Recently, I've been reflecting on how I use LinkedIn to see what's going on in the professional lives of my friends and colleagues, like almost any other social media page. However, I realized that I, myself, have not given much of an update to my professional life in-the-making. So I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned in the past two months at Heartland Financial USA, Inc.
The first thing I learned at Heartland is that I will not be fetching coffee and running errands all day. If you've ever seen “The Devil Wears Prada,” you know that Andy (Anne Hathaway) works as an assistant (not even an intern) and runs errands and fetches coffee for upwards of 10 hours per day. Her pay is terrible, her boss, Miranda (Meryl Streep) is wretched, and Andy feels like she's drowning. I think most millennials imagine this is how their first internship will go, right down to trying to find the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript. While this may be the workings of some internships, it is so unlike mine.
A little background on Heartland Financial USA, Inc.; Heartland was founded in 1981 and is a holding company that owns and manages 13 different banks across the country. These banks range anywhere from Illinois to California, Minnesota to Texas, and the states that lie between. The special thing about Heartland as a holding company is that it has the "big bank punch with the community bank touch." Heartland allows for banks to make decisions locally, but still provides customers with all the resources to satisfy their banking needs.
The second thing I learned at Heartland is that I am never bored. Everything that is designed for these member banks under Heartland is designed by Heartland employees. I've designed creative pieces for banks from Arizona Bank & Trust to Dubuque Bank & Trust, located Dubuque, Iowa, where Heartland is based. Recently, Heartland completed the merger of Centennial Bank and Trust and Citywide Banks in Colorado. With any merger or acquisition, there are going to be a lot of marketing material updates, press releases, fliers, and updates for standard banking papers. My intern year came at a great time because I got to be a part of this big transition. There has been so much updating and changing and fixing and reworking to be done for this conversion, and it's been so much fun! The days go by swiftly and it is enjoyable.
Lastly (for now), the third thing I learned at Heartland is that everyone is awesome! I've yet to encounter someone that I do not like. All of the people I work with are great. They've helped me every step of the way through my internship. When starting at any company, there are always new programs to learn and file locations to find. My coworkers have helped me learn how to do these new and unfamiliar things. I've become a whiz at finding a file buried 12 folders deep. I've found newer and easier ways to complete tasks in programs I've been working in for the past three years. My disdain for working on a PC computer has lessened because I can more efficiently understand how to use one. Every day, I learn something new here. I've made friends through this internship and connections that will help me in my future.
The more I grow and change, the more I realize that Miranda is not the bad guy in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Miranda has her standards in order and is running her magazine according to those standards. Andy has to gain a more intense work ethic and has more difficult tasks to complete (even finding the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript, which she did). In the real working world, life is never perfect. Bad days will happen, your boss will upset you, and you will feel like you're drowning. However, if you're working a job you love, work doesn't feel like work. Days will go by faster and work will be fun. And before you know it, your first internship is almost over and you're saddened by the thought of leaving the people who have taught you so much.
Four days. Two national parks. 2,000 miles. $400. And the World's Largest Holstein Cow.
Crazy, right? That much distance, that little time, and that low of a cost? And I thought it was going to be more money! As you can probably tell from my last blog post, I enjoy traveling. And I like to do it as low-cost as possible. It's a challenge, and I love a good challenge.
Earlier this year, a friend and fellow travel bug approached me asking if I wanted to do a trip with her. The trips we've done together have always been in larger groups overseas, so this would be a different trip for the two of us. From there, the planning began and we settled on camping in North and South Dakota.
For our trip, we purchased a lot of goods ahead of time/already had some goods we brought with us. My friend had a tent, cots for sleeping and some other camping gear. We worked together to purchase food to bring with on our trip . We prepped meals to bring with us, figured out some healthy (and unhealthy, let's me honest) snacks to bring with, prepped our playlists with the widest variety of music you can imagine, and set out on our adventure! The back of her car was so packed, you couldn't see out the back of it.
