When Drew Riebhoff ’10 scored a prime opportunity this summer at The Des Moines Arts Festival, he knew what to do. He simply put his Simpson education to work.
Riebhoff volunteered with the Des Moines Arts Festival as the artist relations team member. The corporate communications major says he found his passion for event planning at Simpson College. Snagging a position at one of central Iowa’s most celebrated events was the perfect way to pursue his passion.
“I saw everything from start to finish,” Riebhoff said. “We had a monthly meeting and my job was to take care of the artists and to make sure they were fed, watered and happy.”
Staying involved at Simpson through campus organizations provided Riebhoff with the necessary communication and engagement skills he needed as the artist relations team member. His fraternity was one of the main organizations teaching him how to connect with others.
“(Sigma Alpha Epsilon) was my second family away from home,” he said.
Student government and campus activities board taught him how there are always behind-the-scenes compartments to every event and organization. Riebhoff planned events such as the Stand Around and Welcome Week for Simpson, but working on the Arts Festival was the largest event in his career.
“I got to know a few of the artists very well,” he said. “It was a very unique experience because I’m a hands-on event planner.”
He knew how to provide the artists with a community oriented environment, because he had that kind of experience from his time at Simpson.
Now looking back, Riebhoff says choosing Simpson College was the best decision of his life.
“I liked how small it was,” said Riebhoff, who graduated from Melcher-Dallas High School in Iowa. “Just knowing people at Simpson, having that one-on-one with the professors and being so close to Des Moines, getting there, it was exactly what I wanted.”
Riebhoff applied to Simpson, Central College, The University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Knowing he was seeking a private, liberal arts environment, he never toured Iowa or Iowa State.
“I did visit Central,” he said. “But after my second Simpson visit, it was done.”
So what set Simpson apart?
“When you walk on campus, it felt like home at Simpson,” he said. “That’s when I knew where I wanted to go.”
When searching for a home, the surrounding people matter.
“Outside of class, professors would be like, ‘Hey Drew, how are things with campus activities board?’ or ‘Oh, I saw you guys talked about this in student government, thank you for talking about this,” he said.
Location also matters. For Riebhoff, Indianola was perfect.
“Being 20 minutes from downtown Des Moines provided me with a lot of opportunities,” he said.
Des Moines internships and volunteering opportunities were plentiful during his time at Simpson. But location was of such high importance to Riebhoff that he decided to still stay involved in the community after graduating.
Simpson taught Riebhoff to seek opportunities wherever possible. Riebhoff is now searching for more event planning opportunities throughout Des Moines. He hopes to keep his Simpson experience and connection with the Arts Festival strong.
“I’ve had people tell me, you know, I hope you’re my coordinator next year,” he said.