When two undergraduate engineering students took a chance at an internship in Iowa, they discovered that “wide open spaces” means there’s plenty of room to grow. For Maggie and Tom Gouger, Iowa was not only the place where their relationship grew, but also where their careers, finances and personal development continue to flourish.
Due to her father’s career, Maggie grew up living in many different states including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Connecticut. When she looked for a school to support her engineering ambitions, she found something special at Iowa State University.
“I loved the community and campus when I visited,” Maggie said. “I just really felt like I was at home there.”
Tom, who attended Bradley University in Illinois, also found something special in Iowa, including a friendly community, affordable living and most importantly his future wife, Maggie.
As Tom and Maggie pursued their education and planned for the future, they quickly established a strong connection with Iowa company HNI Corporation, a leading manufacturer of workplace furnishings and residential building products in Muscatine. Though most undergrad students tend to diversify their internships, the pair discovered this company offered a wealth of new experiences and opportunities that kept them coming back for three separate internships.
“For me, I kept coming back to HNI because, after my first internship, they really cared about the work I did and what I was interested in,” Maggie said. “It was about my personal growth, professional career and my interests.”
“If you want to learn a new skill, HNI will help you with that,” Tom said. “They offer certain classes to help train you on different skills, or if they don’t offer it then they’ll help you find training and pay for it.”
These personalized internships struck a chord with Maggie and Tom, and ultimately inspired them to commit to full-time positions at HNI and officially plant their roots in Iowa.
With planting roots comes the arduous and overwhelming task of purchasing a home; however, Iowa’s low cost of living allowed Maggie and Tom to turn that dream into a reality in Lone Tree, Iowa.
While friends and family living in other states continued to save up for their future homes, Maggie and Tom were already getting a head start in building the life they desired. Along with the purchase of an affordable home, they are able to experience the best of both worlds, small town living with the convenience of a major city.
“There’s just so many options,” Tom said. “ You can have land and be 20 minutes away from a nice city.”
Making Iowa home also led Maggie and Tom to develop hobbies and pursue interests as they discovered Iowa’s robust recreational opportunities.
“People don’t think of Iowa as a place where you can hike, but there are caves and a lot of trails around here that are pretty cool,” Tom said. “It’s not just cornfields.”
Since making Iowa their home, Tom and Maggie have come to appreciate the state’s opportunities to grow in every aspect of their lives. Here, they have discovered growing companies, a low cost of living and endless recreational adventures that allow them to love where they work, live and play.
“If given the chance to live elsewhere, we wouldn’t even consider it,” Maggie said.