Career Question Dropbox: Taking risks


Here’s the latest question from the ISU Alumni Association’s new Career Question Dropbox. To get YOUR career question answered, simply submit it online.


THE QUESTION, asked by a 2013 graduate of the College of Engineering: What risks do you wish you had taken when you first started your career?

The ISU Alumni Association’s own Julie Larson ’84, who recently retired after 34 years at the Alumni Association, had this to say:

“I’ve thought and thought, and I can’t think of a risk that I wish I would have taken. I took the risk of coming from Iowa City to Ames — where I really didn’t know anyone — to work for the YMCA. After working two years at the YMCA, I took the risk to go back to school full-time to get my master’s degree. After I started at the ISUAA, I was married, had a family and loved my job. I was very satisfied in my career. I don’t regret not pursuing more education or career advancement.”

Mike Todd ’03 ’05, who majored in engineering at ISU and now works as a science teacher, also feels like he’s taken a lot of risks:

“I’m a fairly high-level risk taker when it comes to my career, as I’m always trying things out. So I would recommend that to anyone (and I do to all my students). Try things you don’t think you’ll like and you will surprise yourself. Take on challenges that you are worried about being successful at. Don’t worry about your image in the short term; you’ll learn a lot from the experience and have more skills in the long run.”

We also asked construction engineering alum Dave Rahe ’06, who offered this great piece of advice:

“I wish I would have sought a mentor outside of my profession when I started my career. I have recently been blessed with mentors outside of the construction industry and the different perspectives they bring to our conversations has been enlightening for me.”

Great topic; thanks for asking! Do you have a career question you’d like to ask us? If so, submit it here!

Career Question Dropbox: Email Overload


Hooray! It’s time to answer our first-ever question from the ISU Alumni Association’s new Career Question Dropbox. To get YOUR career question answered, simply submit it online.


THE QUESTION: What is the best way to manage an overload of emails?

While there are certainly a variety of methods for managing your inbox, one of the most popular approaches has been coined ‘Inbox Zero.’ Even within this approach there are different recommendations on actually achieving Inbox Zero. Michael McWatters, Director of Experience Design at TED, prefers “a manual approach: read, reply, take action, archive, unsubscribe.” Other experts swear by a set of specific tips.

A few of the most common ones are:

1. Schedule time specifically for responding to emails. Maybe it’s a half hour, maybe it’s an hour. Perhaps you need to schedule time in the morning and again after lunch. Determine the amount of time you need and when it works best in your schedule, then add it to your calendar!

2. React right away. If the email requires action and you can complete that action right now, do it! Chances are you’ll spend more time flagging that email for later or moving it to a ‘to-do’ folder than you would simply completing the task.

3. Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, Do. Delete spam, junk mail, anything you don’t need to do anything else with. If someone else should take action on the item, delegate it by forwarding it on to them. Respond right away if you can. And if you’re waiting on a reply or more information before you can respond, defer the message – but make sure you know when you’ll readdress it. As for Do, see tip #2!

Additional Resources:
4 Tips to Better Manage Your Email Inbox (By: Jacqueline Whitmore)
Improve Your Productivity With Inbox Zero (By: Aytekin Tank)


Until next time…keep those inboxes spick and span! And keep sending your questions to the ISUAA Career Question Dropbox!


Career Opportunities with our business partners

Two career-level business members of the ISU Alumni Association have recently announced career opportunities for which they want to hire Iowa Staters. Check out the descriptions below and share with your #IowaState network!

If you would like the opportunity to recruit Iowa Staters as a career-level business member, contact Angela Tharp at or (515) 294-9603.

And for information about ISUAA career resources, visit today.


Berkley Agribusiness Risk Specialists (BARS) has an employment opportunity for an experienced Risk Control Specialist to service the state of Iowa. BARS services customers nationwide in regional grain storage and marketing, grower-packer-shippers, and food and beverage distribution, among others.

This position will be responsible for providing on-site risk control surveys at both prospective and existing policyholder locations for the purposes of gathering underwriting information and providing suggestions for risk improvement. Will also contribute to BARS development of safety materials and programs. Must actively participate in agribusiness organizations of which our insureds are members.

Risk Control Specialist
Date Opened: 4/22/2016
Location: Iowa
City: Open


Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in related field and 5 years loss control experience in property & casualty insurance strongly preferred
  • Strong working knowledge of commercial agribusiness is helpful
  • Solid knowledge of safety regulations, standards and techniques for loss prevention
  • Professional designations, such as CSP, ALCM, ARM or CPCU is a plus

Skills and Abilities:

  • Effective interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to present information to small and/or large groups
  • Must be well organized and a self-starter
  • Valid drivers’ license and acceptable motor vehicle report required

This position is a remote (work from home) role with a company vehicle.

BARS offers a competitive salary, excellent benefits and an opportunity for personal and professional growth. If you are interested in a career at BARS, please submit your cover letter and resume for consideration.

Berkley Agribusiness Risk Specialists
Human Resources
11201 Douglas Avenue
P.O. Box 1594
Urbandale, IA 50322

Apply Online

Berkley Agribusiness Risk Specialists participates in E-Verify and maintains a drug-free workplace.
Berkley Agribusiness Risk Specialists is an equal opportunity employer dedicated to a policy of compliance with all federal, state, and local laws regarding nondiscrimination in employment.

The City of Ames is conducting a recruitment to establish a Civil Service eligibility list for this classification. The list will be valid for up to one year from the date of certification by the Ames Civil Service Commission and may be used to fill one or more vacancies in this classification. In addition, City of Ames Civil Service employees who have previously held Civil Service status in this classification and are interested in voluntarily demoting or laterally transferring into the current vacancy must submit their application by the deadline.

