UNI-founded Iowa Chill business provides opportunities to the next generation of students
A business that was founded at UNI is now passing its knowledge and opportunities to the next generation of students. The Iowa Media Company, which owns and runs the viral social media accounts “Iowa Chill” and “Midwest vs. Everybody,” has brought on several UNI interns into the fold to learn and help grow the brand, providing students real-world applications for what they’ve learned in the classroom.
The internship program is new since we last talked with them. Additionally, they have relocated their headquarters to UNI’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, where the company originally began, and this is also where the interns now work.
Two of the interns, Emma Criswell (‘23) and Hanna Saland (‘24), have been helping the founders, Scott Burak (‘17), Bryce Bortscheller (‘17), Darian Jones (‘17) and Nathan Krieps (‘20) with content and marketing since the early summer of 2023. And so far, the experience has been more than they could’ve imagined.
“It’s been such a good experience,” said Criswell, who recently graduated and is joining the Iowa Media Company full-time with a focus on content creation. “It’s really cool to be behind a brand that I’ve known and loved for so many years. I had very little social media experience before this, but now I’m pretty confident. I’ve learned the brand voice, speaking to the audience, and different social media platforms.”
One of her proudest projects has been growing the Midwest vs. Everybody TikTok account to more than 50,000 subscribers, posting memes and other content about different states in the Midwest and Midwest culture.
One of her focuses was making state-by-state posts. For example, calling out that the popular kids' game “Duck, Duck, Goose” is called “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck” in Minnesota. Or a post about Iowa’s favorite pizza comes from gas stations.
Saland, who is majoring in marketing management, has been on the e-commerce marketing side of things, taking charge of website updates, doing backend work for sales as well as making advertisements for Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and emails.
One of her proudest accomplishments is starting work on an influencer program. Saland has started to outline what that program might look like, but she’s excited to continue working on it in the new year and hopefully launch it over the next several months.
“This internship just really sets the foundation for what it looks like to work in marketing,” Saland said. “They’ve even helped me understand more about SEO, which I wasn’t interested in at first, but they insisted because it’s a good skill to have. So I learned, and I kind of like it. I was surprised by that.”
Saland plans to continue working with the company until graduation in May and hopes to stick around even longer.
“I’ve learned a lot about marketing in class, but what is it really out there in the world?” Saland said. “I’m thankful to the Iowa Chill team for giving me the opportunity to work with them on campus. I’ve followed the account since high school, and I never thought I would know the people who ran the pages. I think it’s a great place for someone who has never had an internship because my bosses are so willing to teach and are flexible with school.”