of the country, is growing at a rate faster than any city in the Midwest. It continues to attract families and young people such as myself. One of things I find most fascinating about the area is how many people choose to come back to the state of Iowa. At one point or another, they have decided to make Des Moines their forever home. That says a lot about this state and this city, and we should be proud of that.

Networking in Iowa’s Capital City

For me, I not only get the benefit of living in a wonderful and growing city, but through the DSM Fellowship Program I get a bonus: a chance to network and learn. This program has provided me a range of skill-sets and connections that otherwise I do not think I would get this early in my career. Personally, the opportunities to meet and learn from others has been the highlight of the program. One of my favorites parts of the program has been going to the various business tours. There, we get to see how other businesses function, how they impact the community and meet and chat with leadership and other employees. The information I have learned at those other businesses has made me think deeper about the impact I can bring to my own organization and how we can be better. For example, I was very interested to learn about the employee recognition and onboarding programs at Farm Bureau Financial Services Inc., which made me think deeper about how I can improve our onboarding experiences within my own department. Those conversations are priceless when it comes to development and bettering myself and my organization.

Living in Des Moines and getting the chance to be a part of the DSM Fellowship Program has really broadened my own perspectives. I have already learned so much from the program, both formally and informally, and have developed what I believe will be life-long relationships with others around me. So a special shout-out to the DSM Partnership, my organization, this program and this city for being way more awesome than I ever thought it would be.

Learn more about talent development resources in Des Moines.

The DSM Fellowship Program is the preeminent professional development initiative attracting, developing and retaining a diverse community of top-tier graduates to Greater Des Moines (DSM).