As an employee of AgCareers.com, I’d like to think that most internships nowadays are paid. In fact, of the 704 interns participating in our 2016 Internship Benchmark Survey, NONE of their internships were unpaid, and only 1% were paid between $5 and $8.99 per hour. But there are still a few organizations out there that do not offer concrete compensation to their interns year after year (in my book, being paid less than minimum wage is essentially an unpaid internship). They may have good reason for it: they may be a nonprofit or government organization, or they offer benefits such as housing that they feel covers an intern’s compensation for the summer/term. Or perhaps your “unpaid internship” are really just clinical/educational/job shadowing hours you need to complete for educational purposes.
If you are considering an unpaid internship, apprenticeship, co-op, or the like, you’ll want to examine the opportunity for everything’s it’s worth to determine if the experience will pay off for you one way or another. Check out the positive and negative points about unpaid internships below before making your decision. Also, be sure to know whether your internship is really paid or unpaid before you make your decision. And inquire deeply as to whether or not this internship experience has true educational value, because if not, it could be illegal.
When it comes to preparing for an agriculture career, an internship will definitely help you.
Even the most qualified candidates will face a lot of competition for good jobs, so having an internship under your belt could be the differentiator that kicks off a long and fruitful career.
The U.S. edition of AgCareers.com’s 2015 Agribusiness Job Report shows that the total number of job postings in the U.S. and Canada was up 26%, to 81,000+, compared to the year prior. AgCareers.com received almost 6,800 job postings each month throughout the U.S. and Canada last year. While there are plenty of jobs, there are lots of suitable applicants vying for them.
Consider these statistics from the aforementioned study, for example:
With all of those highly trained people either already in or on the verge of entering the agriculture industry, you can improve your odds of landing a job by doing an internship.
Read on for information that’ll help you answer the question: How important are internships?
I wish there had been an article like the one I’m about to write three years ago as I sat at my desk my first week at my summer internship with my state’s state fair. I was holding back tears, nervously clicking away at the leftover scraps of internship postings in the area while my fellow interns sat nearby working, as I should have been. But I just couldn’t focus. It was only my first week, and I felt like I’d made a terrible mistake.
I’m sure my experience isn’t extremely uncommon, but it’s just something you don’t hear about. Quitting your internship is just something you don’t do. And spoiler alert: I stuck my internship out. Not only because I had signed an apartment lease for the summer in my capitol city. Not only because I had called my parents crying and was told repeatedly that I couldn’t come home. But because if I quit my internship, I knew the consequences were far greater than any anguish I would endure in the next three months.
by Jennifer Elliott, recent Iowa State University graduate and Smithfield Sales & Business Trainee
The journey to my ideal career seemed intimidating at first, but with a little planning and personality, I managed to find the perfect fit for me. My name is Jennifer Elliott, and I am a recent Iowa State University graduate with a degree in Agricultural Communications and a full-time position with Smithfield as a Sales and Business Trainee.
Although I look forward to the adventure that lies ahead in my new position, it’s the journey to my destination that truly amazes me. As the title hints, I found my position, but honestly, I found my passion for Smithfield after my experience with their hog production division this past summer. But the story didn’t start there.
When I was a freshman at Iowa State, it was highly encouraged to attend the fall career fair. As I walked my first lap at the fair, I noticed the Smithfield booth. As my small hometown in Illinois is home to one of their many packing plants, I thought there would be no better way to break my jitters than talking with one of their representatives. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with the Smithfield associate, discussing the company’s purpose, structure and even how they directly impacted my community. As they weren’t looking for freshmen interns, we parted ways, but promising to keep in touch and say hello when they were visiting campus.
It’s a hot topic. News outlets write about it, financial experts blog about it, parents lose sleep over it and presidential candidates use their campaign speeches to tout their plans to change it. I’m talking about the cost of higher education. According to The College Board, the average projected increase for the next fifteen years is 5% annually. That could result in a near $40,000 increase in the cost of a four-year degree between now and the year 2035. Did you recently have a baby? If so might want to let that sink in.
While I am not a presidential candidate, sorry this isn’t my stump speech for reducing the cost of education, I do have a suggestion for best utilizing those dollars that I wish more college students would take advantage of. Over the past eleven years, AgCareers.com has offered a survey for our clients to help them collect feedback from their interns and benchmark their internship program success and shortcomings against others in the industry. In that time frame, we’ve collected responses from nearly 5,600 students. The insight into the mind of young interns is both eye-opening, humorous and scary and provides some interesting awareness into the minds of our future co-workers. There is a question in this survey that I’m always eager to analyze. Did you receive class credit for completing this internship? The chart below shows the responses to that question over the history of the survey.
For those individuals who are not involved in agriculture, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of agriculture is farming, ranches and animals. According to a 2013 survey conducted by AgCareers.com, 44% of the general public views agricultural careers as hard work with little pay and 39% feel that little education is needed to pursue an agricultural career.
We know that careers in agriculture are not only diverse but rewarding. There is more to it than just farming, ranches and animals. Just like every other industry out there, agriculture cannot run without sales and marketing staff, numerous support staff and those working in the field every single day.
This is a very exciting industry to be a part of. Each year, equipment manufacturers are designing new machinery to help farmers work more land, seed companies are working with better technology to increase the viability of seed and environmentalists are working to make sure the land is used in the most sustainable way. And these are not the only sectors found in agriculture. If you are a student still considering career fields, one way to explore the agricultural industry is by participating in an agriculture internship.
by Victoria Price, 2015 AgCareers.com Marketing Intern
“A summer is only as productive or unproductive as you make it,” said Megan Grant, a sophomore at the University of Florida (UF). If you aren’t interning, as is typical for many college students during the summer, there are still many options to make your summer productive and beneficial for your future.
Work a summer job to save and make money while gaining work experience. Food, retail, summer camps, or any job involving customer service provides valuable skills for any career. People skills will make you stand out as a candidate. Alexandra Steele, a junior at UF, has worked different jobs each summer since high school. “I think they have been very beneficial because even though they haven’t been something that I’d want to make a career out of, these jobs have taught me life skills and good work ethic for the future,” she said. “They helped me narrow down my decisions on my career path.”
Take summer classes to get ahead or take some extra time to do well in a challenging course. For students in the STEM field, this is a great option in the summer to focus on courses that would be tougher to balance in the fall or spring. Summer school also allows students to remain active in school organizations and help recruit incoming freshman. Haley Shavemaker, a sophomore at UF, said that she is ahead of schedule with her courses. She can now have a lighter course load for the fall and spring semesters and pursue and enjoy more college activities.
Are you a college/university, or maybe even high school student, employed in some capacity with a company this summer? Did you know there are a couple different classifications for the type of work you’re doing? You could have a summer work experience, an internship or a co-op (Cooperative Education Experience).
Often the definition of each of these becomes blurred in the mind of the student and well as the employer. Defining your experience can be impactful on your resume, any academic credit you’re applying for, and not to mention you and your employer’s expectations for the summer.
The exact definition of the experience can also have an impact on the type of pay you receive and how your employer keeps important employment records about you in their system. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) provides employers with an exact definition and overview of what an internship is on their website at this link.
As I am often asked to help employers in the agriculture sector develop an internship program, I’ve created the following definition, specific to our industry, to explain the difference between the three. Note: There are additional criteria that determine the differences between each of these experiences; the following statements simply provide a broad overview of how the experience is structured.