Iowa

July 18, 2008
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you all. Sorry about that. Thanks to all who sent birthday wishes. That was really nice to get lots of emails and cards even while especially while being away from everyone.
It’s been up and down times here. Mostly it’s been going really well. Although I do miss home, family, friends, and having the freedom to drive my car wherever I want to, I’ve been doing well. I like my job.

Principal Overall
I really love Principal as a company. It’s just overall great. Culture, people, business processes, opportunity for growth, and much more. Compared to HP, it seems much more community minded. I did like HP, but I feel like I’ve gotten so much more connected here at Principal in such a shorter amount of time. That could possibly be because I’m more grown up and kind of know more so what I want for an internship and am looking for job opportunities. The people are so welcoming here. It could be the midwest, but it could be Principal employees as well. I love my team that I work with. The Content Management Team in Information Services. My cube-mate Katherine, is 22 and so much fun. We pretty much laugh all day. But we still get a lot of work done. 🙂 She’s really smart and helps me a lot.
Everyone is so helpful. I’ve met up with 3 executives- 1 CIO of Info Security Meg Anderson (that was pretty cool), my Department’s leader Phil Gionet (I think he’s a VP Assistant CIO or something) and then the director of my department Kim Pffifner. I really enjoyed talking with Kim. We went to breakfast and she was very kinda and helpful. It’s been really neat to be able to talk to all of these upper management people. Kim and Phil pursued me and asked to meet with me, which is so cool as an intern that they want to talk to us, and then I had just met Meg Anderson at a Women in IT networking event and emailed her to see if we could get together. The corporate culture is very open. It’s a lot of fun too. I think previously I talked about Free Drink Mondays and Jeans Days on Friday, but even today they had an IS Golf outing, where most of the people in our department went golfing for half the day. I didn’t go as well as a few others on my team, but the rest of the place was empty. Lots of fun stuff, as well as hard work.

Networking
I’ve been working hard to network well. I went to a “Networking Class” yesterday. I almost didn’t go, because I thought it would be weird and definitely awkward, especially I’m not thrilled about going up to random people and getting to know them. But I went because I’m a determined person, and it was really good. They had set up little opportunities of 5 minutes for us to talk with a person and just find out about them personally. Then we had to switch and do it with another person. After that we would find yet another person who was in a different Business group (BU) and ask them what challenges they have in their BU and what they do the best in their BU. The third rotation was a little different. They had papers on the walls stating “hobbies”, “favorite restaurant”, “pets”, and “anything”, and you could go stand by the paper that you wanted to talk about. This way you got to talk with people about your hobbies, and talk with more people than just one on one. It was really good. If I was an RA again, I’d do something like that because it just creates a good way for people to get to know each other in a non-awkward way. When the person in front says that 5 minutes are up, then you just get to move on to talking to another person. It definitely was good for me.

Technical Stuff
I’ve been trying to set up lunch appointments with random people from different BUs or departments within IS. This week was really busy. I talked with the DBA (Database Adminstrators) this week a few times. I got to watch an installation of Microsoft SQL Server (for all you non-techies, it’s a database software) and talk with Shelby King, who has only been at Principal for a year. She does Server DBA stuff, which means that she supports the other DBAs who are in the business units actually using the databases. (Sorry if this is over your head, I’m sure someone will understand and appreciate the tech stuff… , I’ve got a mixed audience here). I thought that what she did was kind of boring, because it was just installing DBs onto the servers and troubleshooting when people couldn’t get logged onto the DB. Hmm, so maybe I don’t want to be a DBA. However, this afternoon I talked with Sharon Im who does SQL tuning (which means making the “queries” or requests to the DB go “faster”) and she was saying that there are also Application DBAs who are Database Analysts and work with the software that use the DBs. So there’s a difference at least. That was good to learn.

