The Herdbook Ag Media, LLC

Agribusiness Internship Tips and Tricks for a Successful Summer

As summer quickly approaches, so does internship season. Each year, college students from across the country embark on their employment endeavors to “try out” different careers and companies. It’s an exciting time for both prospective employers and future hires. 

Meet the ag students

Agriculture students pursue their dream employers and potential passions. These fresh faces often bring enthusiasm, new ideas, vibrant energy. . .and new perspectives.

For agribusinesses bringing in students over the summer months, this can be quite exciting, but maybe a little intimidating. There’s a lot of balls to keep in the air whenever a new hire comes on board. You have all of the challenges that come with new employees, and also some new ones with inexperienced interns. Not only are you training another employee (who will hopefully be an asset to your company) but you are also assuming the role of teacher or mentor.

The give and take of internships

Remember, the best internships are a two way street. Your business gets qualified help and you also help educate the next generation of your industry.

It’s a balancing act no doubt, but one that is absolutely rewarding. Many companies love their interns and may even end up bringing them back as full time employees, making for a seamless transition that doesn’t happen in many other circumstances.

But going in unprepared can leave you feeling blindsided and make for a clunky experience both for your in-house team and your intern. Here are some tips that can help you out.

  1. Map out your program. Your internship program should function like any other position in your company. It needs to have clear, concise expectations along with standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  2. Develop your communication. Your team may be quite accustomed to the communication SOPs and tools,  but remember your intern will be entering in brand new. Be sure you have a reporting system in place and that your intern is clear on who to contact for what. Also be aware of what software they need to do their job well, such as email, Slack and shared drives. 
  3. Prepare to give grace. Internships are learning experiences first and foremost. And, with limited time, your interns will inevitably have shortcomings. Likewise, especially if you are new to the game, you may drop a few balls yourself. Take a deep breath and take it all in stride.
  4. Track progress. While there is no need to micromanage (gross, don’t forget to keep tabs on the whole internship progress. Does your new hire seem to be busting through the to-do list and getting bored? Look for ways to level them up. Are there new experiences they could try? Get them a shadow day. 
  5. Ask the right questions early on. Part of the interview process should include finding out what brought them to this particular internship. What are they hoping to get out of this? In what ways do they want to be challenged? What is their understanding of the job description? Ensuring you’re on the same page right off the bat goes a long way to eliminating issues down the road. 

Circle of life

One of the fun things about working with interns is that it’s a great way to get a pulse on the future of the industry and your company – and it provides a rare opportunity to shape it. As much as it is about “giving back” to your industry, it’s also about helping form your own ideas about the future and those who will be a part of it. 

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