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2020 Fellow Describes a Virtual DSM Fellowship Experience

2020 DSM Fellowship Program

December 9, 2020

When the pandemic started, I was a senior in college at the University of Iowa working a part time job at the Burge Dining Hall. Fast forward nine months and I have graduated college, started a full-time position and moved into a new home. You could say that graduating college and starting a new job is challenging in its own sense but doing all of this in the middle of a pandemic has added some new obstacles. I have had to learn my new position completely through phone calls and Skype messages, and at first it felt really overwhelming. But I am very lucky to be working for a company like Wellmark, where the on-boarding process was just as helpful as if it had been in-person. My team has been incredibly helpful as I learn my new position and I feel confident that I have correctly gained the skills I need to do my job.

Participation in the 2020 DSM Fellowship Program

Once I got settled at my new job, I was introduced to the Des Moines Fellowship Program — a program through the Greater Des Moines Partnership. For those that are not familiar, this program connects a group of about 30 young professionals working at a variety of companies in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Then we are connected with a company called Tero International to learn a variety of skills from communication with our coworkers to professionally presenting yourself through a virtual meeting. The DSM Fellowship Program has not only granted us the opportunity to network with other young professionals, but also the opportunity learn invaluable skills through Tero.

A Focus on Virtual

For a bit more insight into the DSM Fellowship Program, we will get together about once a month to join an educational session hosted by Tero, which is a “premier interpersonal skills research and corporate training company.” In September, our session was titled “Self-Knowledge and Self Awareness” and was centered around the Myers-Briggs assessment on personality types. This session helped us to gain successful insight on how we prefer to be communicated with and how we tend to communicate with others. Our November session was titled “Virtual Presence and Effective Meetings” and was all about this new era of virtual meetings and how that impacts our overall productiveness and effectiveness of our work lives that are now completely conducted online.

Up until starting my position at Wellmark I had not yet been a part of a workplace meeting that was completely virtual. I had taken some online classes, but these were not completely the same. I had never had training on how to successfully present myself and communicate through a virtual meeting. After completing the training through Tero on our virtual presence and how to conduct effective meetings, I have gained a higher level of confidence in virtual meetings. I now understand how the lighting and the background of your video impacts people’s impression of you. An individual’s clothing can impact how their coworkers trust and view them. This was something I had not thought of prior to the Tero session. I had not thought about how much people rely on the way people visually present themselves through virtual meetings. I was happy to learn about the structure of meetings and how we can organize our meetings to be the most successful and effective that they can be.

Being a part of the DSM Fellowship Program has allowed me to feel more connected to young professionals in DSM, as well as feel more a part of the community. They have given me the knowledge to feel more confident in my new position at Wellmark as a technology development associate.

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).

Lexie White

Lexie White is a Greater Des Moines (DSM) native and started her first job out of college at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield as a technology development associate.