They like me …
I had lunch this week with Donna who is my team leader. I think I had explained before how I was on two teams- Content Management and Information Retention (or Retention records or something like that). However, I’ve now been switched off of the IR team, and am just doing Content Management work. Both Sara (IR) and Donna (CM) realized that I was more interested in the tech stuff than the business side of things, so they’ve been giving me different projects now, which is definitely good. I have a new mentor, although my other mentor Eric still comes over to say hi and help me if I need anything. Lance is my new mentor and he works on the CM team. He is probably in his 40s and has been on the team for awhile. He’s really good at giving me stuff. I was pretty bored for awhile because it seemed like they just didn’t have enough for me to do. I think they expect too little of interns. Or maybe I just exceeded their expectations… probably both . I am a hard worker and don’t like to just sit around, so I asked if I could have more work (I know, I know, who does that??!).So now Lance is keeping me busy, and whenever I finish a project, I go back and ask him for more. My projects have consisted in querying the databases to find out how big the files are that are stored in a specific table, rewriting some documents that told people how to install certain software, re-typing up documents that had errors in them, creating Item Types for a email mailbox server, and putting patches on the servers (that means updating their software that they use when a new “version” comes out). Anyways, so I’ve been doing a good job getting everything done well. The reason I work hard is because 1. It’s just built in me, and 2. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men since you know that you will receive and inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24) I hope that I’ll be able to share this with people when they ask. Pray for boldness.
So when I went to lunch with Donna, she was telling me that although she hasn’t worked that much with me, those on my team who have worked with me have really been impressed. They love that I catch on to things quickly (which I was like “oh good, I thought I was really slow in doing everything!”), I work hard, I ask lots of questions, I do well with ambiguity (I hate ambiguity! Haha), and I try to figure out things on my own before asking people. This was all so encouraging to hear! So now I know that they think I’m doing a good job, and I’m not trying to figure out if I’m keeping up to their standards. Apparently, I’ve exceeded them, which is great for me to hear. I was so happy the whole day. Words of Affirmation is definitely my love language, and so when people tell me what I’m doing well at, or what they like about me, etc., it really helps me out and makes me want to work harder. So that was great encouragement. I think if I wanted to stay here they might let me work on the CM team. I think I’d like that because they do a lot of diverse things on the team. The few people that I’ve talked with have asked me if I want to stay. I’d love to stay at Principal… however, I don’t know if I want to move to Iowa though. I said that if it was in So Cal, I would totally do it. But moving here means giving up a lot, and I don’t know if I’m willing to do that (or live in the snow! Ah!!). So we’ll see what happens. I know I’ll be back in So Cal at least for the year working at Biola, and from there we will see where the Lord directs.

Thunderstorms, lightning bugs, and other Iowa things
Corn. It really is everywhere. The landscaping here is so pretty. We went to a concert last night (Matt Nathanson) and it was outside by they Des Moines river. It was really a nice venue. Last week we actually went and saw Vanessa Carlton there, which was so awesome! Made me want to not ever do computer stuff and write music all day long. Hmm…
At the concert there definitely were bugs flying around everywhere! Then the rain came. It was luckily at the end of the concert so that was really good, but as we were walking back, (Ashley, Jorunn, Mark, Bryan, Emily, Marty, and I went) it was pouring! Luckily Jorunn was parked close so she gave me a ride back to my apartment.
Last weekend I went out to dinner with some other inters for my birthday. It was fun, but definitely not like hanging out with my good friends back home, or my biola friends. I’m now 20! So I’ve been trying to go to new restaurants and try different things out, so it was good to go to Spaghetti Works which is like Spaghetti Factory. It was fun. I also went to Sushi this week! It was actually pretty good. I was bold and got their special meal, which was like shrimp, in a California roll type thing. I was pretty impressed. Definitely wouldn’t be my favorite meal ever I don’t think, but I’d go and get it again actually. Being in Iowa is an adventure right? Might as well live it up to the full adventure side of life. Haven’t really done much else crazy except ride the bus. That’s definitely an adventure.

