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Why Iowa? Q&A with Ting Tommee

Why Iowa? Q&A with Ting Tommee

Ting Tommee not only found the right fit for her college education in Iowa, but she also found the resources and opportunities to smoothly transition into her professional career.

Ting is a market intelligence and data analyst at Kemin Industries, where she started as an intern during her final year at Drake University, then joined full time after earning her undergraduate degree in 2018.

A native of Zimbabwe, she was attracted to Drake for its size, variety of majors and educational opportunities, and the resources available to support international students. She earned a degree in marketing and information systems and found that many additional resources, including mentor programs, internships and networking connections also made the process of preparing for the workforce and finding job opportunities much easier.

1. Why did you stay in Iowa after graduating from college?

I stayed for both the job opportunity and the people and lifestyle I have found in Iowa.

At Drake, we were encouraged to get involved in programs that exposed us to the business and professional world, including mentoring programs with companies like Nationwide and Principal Financial Group. They were a great way to take the first step from college to the business world in a structured way. My internship at Kemin Industries, being exposed to the opportunities at the growing company, and the people I worked with drove me to stay in Iowa.

I really appreciate the feel of Iowa and Des Moines. There is always something going on, but it is still very easy to get from one place to another. I love the accessibility of everything while still being in a growing city.

2. What interested you about working at Kemin Industries?
I’ve had two roles at Kemin. First, I was in a marketing communications role in which I managed events and marketing projects on a global basis for Kemin Nutrisurance, and the pet food and rendering technologies business unit. Last year, I moved into a market intelligence and data analysis role supporting all of the company’s business units.

A career at Kemin is exciting because Kemin is truly a global company. At Kemin, we use applied science to make more than 500 specialty ingredients that are used in human and animal health and nutrition, pet food, aquaculture, nutraceutical, food technologies, crop technologies, textile, biofuel and animal vaccine industries. It is fascinating to think about the impact the products we make can have on individuals and businesses around the world. In fact, the company’s vision is to sustainably transform the quality of life every day for 80 percent of the world with our products and services.

I’ve found that Kemin cares about its employees and invests a great deal in professional development and making sure that our work is aligned with not only the company’s goals, but also our own career goals.

3. What opportunities are there for young professionals in Des Moines and central Iowa?
For someone freshly stepping out of college and into the “real world,” Iowa has a lot of opportunities for career development at a variety of growing companies. I also appreciate the cost of living in Iowa compared to many of the cities I’ve traveled to.

There are also lots of opportunities to get involved in the community. I’m most involved in the Des Moines Global Shapers Hub, which brings together young leaders from across the metro to work through some of the region’s most pressing issues, including the urban-rural divide, social justice, and climate change. We collaborate with community partners to make a local impact on these global issues and connect with cities around the world. Born out of the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers community is a network of inspiring young people under the age of 30 working together to address local, regional, and global challenges. With more than 14,000 members, the Global Shapers community spans 456 city-based hubs in 150 countries

4. What advice would you give someone considering a move to Iowa?
First, be a go-getter and explore! With so many growing companies and organizations in Iowa, there are lots of opportunities to interact with people who are like-minded or in a similar profession. Be proactive and reach out for those opportunities. Everyone I’ve reached out to has always wanted to help or been able to provide a resource or contact who can. Don’t be shy!

As someone who grew up in a tropical climate and spent my first Iowa winter wondering when it would end, I’ve really grown to appreciate the changes in seasons we have here. Fall is my favorite season and I enjoy watching the transition to each season and experiencing the differences of each.

5. Please give us three recommendations of places to go or things to do in Iowa.
I’ll start with food. Des Moines is particularly blessed with a number of authentic Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. A few of my favorites include Eat Thai, Thai Eatery, Thai Flavors, Pho 515 and Pho 888. I believe that a bowl of Pho can solve almost every problem, so I appreciate having so many great options so close.

I enjoy all the walking trails, lakes, and outdoor places to explore. I have a golden retriever who loves being outside, so we are always looking for new places to explore. Some of our favorites are Lake Red Rock, Saylorville Lake, the Greenbelt Trail in Clive and Center Trails surrounding the Des Moines Art Center. It is incredible to be in the middle of the city, but still have so many outdoor spaces to explore.

Finally, I love the farmers markets and festivals that are always happening. My favorite festivals are the World Food & Music Festival each September and the CelebrAsian festival in May. The biggest farmers market happens in Downtown Des Moines, but there are a number of markets across the area, including in historic Valley Junction.