It’s spring break for many college students and before you know it, it will be summer. Summer is prime time for college students to work at an internship. And no other field is more important to gain experience than an internship than agriculture. It’s a chance to see what you may like or not like about specific ag careers.
- Network, network, network. I cannot stress this enough. Know people, talk to people, have your parents and other friends and family talk to people and start looking early – even up to 6 months beforehand. Take advantage of every opportunity you may have. And your network of people does not necessarily have to be ag related. Here is a great example of non-ag networking:
My daughter was a high school gymnast. During her high school competition years, she competed against another gymnast from a neighboring school. When my daughter was looking for an internship, she unknowingly applied to a company where this other gymnast’s father worked. Our family did not know the family, other than purely name recognition. But it was that name recognition that resulted in her landing the internship. This gymnast’s father recognized my daughter’s name and she was hired. By the way, this was a premier internship with a well-established agriculture company.
Who would have thought gymnastics would have been an avenue for an ag internship?
- Call. This may sound simple, but contact businesses and key ag people you know and ask if they have any internships available. And even more important, call the companies/organizations which you would consider your dream job. And even if they tell you no at first, it’s possible they may contact you back at a later time and have one available.
Again, another example:
When my daughter attended a women’s ag conference in North Dakota through her current internship, she met a woman from the Minnesota Department of Ag. A few months later as my daughter was looking for a summer internship, she emailed this woman and asked if they had any internships available for the summer. She emailed her back and said they did not. But a few months later, the woman recontacted my daughter and told her they had some money available and they did have an internship available. And the best part? This was a dream internship for my daughter.
- Use online resources. Search for internships online using sites for ag related internships such as www.agcareers.com or www.internmatch.com. Also, make sure you have a LinkedIn account. This is another way for people in ag to find you.
- Ask about internships with organizations you or your parents are members of. Organizations such as Farm Bureau, Corn Growers, Soybean Association, Dairy Association or Pork Producers are common in the upper midwest. Many of these these organizations have internships. In addition to ag organizations, contact your college. They may be able to give you some insight on possible internships.
Attend ag conferences and workshops. Again, this is a great way to meet people and get your name out there. And don’t be afraid to make your wishes known. Create some personal business cards that shows your contact information, education information and your career goals. Leave this card with them. It is something for them to remember you. Use these cards in internship interviews also. My daughter went to Kinkos and created her personal contact cards.
When you do meet prospective internship employers, remember the three P’s.
- Positive attitude
- Passion – show it
You never know when these people will come back later and help you out. Also, remember you just never know who, when or where these opportunities will present themselves. Which brings me to the next piece of advice.
If you do get a call for an internship interview, make sure you take some time and review their website or facebook page. Understand their mission statement and use that information during your interview. Also, make sure you let them know you want to be a part of their company/organization. This is so important – they want to know that you want to be a contributing member of the success of their company/organization.
With these tips, you will be one step closer to landing that dream internship in agriculture. There are many exciting opportunities in ag and you can make your career dream a reality.