Bus rides to Walmart and other humbling experiences
I’ve been totally humbled by the experience of riding on the bus. The people who ride aren’t really the people that I’d want to be friends with. Let’s just say that I’ve always thought that the world’s a pretty nice place to live. When I get on the bus, I realize that it’s not. There was a lady sitting in front of me who didn’t have teeth, and another lady I think said that she had been in prison before. Hmm, I wish I had heard more of that conversation (she was talking with the lady sitting in front of me) but wow, the world’s not that nice of a place. I’ve heard so much foul language that I have definitely realized that I like the nice Biola bubble where I live. It’s quite safe there. Yet God calls me to not ignore these people. While sitting in church last week I was totally convicted as to how I treated the people as if I was so much better than them. I have a job at one of the top companies. You have to be smart to work there. I have nice clothes. I don’t smell bad, I have all my teeth. Hmm, I must be better than them. Yet, no! I am ragged and filthy just as they are. They need Jesus just as much as I do. It’s hard for me to realize that. The Lord totally knocked me on my face the other day and I was just like whoa, who do I think I am? Seriously. Anyways, I’ve also been helping at this church plant. Every Wednesday my friend Mark (who goes to the same church as I do) and I have been going to help build or do whatever. Last week it was stapling up insulation (yes I was in the rafters doing so), and this week was painting. Ok, insulation I can do. For a large part of the time I was holding the ladder and assisting anyways. But then this week, we painted. I hate painting! My wrists hurt from being at a computer all day, and then I have to paint like 10 foot walls.  And the Lord said, why are you complaining? Does it matter what you’re doing? You’re serving me. Serving me may not always be “fun” for you, but you can still have a joyful heart doing it. *Smack* again. So the Lord is continuing to teach me things here.

I pray that others will be able to know him through me. This weekend will be nice to relax as I’m going to go to the mall with Jorunn, cook dinner and have a “sleepover” at her apartment, as well as help some friends cleaning out their apartment. Life’s always busy. I don’t know how people do it with having a family, working, and trying to have a life (not to mention going to the gym).
So to all of you who do it all, congratulations. You are my heroes (Mom’s especially!). One day, hopefully I can be like you.

Remember, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Prayer requests:
For co-workers/interns to see Christ through me
For opportunities to share Christ
For my health (I’ve been extremely tired and awful feeling, and my wrist hurt from typing and using a mouse all day long)
For the Lord to continue teaching me how to love him more
That I would really figure out what type of IT job I would like to have in the future
For me not to be too homesick

Sorry this is so long. Thanks for reading! I appreciate your love and prayers.

June 24, 2008
And I thought after college people would be more mature! AHH! 3 meetings later, and Amanda is sick of group activities! I am an individualist- I’ve always known that. Leave me in a box, and I will get a lot done. Stick me with noisy people who distract me, and I will be bothered and feel like I didn’t get very much accomplished. Today one of the meetings was 2 hours long (well I left before it was done, so I don’t know how long it actually went for). People were just fooling around, making jokes half the time. I think what we accomplished (which was planning out how many hours it would take each department to complete different steps of the project) could have been done in a half hour. But it took forever. And we wasted so much time. I hate lost productivity! Things could get done so much more efficiently if everyone would just focus. Ok, enough ranting.

Anyways, got to see some of Des Moines this weekend, by going to the Farmers Market Downtown, and also to the zoo here. It was pretty small, nothing like the San Diego Zoo, but I guess that is one of the best in the world I think.
Hung out with some friends, and went to church on sunday evening with my team leader. It was pretty good. Definitely challenging. It was about miracles. You can’t only believe in the part of God that you can understand. Hmm, yeah, that’s what I try to do.

I went for a 2 mile jog on sunday, and then also walked around Downtown for quite awhile. Got to go see the library- I hope to go in sometime. It was closed then. Decided to walk around the Principal campus and pray for people. When we visited a factory in China, one of the ladies would go into the building at night and walk up and down the floors praying for people’s salvation. I wanted to do the same, because I thought that was really cool, but the building was locked, so I just walked around the outside and talked with the Lord. I really want to see my purpose as being a missionary here to Des Moines. Hopefully through the relationships that I am building with people I will be able to share the good news of Jesus. I’m having 6 girls over on thursday night to play games. Hopefully that will be fun and we will get to know each other better. I think we’re all looking forward to it!

