Feed The Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics – Malerie Strahm

Have you ever heard of an on-campus job turned internship? When I took a part-time job with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics in January 2015, I never would have believed how far it would bring me. What started out as doing odd communications jobs here and there for the lab turned into bigger jobs and some of the best experiences I’ve had so far!

The Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics is one of four Feed the Future labs housed here at K-State. I was hired to bring a communications aspect to the group and develop social media like some of the other labs had done already. Then, when I talked to my supervisor and academic advisor about doing a full-time internship over the summer, they said ‘Why not?’

Unique is one way to describe my experience. Unlike most internships, it felt more like an entry-level job rather than an internship, as I didn’t have much professional guidance at first. I feel like that really gave me an opportunity to grow by making me reach out beyond the office and figure things out for myself. It was also unique because I was able to work part-time for the new Wheat Genetics Resource Center Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (WGRCI/UCRC). Both Organizations share information and overlap with much of their research.

My main responsibilities for the Innovation Lab included writing press releases, developing print materials and posters, filming a short overview video, maintaining the two lab websites, and developing social media (Facebook and Twitter). For the WGRCI/UCRC I developed and implemented a new logo and color scheme for the organization and designed a poster and flyer to use at events. I also developed a new website using the K-State web server that was easier on the eyes and to navigate.

Seeing the work I’ve done go to places like Washington, DC and receiving emails that my work has been in the hands of people like senator Jerry Moran has definitely been a rewarding and a favorite part of my internship.  Although not having a supervisor well versed in the world of communications was at times a challenge, I know that the experience I gained was valuable.

Much of my work in this internship was design-based because I was given jobs according to my skills and I was able to grow those skills. My future plans include a possible job opportunity connected to this internship that would give me even more experience in graphic design.

As you can see, this internship was a special case but the lab is hiring a new intern for the summer and would like that intern to continue in the fall. I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in general communications because you will do a little bit of everything! You can also tailor it to meet your skill set and interest. To apply, email our program coordinator Haley Ahlers at halhlers@ksu.edu.

Kansas Wheat – Audrey Schmitz

Once a Wheatie, always a Wheatie! Who wouldn’t love to work in an office that smelled like fresh baked bread every day or a snack cubicle that is always stocked with donuts?

My summer internship at Kansas Wheat was definitely one for the books. I never imagined I would learn as much as I did or gain the experiences or mentors I had. The office environment at Kansas Wheat was so welcoming and entertaining with a fun side of pranks and inside jokes.

As the communications intern for Kansas Wheat I spent the past 11 months managing and designing the Rediscover Wheat monthly magazine. My duties included writing feature stories about wheat producers and bakers, press releases about events and new hires, and reports on policy, wheat diseases and harvest.

I assisted with e-newsletters using ConstantContact, uploading news content to the Kansas Wheat and National Festival of Breads websites and recording radio spots. I collaborated with co-workers in planning the 2015 National Festival of Breads and the Kansas Wheat Alliance summer meeting and created promotional banners, signs, and programs for the events.

The biggest skill I learned as their intern was how to navigate InDesign and Illustrator by using the programs daily. Equally, I learned more about writing feature stories and personality profiles. Email marketing, Adobe audio and iMovie were also a few new skills I tried out.

Through my many activities at Kansas Wheat I have grown as a writer, designer and overall communicator. I believe that my experience in this internship will allow me to bring many valuable skills to future assignments, internships and jobs. I am eager to continue using my abilities to contribute communications team.

My biggest area of growth that I realized about myself was my ability to work independently with minimal supervision. I also recognized my ability to communicate effectively with my employer by listening and relaying accurate information in my work and what they envisioned.

The reason why my mentors were so great at Kansas Wheat was because they would ask me if there was anything I felt I hadn’t learned or done yet that they could teach me. I truly felt like I could ask them anything no matter how small the question or if I didn’t know how to do something.

I heard about this internship via an email that my advisor Dr. Ellis sent out over the listserve. I knew Nicole Lane had interned there previously and I really looked up too her as a role model because she had a wealth of knowledge and organization. I figured she had gained those skills from her Kansas Wheat internship.

