Thursday, Oct 30, 2014
Agri Leader

Ag internships are key to landing that job


Published:

Hannah Shetters is a student at UF who is working on a bachelor's degree in animal science with a specialization in the Safety and Processing of Meat and Poultry, and will be starting her master's degree this fall. She is also working as an intern at Buckhead Beef, in Auburndale, where she has been gaining hands-on experience in her field for the past two summers (10-12 weeks each). Moreover, she is adding impressive background experience to her resume.

Shetters' internship has allowed her to do everything from work on developing new and exciting branded items, to performing cooking yield and tenderness testing, to comparing different products, to designing point-of-sale materials, to auditing raw material along with generating spreadsheets, in order to improve the raw material auditing process overall.

"I discovered that there is no better way to learn about the business itself than to jump right in and 'learn as you go.' I am constantly learning," said Shetters, who, after taking a tour of the company, contacted the president of Buckhead Beef and asked if they were looking to hire an intern for the summer. Turns out Shetters became their very first intern.

In today's working world, it often takes a lot of drive and tenacity to find a job in one's field and that is why internships can be key to offering the kind of experience one may need to get a job, or perhaps, stay on staff past the internship. Furthermore, it is often expected that one enter a field with some experience. Employers have come to expect it.

"Internships are extremely important for many reasons, both for the employer and the student," said Erika Osmundson, director of marketing and communications at AgCareers.com, a site dedicated to helping employees and employers find agriculture jobs, agriculture career opportunities, and jobs in food, natural resources and biotechnology.

Osmundson explained that internships are helpful to both interns and employers. "They help students to narrow in on a focus and try out several career opportunities before making a long-term commitment," said Osmundson, who added that students can learn which areas of a business they enjoy, as well as experience varying types of company cultures. Plus, they get a chance to gain some real work experience.

"On the flip side, employers have a human capital resource with a fresh perspective to work on special projects or tasks that current staff are unable to get to; they can test out a pool of potential candidates; and build an effective recruiting tool," said Osmundson, who explained the importance of providing students with a good internship experience is crucial for success with their internship program.

While Shetters' internship is in the beef industry, some of the recent internships posted on AgCareers.com include: grain management, product/research, human resources, technical writing, engineering, swine production, agronomy research, marketing, welding and developmental sales. There were more than 1,000 internship listings posted on AgCareers.com in 2012.

More good news is that most internships do provide some pay. According to the AgCareers.com Internship Survey (2012), of those interns responding from participating agribusiness organizations, the majority of interns stated they were paid between $12 and $16. Zero percent stated that they were unpaid.

Furthermore, internships can be an enjoyable experience. "The one thing I love most about being an intern at Buckhead Beef is being able to have the chance to connect with so many different people on many different levels and hear their stories on how they became a part of the meat industry and agriculture in general," said Shetters, who explained that much of what she is learning during her internship can't be learned in a classroom. "I feel so lucky and proud to be considered a part of the Buckhead Beef family and in being told that I am 'welcome back' anytime," added Shetters.

When looking for an internship, it's important to check career websites, such as AgCareers.com, as well as company websites. Career services offices that are located on college campuses are also great resources for learning about internship opportunities.

Social media shouldn't be overlooked. "Students can learn more about organizations they are interested in, as some businesses have done some recruiting for interns through social media, but even more so, employers are using social media to learn more about candidates," said Osmundson who added that is why profiles that are public should always remain professional.

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