University of Iowa business analytics student Emma Keefe used all the resources the university has to offer to figure out what she wanted to do. It culminated with a job offer in the Twin Cities, which she accepted, with one caveat: she wanted to work in Iowa, a state she loves.
Tom Snee
Tim Schoon
Emma Keefe

Degree: Business analytics and information systems 

Hometown: Marion, Iowa

Plans after graduation: Keefe will be working at the Ernst & Young office in Des Moines, Iowa.

Emma Keefe never knew how much she enjoyed Iowa until she spent a few months away from it.

Keefe, a business analytics and information systems (BAIS) major, interned in the Minneapolis office of the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young after her junior year. She enjoyed the work and the people she met, but by the end of the summer, she knew that the high intensity life of the big city wasn’t for her.

“I realized how much I like Iowa,” says the Marion native. So when E&Y offered her a job in the Minneapolis office, she thanked them but asked if she could work in Iowa, instead. The firm obliged, eager to keep a talented new employee, and she’ll start working in the Des Moines office shortly after she graduates in May.

“Des Moines is a smaller city, it’s more navigable and it has a homey feel, but it still has a lot of corporate headquarters and lots of businesses,” says Keefe. “I’m really looking forward to starting my career there.”

Keefe leaves the university determined and focused with a career path roughly sketched out. A far cry, she acknowledges, from the student who chose to attend the UI mostly because she thought Iowa City was a cool town.

But she used all the resources the university has to offer to figure out what she wanted to do. She visited the Pomerantz Career Center early in her first year to meet with a career counselor and take an interest inventory test. The daughter of an engineer, Keefe realized she, too, was an analytical type who liked to look into the future and plot the most effective and efficient way to get there.

“And I like offices,” she says. “I found out I like doing things where I have a desk and an office.”

So she went to the university website and started looking for analytical careers that would lead straight to an office job after four years of college. She found something about business analytics and information systems in the Tippie College of Business, and even though she’d never heard of business analytics or information systems, it looked intriguing. By the time she finished her first year, she had signed up as a BAIS major.

“You can be whatever you want to be at Iowa.”

Emma Keefe

From there, things fell into place. Keefe took a business statistics class that confirmed she made the right choice of a major, and she started getting involved in campus life. She tutored students in the Department of Biology, served as a teaching assistant for an introductory finance course, and helped business students improve their writing as a volunteer in the Tippie College’s Judith Frank Business Communications Center. She competed in and won the United States Information Technology Collegiate Conference Microsoft Office competition in 2018. She indulged her love of music by singing in the University Choir for three years, and got to break-in the new Voxman Music Building when it opened in 2016.

She also joined Women in Business, which opened both eyes and doors during her three years in the group. Not only did she create new friends with other women students interested in careers in business, it introduced her to women in numerous career fields and showed her a path to professional success.

“It lit a fire in me, made me think that I want to do that,” she says. She was in the group for two years, eventually being selected as vice president of technology, which is another thing she never thought would happen when she chose a college, that she would be vice president of anything.

Tippie College of Business

Tippie College of Business is consistently ranked among the country’s top business programs.  LEARN MORE

She did that one better when she was elected president of the Tippie Technology and Innovation Association, or Tippie Tech, a group for students majoring in BAIS, computer science, and informatics for networking and professional development. Yvonne Galusha, Tippie Tech’s faculty adviser, says Keefe helped maintain the group’s forward momentum from the previous year. She says Keefe increased participation in group’s activities by adding a point system, which requires members to attend activities to stay in the group.

“She’s a great communicator and a great delegator, which is sometimes a challenge for students in leadership positions who often try to do everything themselves,” Galusha says. “She does a great job of working with other students and following up to make sure projects get finished.”

Keefe also worked to bring Tippie Tech together with the Tippie Analytics Cooperative, an experiential learning center in which BAIS students work with organizations to solve real-world business challenges.

Keefe says her experience at UI shows that people find their way in the world with an open mind and a willingness to try new things.

“I didn’t choose the University of Iowa for the business school, but it turned out to be the best business school I could have gone to,” she says. “You can be whatever you want to be at Iowa.”