May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

June 20, 2008
Pictures from the first friday night in Iowa. It’s been a good week so far.

Iowa Cubs Baseball Stadium (actually called Principal Park)

My kitchen:

Desk/Dinner table

sitting area with TV, and a sweet balcony outside the sliding door

bathroom- kinda small, but it works

super organized closet

June 19, 2008
I met a lot of friends today! It was really exciting. A few interns and then one guy who just started working full time at Principal. He had offered to show me around, and show me the tunnel system as well. It was really helpful. I also found this church that is like a few blocks away, but it meets Saturday nights. I may go, but there is a fair and fireworks this saturday night, so we’ll see.

I also had previously met Ashely, who is another girl intern who works in IT. There aren’t many girls in IT ya know! So I had emailed her to see if she wanted to do something this weekend, and there was a volunteer event going on this evening to help clean up the Zoo here in town. It was sponsored by the Des Moines intern group (which I think is a really cool idea to have a whole thing for all the interns in Des Moines to get together!) and so they gave us dinner and Ashley and I went. It was really good to go with her because we seem to click. She’s mildly talkative (I think kind of like me) and so it was so nice to have a new friend!

It got even better because while we were working at the Zoo (we stained a playground, which was fun since I haven’t painted in awhile) we got to know a few other girls. Many of the interns that were there were from Principal and I met Jorunn and Christine. Christine works at Principal and was an intern last year and knows people around the area, but Jorunn (pronounced kinda like Jordan) doesn’t really have anyone to hang out with. I am hoping to do something with Mark, Ashley, Jorunn and Christine this weekend! Yay for friends 🙂

Earlier in the day I started working on my actual project. We had a meeting about it and I will be creating the database structure for it. It was a little confusing, and I was getting worried at one point because they were talking about what I was going to do, and I thought “Ah I can’t do that by myself!” Thankfully I have lots of people to help me out whenever I have questions. My mentor Eric knows a lot, as well as Kyle who is on the Content Management Team with me.

For those of you who don’t know, Principal Financial Group has quite a few different lines of Business: Retirement plans, Life, health, and disability insurance, Mutual funds, Banking, and Money Management.
I’m just working in the Corporate Services which supports all of these groups. I like my job. It will be good for me. Definitely stretching. Last night I worked on writing a formula for like an hour and a half- and it was on my own time because I’m such a nerd like that! Ahh, I just had to figure it out! It was a pretty good one too. I got excel to figure out which numbers to put in a group that I had previously defined. I think it shouldn’t have been done in excel, but more of in a programming language instead, but I don’t really know how to do that exactly. It’s in my head, but I wouldn’t be able to write it out!

Looks like Des Moines is the place to be! One of the top 10 Cities to live in

Still haven’t ridden on the bus or found the grocery store yet. However, today my team did take me to celebrate a 5 year project that they just completed. It was kinda weird, because it was at a Brewery restaurant, so everyone had beer (except a few of us) and I just felt a little awkward being with all older men hanging out. I never know what they’re taking about… either sports stuff, or old TV shows. Oh well. It was good to top off the night with getting to know the interns at the Zoo because I was pretty social there to make up for the earlier time with my team in the afternoon.

Pray for me to keep trusting and getting to know the Lord better as I’m here to stretch myself and follow him, and for my coworkers to see Jesus through me.

Memory verse of the week:
Psalm 86:11-12
Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth;
Give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God,
with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.

June 17, 2008
I found an apartment! Yay. It’s a studio, meaning that it is kind of like a hotel room, except with a kitchen in by the bed. I thought that sounded weird, but it’s not really. I’ll take some pictures later.