Day One - Somewhere in Minnesota
So day one wasn't much of a trip. We left in the late afternoon and made a stop in Minnesota to stay the night. Oh, and we got pulled over on the way there. For going two miles/hour over the speed limit. For our first night, we learned how to work together at pitching the tent. I hadn't pitched a tent in probably 12 years, but we managed to get it down. We pretty much went to bed right away. This was the best night of sleep we would get the whole trip (and the warmest).
Day Two - Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Day Three - Deadwood Forest & Mount Rushmore
All in All
Even though sleeping 2/3 nights was slightly miserable, this trip was unforgettable. I would do it again in a heartbeat, maybe just not in October. The Dakotas have so much to offer. The views are indescribable, the natural world is gorgeous, and they don't make bad wine either. If you ever have a chance to camp in the Dakotas, I highly recommend it. If you split costs with a friend, you can make a trip for as little as $200/person, including gas, camping fees, food, and souvenir shopping.
Happy camping, friends!
I know, $1700 still seems like a lot of money. But consider this:
That $1700 bought me: my plane ticket, a 5 night stay in a hostel, all of my meals, two day trips to different locations in Ireland, and ALL of the money I spent on souvenirs or other items I brought home.
Now of course, some of that money was unnecessary spending. But when you consider it, $1700 for a 6 day trip to Ireland is not bad. So I want to lowdown on how you can do a trip like that for yourself.
Booking the flight
When booking your flight, there are a few things you should do.
1) Use a private browsing window.
The cookies in your web browser track your searches. Hence, if you search for a flight to a specific destination multiple times, the prices can increase because of your frequent searching. Be sure to enable an incognito/private window when browsing for flight options frequently. Cookies are automatically reset in incognito/private browsing sessions.
2) Use Skyscanner to book your flight.
Skyscanner is my favorite way to search for cheap flights. It pulls all the cheapest flights to your location on the dates you want to go. If you know your destination, but not the exact airport you want to go to, you can type in your general location and Skyscanner will search all airports in your destination and pull the prices for each.
3) Find the cheapest day to fly out
When on Skyscanner, you can find the cheapest day to fly out in the month you'd like to depart. When searching for a flight, select "one-way" (even if you're in need of a round trip ticket, just to determine the cheapest day to fly out). Next select depart and click whole month. This will display the cheapest days of the month to fly out. After selecting your desired dates, click search and Skyscanner will search all airlines and websites to find your cheapest flight possible.
Finding a place to stay
While in Ireland, I stayed in a hostel in Dublin the whole time. It is the cheapest option and you get to meet people from all over the world! While in my hostel room, I met people from Australia, Germany, South Africa, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Hostel's can be intimidating, but they're so much fun! I now have connections with people across the world and people that I can meet up with on future adventures.
I stayed at Abigail's Hostel while in Ireland. Abigail's is a cheap, but great hostel. They provide a free breakfast in the morning, free WiFi, free bed linens, and much more. The staff is incredibly helpful as well. They helped me book two day tours to different locations in Ireland.
Abigail's is located in Temple Bar in Dublin. Temple Bar is a major center for nightlife, shopping, and eating. There's a pub on every street and restaurants of variety, including, but not limited to: traditional Irish, Italian, American, Mexican, Japanese, and much more. There's plenty of shopping in the area, both recreational and souvenir. Temple Bar is a great place to be if you want to be in the midst of the nightlife but also in proximity to many of the tourist attractions that Dublin offers.
Tourist attractions in Dublin
Dublin has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. There are many bus tours and walking tours to go on, in addition to location specific tours. While in Dublin, I toured Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse. Other than those two specific tours, I did a lot of wandering. I explored the city by walking around and seeing things for myself. Additionally, I did a lot of research (on Pinterest) of places to visit in Dublin. Pinterest was actually a big help in my trip planning. It gave a lot of insight into where to go, where to eat, and what to do.