I worked from right after spring break till the end of February the following year. Because I loved my internship so much after working there over the summer I decided to stay and continue working there throughout the semester part time. Because I was learning so many applicable communications skills while working there and I missed the people I was working with I stayed.

I would recommend this internship to anyone. There are so many skills to learn here and great people to work with. I would especially recommend it to those who want to write about crops and wheat or are also minoring in Agronomy. To apply the application comes out during the spring semesters before spring break. If you have questions about the internship contact Marsha Boswell at mboswell@kswheat.com.

K-State Radio Network, Agriculture Today – Charlsie Craig

This past summer I served as the broadcast intern with Agriculture Today over the K-State Radio Network. This station is based out of Manhattan, Kan.

Agriculture Today is a broadcast show aired every week day at 10 a.m. The show is aired on KFRM 550 and live streamed on K-State Research and Extension wed page. The show, can reach not only to Kansas but surrounding states and with the live stream all across the United States. I work under the main broadcaster, Eric Atkinson.

The main purpose of this broadcast show is to keep producers, farmers, or advocates of agriculture in the know of what research and big things are happening in the world of agriculture. The show covers subjects that are spread all of agriculture from crops to Ag in the Classroom.

For the first couple of weeks it was a quick learning experiences of just learning how to edit material on Adobe Audition and learning how to set up the program to be aired. Although I was just getting my feet wet, within those first few weeks Atkinson ask me to contact someone for my first interview.

I thought that I wasn’t ready for my first experience, but Atkinson thought I was, and of course he was right. Currently I’m now up to doing five to six interviews a week but every time I still get the butterflies.

As the summer went on I had my first traveling experience at 2015 Kansas State FFA Conference. This experience brought a lot of first such as, using a hand held microphone and recorder. Also, I had the pleasure of being back stage during the last session when they announced the new state officers. My purpose of this event was to interview the winners of Kansas Star in Agribusiness and Farmer, and the new state officers. This was a very intense upbeat environment that I wasn’t use to. It ended up being a great experience and it made me realize how much I love broadcasting.

While realizing I liked that experience, at the station, my duties were routine. But I mean routine in the sense of having to conduct interviews. Every interview is different and the interviewee is always different. This internship has taught me many things and one of which is don’t be shy. When I listen to my interview at the beginning of summer compared to the end you can hear how by the end of the summer my interviews started to feel more relaxed and conversational. Every week I have to produce two network pieces that will be placed on the website for stations to use throughout the week. This piece can only be three minutes. Although it sounds easy sometimes it can be and sometimes you get 15 minute interviews that holds a lot of information. This experience taught me to utilize my time correctly.

Throughout the summer I learned many things but the two most important ones were deadlines and time management. In this communications industry time is based on time, wither that being interviews or producing a piece so it’s ready for the next show. Nothing has been more rewarding then having people call me telling me they heard me on the radio and ask me more questions about the interview. It gave me a humbling feeling of significance.

Atkinson has been a great mentor. I have learned so much from him and the staff at Agriculture Today. Atkinson brings a sense of importance and achievement on every broadcast show. Agriculture has a long road ahead of it and its people like him advocating it to help mend it together.

K-State Department of Plant Pathology – Lindsey Ashmore

Agriculture based communication was a great choice for me as an individual. I describe my career path as the endless possibilities career path. Generally students don’t go to college to graduate and still not know what they are going to do in life but, with the Agricultural Communications and Journalism degree in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University, you can do that with confidence!

For my summer internship, the responsibilities of my current job were increased and expanded. I am a student communications specialist under the supervision of James Stack PhD, at Kansas State University’s award winning Department of Plant Pathology.

The responsibilities are not concrete in this position, but they do accrue over time. Some examples are:

  • Social media management
  • Website building/management
  • Photography/Videography
  • International communication
  • Event planning
  • Journalism
  • Print creation
  • Lab work

When I started my internship this summer I had no idea what would further be instore for me. My very first day, I was thrown into a planning committee for a one-week international course to be held at the Biosecurity Research Institute Pat Roberts Hall at Kansas State University. The course would start in one week. It was my responsibility to catch up, and begin to contribute substantially. I was asked to create the attendee binders, be a chauffeur, tour guide, photographer, videographer, interviewer, communicator, hostess and more.

