Erin Kokemiller

Erin Kokemiller
Year Graduated:

When she’s not going to classes and studying hard to maintain her 3.93 GPA, Erin Kokemiller is hard at work on her baking business in her family’s farmhouse kitchen. The economics senior, who graduates in May, has worked in the Iowa State House and the Capitol in Washington D.C., but has her sights set closer to home. 

What is your educational background?

After I finished my associate's degree at Des Moines Area Community College after high school, I started at Iowa State in the spring of 2018, where I will be getting my BS in economics with a minor in math.

I transferred to Liberty University at one point for a government degree and then finished online because of the pandemic. I was drawn to Liberty University because they offered a degree called intelligence studies and I was really interested in possibly trying to work for the intelligence community. That was really interesting getting to take some of those classes, but I did miss working with numbers, so that led me towards my current major of economics and math.

How did you get interested in studying economics?

I have always had an interest in politics. My parents usually had the news on at breakfast getting ready for school and I just got interested in it that way. I also like math – calculus is my favorite class – and I thought economics sounded like a good combination of those subjects.

You’ve had an interesting employment history. Describe your job duties.

I worked as a legislative clerk at the Iowa House of Representatives from January to March 2020. I was interested in political jobs and wasn't sure that I wanted to go all the way to Washington, DC, so I looked for jobs at the state level. I found their website and saw that they have clerks to help representatives and senators. I applied but didn't get a call until a week-and-a-half before the session began. I worked for Rep. Bobby Kaufman, helping set up for meetings and simple administrative things, but it's a really great experience to get to know and network with people. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who's interested in that sort of thing because you get to be a lot more involved than you would if you just work right off for the Senate or something.

Starting in September 2020, I worked as an assistant to the chief of staff in the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC. It was fun and an interesting time to be there through the pandemic and then all the craziness of the political things happening during that time.

I liked being around people from so many different places, to be in the place where so many things were happening and to get a behind-the-scenes look. I was encouraged to find that a lot of the senators are friends even when they're not on the same side, kind of comforting to know that it's not as quite as bad as sometimes they try to show on TV.

It was interesting for a while but you can wear out really easily from it, especially as hectic as everything is right now. I definitely don't regret it but I'm happy to be back in Iowa.

cakeTell us about your baking business.

I started my business, The Stir, the summer before my senior year in high school. I really liked to bake with my mom and we would always have so many extra cupcakes or cookies sitting around because I love to experiment with different things so I thought I’d try to set up something where I can sell them.  

So I went through the Department of Inspections & Appeals to get my kitchen licensed and it started out really small, just neighbors, family and friends. Then when I came back from DC this fall I decided I’d really like to try to make as much of a go as I could. With my advertising on social media, it's been keeping me a little more busy with lots of cakes and cookies for small weddings and other events. It’s been a lot of fun.

What are your plans after graduation?

I applied for the MS in Agricultural Economics program here at Iowa State. I’m interested in possibly teaching economics at the college level, possibly at a community college in Iowa, but we'll see. I just like being closer to family where it's calmer, especially after DC.

Once I have a full-time job, I hope to only do my business on the side, as a kind of a creative outlet.

What’s the best part about economics?

The best thing about studying economics is how logical and applicable it is. I think I like the math and the theory behind it, but I also like that it's so relevant – it's always so applicable to whatever is happening.