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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Local student in finals of Iowa's own 'Apprentice' style contest

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Buena Vista University senior Megan Walz has been selected as a finalist in the Des Moines-based "Apprentice"-style contest, "FourHire!"

The contest promotes efforts to keep Iowa college graduates in the state and features 12 graduating students from various Iowa colleges as contestants competing for jobs at the four sponsoring Des Moines metro area employers: Allied Insurance, The Des Moines Register, Principal Financial Group, and Wells Fargo.

Megan Walz, a corporate communication major and theatre minor from Sioux Falls, S.D., applied for the contest in early November with a three-minute video and application.

She focused on her leadership roles at BVU, as a four-year member and current vice president of Alpha Psi Omega, a Student Senate member, a resident advisor, leader of a service trip last spring break, theater performer, writer for the campus newspaper, and creator of a theatre program for an elementary after-school program.

Walz was thrilled to find out in mid-December that she had been chosen as a participant in the contest, which started in mid-January as each contestant was interviewed by all four of the employers. They have had challenges thrown at them, such as creating a complete major business plan - in six hours.

The students are based at the Pappajohn Center, and get $100, access to a computer and phone. A video crew from Mediacom follows them through their challenges, for a series of reality shows to be produced later.

"One of the good things about the contest is that we've had media training sessions. We learned what to say, what not to say, and what to wear. They taught us the pros and cons of interviewing. We also had a resume critique, which was probably one of the most helpful things to me," Walz said.

On Feb. 10, the twelve contestants were put to the challenge in their first competition. They were asked to create marketing campaigns that would be attractive to college graduates and effective in having them stay in Iowa. Based on their work, the judges, a panel of representatives from each of the four companies as well as the FourHire! committee formed by Greater Des Moines Partnership's Young Professionals Connection, narrowed the field down to eight contestants, with Walz still in the competition.

The second challenge was held Friday in downtown Des Moines. The final winners will be named this Friday.

Walz is excited at the prospect of landing a job with one of the sponsoring employers, the prize for four survivors in the competition.

"I want to stay in the Midwest because of the midwestern values. Des Moines would just be a really good transition for me. Any of the companies would be good to work for, as all of them are really influential companies in Des Moines."

"The 'Four Hire' program is a great way to showcase the job opportunities in Central Iowa," says Kay K. Runge, Des Moines Public Library Director. The second challenge involved creating a business plan for the facility.

Each candidate had ten minutes to present their business plan to the judges panel, made up of representatives from each of the hiring companies.

"Though this competition is modeled after "The Apprentice," it isn't like it because we all get along really well," Walz said.

They were broken up into three teams made up of four contestants. Walz was on the green team. They were given Nextel phones - just like on "The Apprentice."

Walz and one of her competitors decided to make a video in downtown Des Moines showing the main attractions. Soon, they were receiving phone calls on their Nextel phones from different news stations.

"There was a lot of press in the Des Moines area. It was good, but it became a bit of a hassle. I mean, we only had from nine to three to finish this video, which should normally take two weeks at least. And the stations were calling us and asking us to stay where we were so they could follow our story," Walz said.

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