Post-global course, I was required to pool the material from the course and create a private website for attendees to visit and review. I was extremely proud to learn the cover of the attendee binder was showcased at a presentation given by the dean of the College of Agriculture.

Aside from the global course tasks, I was also required to keep up with the daily tasks. Before one of the lead researchers travelled to South America, I created social media business cards to help spread awareness about the wheat blast social media campaign. I then monitored the social media analytics compared to his location.

My supervisor and lab members travelled globally this summer leaving me with a good amount of alone time. It was spent planning and creating material for them to review and critique when they returned. I even created a surprise video for the lab group. Many of the videos I created were shown as the lab members travelled and even at the USDA headquarters!

This internship pushed me harder than any other communication position yet. I loved having the ability to step out of my communicator role at random times, and I loved being trusted to make things flow smooth. I was surrounded my amazing individuals with incredible passion for what they do. I learned about many cultures and how to interact with them. Most of all, I gained an experience worth looking back on and being proud!


American Angus Association – Sarah Harris

I interned this summer with the American Angus Association as the communications and public relations intern. The application process was very fast paced and I was not sure what to expect when I got to Saint Joseph for the first day.

The original deadline to apply for this internship was March 1, and though I had thought about applying I did not get an application turned in. Luckily, a few weeks after the deadline Dr. Ellis forwarded an email from Jena McRell at the American Angus Association looking for more applicants for the position. I jumped at the missed opportunity and sent in my resume, cover letter, and two writing samples on March 23. I was amazed to get a reply the next morning — then set up a phone interview for March 25. I traveled to the Association headquarters in Saint Joseph, Missouri for an interview on April 2.

A few days after the interview in Missouri I was offered the position and accepted. A few short weeks later, I packed up and headed to Saint Joseph for the summer. My internship lasted from May 18 to August 13, and was packed with a ton of experiences in a very short time.

Day one I was given a handful of assignments to start working on including putting together a media kit for the National Junior Angus Show, media releases to write and some design projects. It was almost overwhelming. I had never written a news release and I got lost looking for the office where I was conducting an interview; however, I did learn the layout of the Association building very quickly.

The American Angus Association was host to six interns this summer in different areas of focus — The Angus Journal, Angus Genetics Inc., events and activities, and Angus Media. I feel like I had one of the best experiences, as I was able to work in every area rather than just one. Going into the summer I was not sure what I wanted to do with my degree in when I graduate in December, but my experiences with the American Angus Association have given me a better direction.

My favorite part of the summer was by far working with the production team for The Angus Report. I got to experience everything from running the teleprompter to writing scripts for the show. It was very fulfilling to see videos that I had shot and interviews that I had cut be used for an actual television show.

Throughout the duration of my internship there was never a dull moment and the workload never slowed down, which made the summer fly by. The National Junior Angus Show in July was another one of my favorite parts of the experience. A majority of the work I had done in the summer was leading up to the show and it was inspiring to see everything come together. In addition to seeing my designs displayed around the show ring, barns and printed in the show book, I was able to get a years worth of experience in one week. While at the show in Tulsa, Okla., I gained experience with social media coverage, news releases on winners and events, video interviews to be used for The Angus Report television show, photography, and writing personal interest stories.

I would recommend this internship to everyone — especially those who are not sure of what path in communications they want to go down. This internship gives you experience in writing, design, photography, videography and social media management along with a chance to travel to shows, farms and ranches. I learned so much and cannot express how blessed I was to have this experience with the American Angus Association.

American AgCredit – Jackie Newland

This summer I had the opportunity to be the communications and marketing intern for American AgCredit. I was located in their Heartland Region in Wichita, Kansas. American AgCredit is an Ag lending bank and part of the Farm Credit system. My internship started on June 1st and ended on August 14th. While I was there, I was given a variety of tasks. These tasks would range from everyday office work to helping create a marketing plan for the upcoming year. I was also in charge of finalizing ads to be sent out to local fairs, coordinating various events, and speaking with numerous customers in both person and over the phone.

