Seize the City with Nationwide

Nationwide Panel

(L to R) Mary Bontrager, Lauren Burt, Annette Adams, Nick Andersen and Danny Beyer.

By Tia Snyder, Sales and Communications Intern, tsnyder@cultivationcorridor.org 

The Greater Des Moines Partnership (GDMP) hosted their second “Seize the City event, sponsored by Nationwide on Wednesday 

Almost 100 Des Moines area interns gathered in the heart of downtown at Nationwide. We enjoyed a quick peek of their building while walking to their expansive cafeteria, Clock Tower Café, where they held the event 

Along with forming and expanding relationships with people in our age group, the event offered a panel of prominent professionals for interns to utilize for insight and advice.   

Mary Bontrager, executive VP of talent development at GDMP, led the panel and asked the leaders to recall a valuable business etiquette learning moment. 

Danny Beyer, lead advisor of retirement plan management at Iron Horse Wealth Management, allowed us to learn through his mistakes. 

Beyer said to never attempt to network while holding a drink and plate of food. A woman in a white shirt tried to shake his hand and as he fumbled to respond, he spilled his meatballs on her shirt. Needless to say, they both left the event early. 

He also said he used to doubt his abilities and was intimidated to approach professionals which I know my friends and I occasionally struggle with that mindset. 

Beyer said, “I was afraid I couldn’t provide value for them, and why would they want to meet me?” He then realized that experienced professionals typically want to help driven people succeedBeyer suggested that we email people no matter their title because “the worst thing they can do is not respond” which in the big picture, isn’t that bad.  

The panel members shared great pieces of advice throughout the event, but the following stuck out to me, and I feel are applicable to almost all interns.  

“…every day is an interview” said Nick Andersen, VP of commercial lines and farm services at Nationwideand he cautioned to always act professional.  

Additionally, Lauren Burt, worldwide communications manager for Kemin Industries, said to treat everyone with respect regardless of their title.  

Annette Adams, senior human resources consultant at Nationwide said no one wants to hire or employ an emotional liability so don’t gossip 

Bontrager then dived into tips on how we can network through social media while maintaining a professional approach. 

Burt said to the crowd that their social media is their brand and “when in doubt [whether to post], don’t.” I believe many interns switched their accounts to private or finely picked their posts after hearing this discussion.  

Later, Bontrager opened the panel up for questions. Topics that interns introduced included resumes, how to effectively network, necessity of a thank you note via card or email and many other informative subjects.  

Prior to the panel discussion, I spoke with young women who have diverse backgrounds: a legal clerk intern at American Enterprise Group, a public policy intern at GDMP and an accounting intern at Principal.  

The experience was highly unique and allowed interns to build relationships outside of their industry in Des Moines‘ thriving scene.  

Mark your calendars for the next event June 26 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the ISU Economic Development Core Facility. Cultivation Corridor is sponsoring it in collaboration with Ames Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, ISU Research Park and the Greater Des Moines Partnership.  

The Ames Chamber program, “See Yourself in Ames, is inviting “Seize the City” participants to Ames, a city with the lowest unemployment rate in the country. They also have the chance to showcase themselves as the No. 1 college town for recent graduates.  

This event is a stellar collaboration that gives Ames and Des Moines area interns the opportunity to connect during a grill-out and live music. Motivational speaker, Adam Carroll, will also discuss how to build a bigger life. Register here if you’re an Ames or Des Moines area intern!