A City of Yes

Navigating career moves as a young professional can be tricky and uncomfortable. That’s why Greg Lin, an introverted Texas native, proudly shares why he said yes to Iowa, yes to community and yes to opportunity and growth in Des Moines.  

Lin’s path to Iowa began in Denton, Texas, where he was born, raised and earned a college degree. After working for his long-time piano instructor, Lin decided to do a nationwide search for higher education jobs away from home. After interviewing in D.C., L.A., Philadelphia and Delaware, Lin said yes to a career in Iowa.

Yes to Iowa

“I was not in any way looking for jobs in the Midwest,” Lin said. “That was not on the map at all.”

However, when Lin visited Des Moines for an interview at Drake University, he experienced a serendipitous encounter.

On his flight to Des Moines, Lin unexpectedly sat next to a Drake University faculty member who excitedly shared what made Drake a special place to work. Then, after interviewing at Drake, exploring the campus and attending a faculty lunch, Lin could feel that sense of warmth his airplane seatmate had described.

Exterior view of the Knapp Center on Drake University campus with the large bulldog statue.
Photo Courtesy of Drake University

Those feelings remained as Lin explored downtown Des Moines and once again found himself surprised at the sense of energy he found in the city. He distinctly remembers sitting in a coffee shop he still frequents now, making a list of all the pros and cons. 

“I’d done a little bit of research and knew the cost of living for Des Moines relative to other areas,” Lin said. “A big plus was that I could live in a downtown setting for a fraction of the cost of any other major metro area in the United States – That was a huge factor.”

After returning home to Texas and a brief tour of downtown L.A., Lin knew his gut was telling him Iowa was the right choice.

Yes to Community

Although Lin was a personable and outgoing young child, he grew up into a shy, quiet, and introverted adolescent. When he settled into Des Moines, he realized he did not know anybody, and made a conscious effort to return to the outgoing person he once was. He decided to join Young Professionals Connection, an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, where he experienced the power of ‘Iowa Nice.’

“I realized you can make connections pretty instantly in Des Moines because people are open to it,” said Lin. “There wasn’t a barrier of self-consciousness so that really helped me out.”

Two students holding a bulldog on the painted sidewalk of Drake University's campus.
Photo Courtesy of Drake University

While attending Young Professionals Connection events, Lin discovered his passion for leadership, communication and relationship building. He became more involved and eventually served as the organization’s president. 

These connections eventually led him to switch from a data analytics role at Drake to his current position in the alumni relations department.

When it comes to finding a community, Lin shared that it is a lot like his experience with playing piano. Although most considerate it a very solitary activity, Lin found the magic of combining the talent of multiple individuals into complex and beautiful ensembles. 

Yes to Growth

Student sitting with a bulldog at Drake University.

As Lin reflects on his six years in Iowa, he notes that it truly is a place where growth is not only possible but also frequent. 

He’s seen this through two friends who decided they wanted to experience more board game events at local bars. So, they created a successful and profitable event pop-up series.

He also has friends who have launched successful websites and been recognized by national news outlets. Another friend created a startup to help track tennis balls for recreational players and now has a functional live app. 

“If there’s something that you want to do here, you can get it done,” Lin said. 

“When  I tell a young professional about the impact they can make in Des Moines, I tell people, ‘Des Moines is a city of yes.”

Graphic comparing Denton, Texas to Des Moines, Iowa.

Last updated January 17, 2024

Published February 11, 2023

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