Work is really great. The Information Services and IT teams here are huge. I think there are like 50 different divisions/teams within IT. It’s crazy. I’m still getting used to how to get to my cube (it’s confusing okay! :)), and learning all about Principal. This is an amazing company. They really take care of their employees well. They have a great gym, and every monday is free drink day. You can go to the 2 cafeterias, coffee shop, or pizza place and get either free soda, juice, or coffee. The dress here is business casual, but every friday is jeans day, and they sponsor certain charities and call it Dollar for Denim. You can pay $1 for a sticker that gives you the privilege to wear jeans on a specified day (this time it’s this thursday) and the money goes to the charity. They do it once a month. I think they make about $5,000 a month doing this! Crazy! An awesome way to make your employees feel “freedom” to wear what they want while helping the community and making the company look good. It’s a smart thing.

I’m working on a Documents retention team and Content Management team. So I’m a “half-intern” to both of these groups. Both teams work on keeping track of all the company documents. Since Principal is the largest 401 (k) provider, they send out statements to their customers every month. These statements are kept by the company on their servers and according to law they need to be kept for a certain length of time before they can be deleted. Different document types have different lengths of time that they need to be kept for, and I’m going to be working on a program that deletes the documents when the expiration date is up. I’ll be working with DB2 and OnDemand, which are IBM programs. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some scripting, and will be creating some database tables. I’m excited. I think I’m going to learn a lot. I learned some about mainframes today. Wow, I pretty much know nothing. But so many of these people know a ton and are helping explain it all to me.

I met one intern today. She seemed nice. She said she’s living downtown and doesn’t really have anything to do after work either so maybe we’ll hang out. However, I’ve been quite busy, because I’ve come home from work around 5:15 and then make dinner, eat, and went to the gym tonight. I caught up on some email, and now it’s already almost 10 and time to go to bed and do it all over again!

That’s all for now!

June 15, 2008
Well, I never thought that it was going to be this flat… there aren’t any mountains. But it’s beautiful here!
I’ve been taken in for the evening tonight and possibly tomorrow by a lady and her husband who work at Principal. I am pretty sure they are believers as they go to a Lutheran church here and invited me to go with them after I had expressed interest :).
This evening I went for a walk around the neighborhood of Sara and Tom (the people I’m staying with). It was so nice. There are a lot of homes, but they’re so cute. They don’t have any fences in between the neighbors. They are all open, which makes it seem like your back yard is bigger. It was about 80 degrees and sunny (yay! 🙂 ) at 8pm. I love when it’s warm outside at night. All the kids were running around the neighborhood playing games. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we’d play baseball outside our backyard. This neighborhood actually reminds me a lot of Bonsall, except a lot greener 🙂 I mean the river here did rise 12 FEET (!) so it’s very GREEN!

If the weather was this nice here all the time I would move here. Dang- the people are really nice, the city is pretty cool (it’s definitely not LA or SD, much smaller), it’s beautiful, and the pace of life is totally different (There are families everywhere, and most of the people here are STILL married to the person that they were first married to! Imagine that!).
But… it snows and the temperature drops below 60 degrees here, which is when I put on my mittens, so hmmm… 🙂
Click here to see some pictures

(Let me know if you who aren’t facebook users CAN’T see them and I can try something else)

Will write more later. I have to go to bed so I can start the first day of work!

3 responses

16 06 2008
Robin

Looks beautiful. I hope you had a greaat day at work! Wow! Can’t beleive you stasrted today- talk about jumping right in. Let mer know if you find another place okey doey? Finishing school today hopefully- Probably will end up doing some Spanish papers here and there though Love ya!!!

18 06 2008
Aunt Sue

Hi Bear!!!

Sounds like your having fun. I’m glad it gets cold there because I wouldn’t want to think that you might actually STAY there!!!! hehehe. Have fun!! Aunt Sue

19 06 2008
Marsha

Glad you like Des Moines. Please stay! You brought the beautiful weather with you and I’m loving it 🙂 Call if you need anything.

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