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Creating Opportunities for College Students + Graduates

Talent Webinar

With the Iowa Business Council pledging 30,000 internships, partnerships and externships by 2025, the state’s Future Ready Iowa initiative seeking 70% of working-age adults having a postsecondary credential by 2025 and the Future Ready DSM initiative pledging to have 75% of working-age adults credentialed by 2025, organizations across the region are committed to the cultivation of talent in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

In the first webinar in a new Future Ready DSM webinar series from the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the following panelists discussed internships and programming that are creating opportunities for college students and young professionals:

  • Sidney Pezley, Greater Des Moines Partnership
  • Tyler Koehler, Principal Financial Group
  • Vivian Lovanrack, Bankers Trust
  • Stacey Cale, Merchants Bonding Co.

Value of Internships + Student Programming

Cale said that the goal of providing internships and programming for students and new graduates is to bring more diversity into the organizations and create a pipeline of candidates. The benefits include interns from around the globe, the inclusion of diverse cultural backgrounds and the opportunity for more hires. Koehler agreed that diversity is top of mind for Principal and highlighted how there are more opportunities available to interns now with remote and virtual work. Lovanrack said internships are a great recruiting pipeline for both part-time and full-time positions. Interns bring a fresh perspective and lead to the organization considering how to reframe things. Pezley said the DSM Intern Connection serves to connect interns to each other and provide professional development and networking opportunities, building excitement and engagement among the interns while they’re working.

Successes + Highlights

Cale said Merchants Bonding Co. tries to add diversity to not just the company, but the surety industry as a whole. This is why they now offer a scholarship program that awards a $5,000 scholarship for students. Koehler said of those that have converted to a full-time position at Principal, many are retained upon becoming employed with the company. Lovanrack cites a now-employee who started within their internship program and is now helping their company grow. Pezley said seeing students succeed beyond their internship and becoming involved within the community is exciting.

Intern Characteristics + Qualifications

Lovanrack said Bankers Trust looks for interns who are open-minded to activities to join and pathways within finance. Koehler said interns should think about how to stand out from other students when applying. It’s important to determine how you stand out, whether that’s through your GPA or your involvement on campus and experiences that can translate to the company. Cale recommended going beyond grades and the degree. Interns should also think about the abundance of companies they can choose from and find the organization with the culture that fits with them the best. Pezley said students should have a vision of not just their career, but also what their values are and what kind of company they want to work for.

Other topics discussed include challenges with internship programs, networking opportunities, professional development opportunities for 2022, recommendations to other employers looking to start or revamp an internship program and more.

Watch the entire webinar below:


Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.