I first heard about this internship at K-State’s All University Career Fair. My situation was unique because I did not meet the requirements for this job, and I also did not originally apply for this job. Usually, American AgCredit is looking for individuals with a major in agricultural finance or agricultural economics. I had stopped by their booth at the career fair and just started talking to the lady representing it. Little did I know, that lady, Jennie Bracken, would be my future boss. I had apparently made a good impression because about a week later I received an email about participating in a behavioral based interview with them. After that, I did a formal interview and actually filled out the job application. Less than a week after my formal interview, I was offered the position. It just goes to show that you never know who you are going to meet, so always make a good first impression.

My internship definitely helped me learn more about my working style. I learned that I like to be given tasks, but then be left with my own creative freedom. As long as I have a general outline, I like to then make a project my own. I also learned that it is okay to ask questions. As an intern, asking questions is one of the biggest components of your job; if you aren’t asking questions, you aren’t learning.

The best part of my internship was the amount of traveling that I was able to do. My second week into the internship, I was flown to our headquarters in Santa Rosa, California for intern training. While there, I was able to experience a large variety of agriculture, from vegetables, to almonds (which they pronounce as “aamends,” extra emphasis on the ‘a’), to vineyards, and more. I was given more information during those two weeks than I ever thought was possible. After that I traveled to Greeley, Colorado where another branch of American AgCredit’s is located. It was an unforgettable experience to learn how diverse this company is.

My least favorite part of the experience was probably when it ended. I had gotten so used to 40 hour work weeks within those few months that I was not ready to enter back in to a full course load. All good things come to an end though, and I am just thankful for the time that I had there. Getting used to that type of routine and number of hours has helped me prepare for what life will be like after college.

This job has certainly given me skills that I will utilize no matter where I am. I have expanded my knowledge of marketing, which is an area that I had previously not had a lot of experience in. I have learned how to be more independent and accountable for my work. I have also learned how to work under strict deadlines. Above all, I was shown how far doing your best and submitting good work can go in a person’s life. Overall this internship has given me the tools to be successful in my future endeavors.

If you are interested in applying for this internship I recommend applying on their website at: https://agloan.csod.com/ats/careersite/search.aspx?site=6&c=agloan.

I would recommend this internship to anyone within agricultural communications. It helps if you also have an interest in agriculture lending or appraisal. I would also recommend this internship to anyone with a background in agricultural economics, agricultural finance or business. Each year the company takes two interns, and one of those interns could be you.

Kansas Department of Agriculture – Emily Writer

This past summer, following my junior year at K-State, I worked at the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) as a communications intern in Manhattan, Kansas.

KDA is a state agency that strives to serve farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses through its programs and divisions. Being on the communications team gave me the opportunity to develop my skills and expand my knowledge by working on a variety of projects.

When I started my internship, I had experience using the Adobe Creative Suite, some knowledge of how to write press releases, and no experience managing social media accounts for anyone but myself. Now that I have spent four months working for KDA, I am very comfortable using Adobe, can easily put together a press release, and I am still responsible for creating social media content.

The thing I respected most about being an intern is that from day one, my boss put trust in me and handed me responsibilities, including social media. While this definitely made me nervous, it forced me out of my comfort zone and became one of the most rewarding parts of my job. There’s nothing that beats the feeling of seeing your work shared because only you know the time and energy that went into creating it.

In addition to creating social media content, I also wrote press releases and designed handouts to be used by various programs. Like social media, these tasks allowed me to gain a lot of experience and helped me develop my skills even further.

Being an intern at KDA has been a great experience and I have learned so much, not only about agriculture and communicating, but also about myself. I’ve learned to trust in myself and my abilities, and I’ve learned that I am capable. Sure, I made mistakes, but I was able to learn from them, and that’s what’s important.

If you’re interested in working in a fun environment with people who are passionate about agriculture and will push you out of your comfort zone to help you become a better communicator, then you should consider applying to be an intern at KDA. Internships are available year round and KDA is a great place to work during both the summer and the school year as it is conveniently located close to campus.

The internship is offered through the Governor’s Office Internship Program, which you can learn more about here.