Under direction of the Public Works Director this individual will be responsible for the detailed analysis, review, and daily maintenance of the Public Works Operating and Capital Improvements Program (CIP) budgets, successfully performing a variety of administrative tasks, developing and assisting with public outreach initiatives, and related work as required or assigned.

Salary: $22.29 – $31.79 Hourly
$46,359.00 – $66,125.00 Annually
Closing Date: May 31, 2016 at 5 p.m.

Examples of Essential Job Functions:

Coordinates the calculation and compilation of the Public Works Operating budgets as well as the Public Works portion of the Capital Improvements Program budget; develops and prepares department budget reports; reviews and recommends changes to approved budgets. Responsible for reviewing monthly expenses, correcting accounting errors, and recommending solutions to ensure expenditure compliance with budget. Confirms budget status for Council Action Forms. Processes construction progress payments and change orders to verify funding and provide necessary reporting; processes reimbursement requests from grants and other sources; develops and maintains construction grant records; prepares billing reports for developers; generates purchase orders and pays invoices. Interprets and recommends changes to departmental policies and procedures. Conducts special research, analysis and report preparation. Develops and maintains operational procedures, records and personnel files. Acts as a public outreach liaison for the department; provides information and follow-up to the public and contractors regarding public works activities; prepares press releases, writes articles and serves as a communication point of contact for the Public Works department. Coordinates work with the Administrative Services work group, as needed.


Education and Experience: Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Business Administration, Finance, Accounting or related field; at least one year of experience in preparing, maintaining, analyzing, and reporting complex information such as budgetary, accounting, technical or operational data. Internships will not be counted toward the experience requirement.

*Pay will be commensurate on education, experience and qualifications.*

Applications must be filed online here. For more information about this position, please click here.

Please contact the City of Ames with any questions regarding this position.
City of Ames
515 Clark Ave
Ames, IA 50010

Career Corner: Enhance your wellbeing this winter

If you missed out on our four-part wellbeing webinar series this past fall, it’s not too late to listen and learn. The webinars focus on wellbeing in four areas: your career, your finances, your physical health, and your social circle. These presentations are free to view. Take some time during this crazy (and sometimes stressful) holiday season for yourself!

Click here to view the webinars.

Career Corner: Take Advantage of our New Career Coach/Life Coach List!

By Katie Lickteig, Assistant Director of Outreach & Events

coaching-clipart-images3Do you want to make a career change? Have you been looking for a job for some time with no luck? Is your life unbalanced? Every once in a while, some of us find ourselves in a place when we need a little career guidance. We have recently started to list ISU alumni (or non alumni who are ISUAA members) who are certified career coaches or life coaches on our website. If you are interested in connecting with one of them, click here for the list. There is a fee for this type of consultation which will be determined by each individual coach.

Also, if you are a certified career/life coach and would like to be added to this list, contact Katie Lickteig at

Career Corner: Read Me

By Katie Lickteig, Assistant Director of Outreach & Events

stack of books image-AWsUWhat’s on your reading list? I’ll be honest and say that when I can find a few free minutes to read, I tend to stay in the world of fiction. Nonfiction books just aren’t my thing. However, I’ve recently realized that I’ve become a bit of a “professional development” book junkie. Because of an informal book group our office has had in the past, I’ve racked up my fair share of books in this genre, and I have found that I actually enjoy them. Here’s a list, that by no means is complete, of some book suggestions for your reading pleasure.

Career Corner: Time to Clean Your Office?

By Katie Lickteig, Assistant Director of Outreach & Events

When you look at your workspace right now, what do you see? Stacks of papers and magazines (from several months ago)? Empty soda bottles from the previous week? Or maybe your desk is actually free of “stuff,” but upon closer inspection you notice a layer of dust coating everything and files so thick you can barely close your filing cabinet drawer?

In our office, we have scheduled a few half days devoted to cleaning out our files during the summer. As a staff, we know it’s too easy to get sucked into your inbox or start your next project if the person in the office next to you isn’t sorting through their files as well.

The next time you think you might need to go through your files or clean your office, just do it. There will always be an excuse to not do it, but you’ll feel a lot more productive, organized, and energized after it’s done. And you’ll probably end up with some extra space that you can use to start collecting more files!

Career Corner: Don’t Forget the Questions

By Katie Lickteig, Assistant Director of Outreach & Events

Recently, I’ve been sitting in on some interviews for an open position we have in the office, and it’s reminded me about an aspect of interviewing that sometimes gets overlooked: asking questions! No, not from the interviewer’s side of the table, but from the interviewee.

It’s usually common for an interviewee to ask about the office culture or what the organization is looking for in a candidate (although I’m sometimes surprised at how many candidates don’t ask any questions). And that’s all great information to gather. What impresses me more and what makes candidates more memorable to me is when they ask questions that show they’ve done some research and have already pictured working with the staff and what would that be like and what challenges would that present. Whether it’s accurate or not, candidates who ask several specific questions related to the job seem like they want the job more than candidates who don’t ask any.

Career Minute

Think You Chose the Wrong Career?
Do you have a sinking feeling that after years of college and working in a specific industry you may have gotten it all wrong? Read this article from Brazen Careerist to find out some tips to help you transition to the career you love.

Archived Webinars
We have several archived career-related webinars that you can watch at any time. The topics range from emotional intelligence to why you might be sabotaging your job search. Click here to watch and keep checking back as more archived webinars will be added.

Staying Motivated at Work

We’re over six months away from the creation of our 2013 New Year’s resolutions. (And I guess that means we’re less than six months away from the 2014 batch.) How are your resolutions coming along? Yeah, mine aren’t so great either. This brings me to the focus of this post: motivation. Specifically, how do you stay motivated at work? If you’re having problems breaking through the wall, check out these five tips by Erica Dhawan at The Daily Muse.