Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Life in Northwest Iowa..

Good morning! Today I thought I would share a little about my new life after college with you all. I haven't been able to really explain why I moved to Okoboji, IA because I've been crazy busy with work ever since I graduated college this May.

OEI Welcome Reception on Sunday night
Outside the house of Tom Bedell - the host of Sunday night's Welcome Reception
The University of Iowa OEI students and staff members (and me!) 
Governor Terry Branstad stopped by to talk to the students about entrepreneurship in Iowa. He graciously took a picture with the OEI staff and myself.
The Young Professionals group of NW Iowa joined us on Thursday night for a yacht excursion on the lake.
A view of the ferris wheel from the docks at Arnold's Park Amusement Park
A picture of this year's OEI students with Toby Shine, president of Shine Bros Corporation and Norm Waitt, Co-founder of Gateway Computers. 

To begin this story, I really have to move backwards about 40 years! Ever since I was a little girl, my parents have been bringing me and my sister to Okoboji to vacation. My great-grandparents, Gus and Eileen Glaser, had a lake house on West Lake Okoboji, and my dad and all his brothers and sister would swim, eat ice cream and enjoy the lake at their house in the summer months. Fast forward to when my sister and I were young girls, and soon we too were learning how to swim, ride bikes and even learning how to mix a good drink in my great-grandparent's house. When great-grandpa Gus passed away when I was 5, my great-grandma Eileen asked my mom and us girls to stay with her in the summers to help with household chores and also to keep her company at the lakes. My dad would drive back and forth on the weekends because of work, but my family was blessed to be able to vacation in such a beautiful place surrounded by family. Eventually, my parents decided to get a place of their own on the lake and my great-grandma passed on, however I will never forget all of the memories with her and the rest of my family in that house. I continued to summer at the lakes, working as a waitress at the local Italian restaurant and babysitting on the side. During college it was harder to come to the lakes because of internships, but I had the opportunity to come back for an amazing networking workshop my senior year - the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute. 


The Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute - we call it OEI - is a week long program for some of the top entrepreneurial college students in the state of Iowa. 32 students are selected to come to Okoboji and network with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country while also competing for cash prizes through a business simulation. These students receive college credit for the week, but it's also a way for students to experience Okoboji in the hopes that they decide to start their own business in the area. I had an amazing time at OEI last year as a college student, and I kept in contact with the Iowa Lakes Corridor (the organization who coordinates the week) after OEI was over. Last winter, the Corridor was seeking a new Communications and Events Coordinator, and I was fortunate enough to be interviewed and offered the job in early April. Never did I think I would be moving to Okoboji so soon after college, however I feel so fortunate to be living in a place that holds so much history for my family. My job allows me to keep in contact with the people I met last year at OEI, and working in economic development keeps my job interesting and worthwhile. 

Last week we held the 9th annual OEI, and it was so fun seeing all the the planning and coordinating come to life. Seeing so many students' lives be positively impacted by OEI was amazing - it's honestly hard to put into words. Not only is this event a networking experience for the students, but many of these students create lasting relationships with the people they meet here and also find personal mentors and confidants. Although it was a long week full of long parties and intense days (we joke that this week is like planning 6 large weddings for 5 days!), I can say the week motivated me to keep pursuing my passions!  

Enjoy the pictures above from last week. All pictures are courtesy of f8 Creative. Thanks for reading :)

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