Navigating what you should do before, during, and even after an agriculture internship can be tricky, especially if it is your first internship. However, with a good work ethic and effective communication, you can ensure that you will have a successful internship that may lead you into a career in agriculture.
Before an Internship
Maintaining good communication with your employer and researching the company and position before you start your internship is vital, according to Jodie Rettinhouse, the Career Advisor at Chico State University. These actions will allow you to get many of your initial questions answered about your employer and your role as an intern. The questions you should ask may include but are not limited to:
- Start and end date?
- What are the daily hours you will be working or will the hours vary by the day?
- What other employees will you be working with?
- Are there any anticipated projects that you will be working on?
- Proper dress in the workplace?
- Should you dress professionally or business casual if you are in an office?
- Do you need any Personal Protective Equipment or safety gear if you are working in a shop or in the field?
Aside from just speaking with your employer before your internship, it is also beneficial to visit your workplace before you start to speak with your supervisor and other employees to establish your network within the company. This shows initiative and that you are excited to be interning with the company and its personnel.
During an Internship
Communication continues to be even more valuable during your internship. If you are given a task that you are unsure about how to complete, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Always be upfront with your employer if you do not know how to complete a task, but ask to learn.
As the millennial generation, we are often thought of as lazy and not willing to put in hard work. However, those of us in agriculture know better than most about how to put in effort and go above the expectations for hard work. This is a skill that will not only serve you well during your internship, but it will also lead to great letters of recommendation from your employer and a possible career with the company.
By being able to ask for help and willing to learn any task, you will show the most important component of any internship or career, a good work ethic. Chris Garmon, the Deputy Manager for the Kern County Fair, said he had a great experience with interns he worked with because once he trained them, they “got the job done.”
Megan Jacobsen, the National Marketing Manager for Solutions 4Earth, said an important aspect of any internship is establishing mentors. These mentors are able to challenge you and give you their perspective for what the industry is looking for during your internship, while remaining great contacts during your entire career.
After an Internship
After an internship, it is important to write a handwritten thank you card to not only your supervisor, but all the employees that you worked with or learned from.
Chris Garmon said, “These professionals understand that there is a need for the up-and-coming students to learn about their industry.” A thank you card reinforces that you have learned from these professionals and serves as a genuine way to thank your employer for their time and the effort they put in to train you and teach you. They are also a great networking tool!
Another great networking tool you should utilize to foster your relationship with your supervisor and other company employees is LinkedIn. LinkedIn will help you keep in touch with your former employer and keep them up-to-date with where you are currently at in your career.
Keeping up-to-date with your former internship supervisors and employers is key for getting a job when you graduate college, according to Megan Jacobsen.
“It’s about who you know and connections can get you very far,” said Megan.