Kansas Soybean Association – Dana Schultz

Dana kssoybean

As the summer after my sophomore year quickly approached, I realized my resume was seriously lacking in professional experiences. I needed a summer internship, but I was a little behind. Everyone else was already applying and interviewing for prospective positions. I scoured every website for potential summer internship. I found one on the Career Employment Services website in Topeka, Kansas for the Kansas Soybean Association and Commission. My family grows soybeans and I had a little bit of knowledge on commodity organizations. The post simply stated it was a summer internship with a variety of responsibilities and duties. During the interview, they decided I was the right fit for the position and we set a date for me to start.

One of my major projects was designing and collecting data for the Kansas Congressional Districts report. I used the United States Department of Agriculture’s website to gather statistics about agriculture. These statistics focused on quantity and dollar amounts of crops and livestock raised in the United States. The report was organized to show total production amounts in Kansas, total production amounts for Kansas counties, and where Kansas ranked among other states. The crops recognized were soybeans, corn, wheat, sorghum and sunflowers, and the animal products included beef, pork, milk, wool, and honey. Once I had all the information, I designed graphics and illustrations to display this information. Once designed and thoroughly proofed, I presented the printed and electronic version to Kansas Senators and Representatives in Washington D.C. during the National Biodiesel Conference.

I was also in charge of planning the annual Corporate Tour. Each year, the Commission and Association board members travel to a different part of Kansas to tour local agriculture business and meet area members for a few days. During my internship, McPherson, Kansas, was the destination. I was in charge of contacting caterers, meeting venues, restaurants, businesses, and potential guests. I had to keep accurate records of all communication that took place and report all the options for everyone in the office to vote on. Once the itinerary was finalized, I designed and mailed invitations and personally contacted board members to gather a number of attendees. The trip included a tour of Lindsborg, Kansas, a tour of AgCo in Hesston, Kansas, a tour of McPherson’s oil refinery, a tour of PrairieLand Partners, a tour of the Hesston, Kansas lawn mower factory, a meeting at the McPherson Opera House, meals catered during lunch and dinners at local restaurants.

Among other smaller office duties, I created and mailed the annual Biodiesel Survey, traveled to farm shows to promote soy products, updated the membership data used in presentations, presented a soy products presentation to the Emerging Leaders Academy, and attended various conferences for soy products and biodiesel.

My internship started in May of 2014 and ended in August of 2014. This internship was a great opportunity to meet industry professionals, travel, boost communication skills and sharpen professional abilities. The people I worked with were great at finding the balance between a learning college student and a business professional. They were flexible with me and constantly pushed me to do my absolute best. I learned how to better connect my presentations and designs to the audience and to keep accurate records of communications while planning an event. This is a great internship for anyone who isn’t quite sure where they want to go in the industry. The supervisors easily tailor the internship to build your experience to fit your goals.

To apply for the Kansas Soybean Commission internship, visit http://kansassoybeans.org/forms/ or contact Kenlon Johannes at Johannes@kansassoybeans.org.

United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development – Jacob Pletcher

I interned with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development May 18 through September 30, 2015. Luckily the USDA RD is very flexible with their Pathway Interns, so I had the opportunity to continue my internship during the first month and a half of school.

I learned about this internship through my wonderful mother who works on the business and industry side of USDA RD. The internship fit extremely well into what I wanted to do during the summer and it was geared mostly towards writing rather than design, which is what I was looking for. Another appealing part of the internship was the location: Topeka, Kansas. With the internship being located in Topeka, I was able to commute back and forth from my hometown with both of my parents, which was a blessing and a curse.

During the internship I was able to hone my writing skills with the help of a very understanding supervisor that was willing to give me thorough feedback. I did not know how to write a press release or how to send out a newsletter. However, with the help of my supervisor, I was able to learn and develop vital skills that a communicator needs.

A typical day at the office for me started around 7:30 a.m. where I would mostly write press releases, create inner office and statewide newsletters, design invitations for upcoming USDA workshops, and work on the Kansas USDA RD page. Office interaction was limited, but when the office was able to get together, we had a fun time. All four of the interns planned a social interaction event where we cooked food and played a life-size game of clue. This was a great way to interact with people in the office that I never had a chance to intermingle with.

My favorite part of my internship would definitely have to be the trips I made to grant/loan recipient sites to do success stories. All of the businesses or individuals that receive grants or loans were so grateful for the financing that they received and they opened their doors to pictures and my questions without hesitation. The personal interaction with these people made it easy to write about and highlight their operations.

I would recommend this internship to anyone who is wanting a communications experience that has more writing than design opportunities. I do not know if this internship will be available again next year. Since USDA RD is a federal agency, this internship heavily depends on the budget for the fiscal year. If you are curious about the availability of an internship with USDA RD, please contact Jessica Bowser at 785-271-2701 or Jessica.Bowser@ks.usda.gov.

Senator Jerry Moran Press Internship- Jordan Hildebrand

This last summer, I took the risk of a lifetime when I accepted an internship with Senator Jerry Moran’s office in Washington, D.C.  When I had originally applied for the program I had marked that I was interested in staying in Kansas because I thought it would give me a better shot at getting in. At first, they were interested in letting me do so. If I had stayed in Kansas, I would have been a legislative intern. However, one day in early April, I got an unexpected phone call from Washington, D.C. The Director of Communications for Senator Moran wanted me to move out to D.C. and be their official press intern. Despite being terrified of living in the big city, not knowing anyone or my way around I accepted the opportunity of a lifetime.

Among my daily duties was scouring the Internet for articles that mentioned the Senator. I learned how to utilize RSS feeds, complete a task quickly and efficiently and have a report be consistent. I would also follow the Senator and his press secretary to meetings with Kansans, photograph the meetings and draft social media posts about them. I would also coordinate on the fly the meetings and photo ops that were altered by weather.  This helped me develop quick problem solving skills and memorize the quickest routes through the Capitol and Senate buildings.

Toward the end of the day I would receive PDFs of clips from local Kansas newspapers about the Senator or of stories that the Senator might be interested in. I actually found out that my local bank in my hometown had changed names because of these daily PDFs. I would compile them, send them to staff along with a daily Kansas commodity report, and place the set of papers on the Senator’s desk. The Senator would then read this every night to make sure he was up to date on Kansas items. Some days I would have to gently remind the state offices to send me the clips which taught me how to “nag” in a professional manner that didn’t step on anyone’s toes.  I would also write Media Advisories about Senator Moran’s future visits and make follow up calls with the media outlets we sent them to. Before, I didn’t know what a media advisory was, but I have carried on the practice into several campaigns I have been involved with since (for example Hunger Aid 2013 and the Alpha Zeta Fall Speaker).

Weekly duties included assembling the list of every Kansan who passed through the office, their hometown and the nature of the visit. This information would then be shared in Senator Moran’s weekly newsletter, Kansas Common Sense. I would also give one or two capital tours every week. Sometimes when you walk through the Capitol building, you’ll see nervous looking interns giving tours out of an official tour book. These are not Senator Moran’s interns. We have a special “how to give tours” tour both with an official Congressional tour guide and with our staffers. We have a week to memorize where to go, what to say, commonly asked questions, etc. After that, we give the tour to Kansans who request it by memory. We take this very seriously, and I view it almost like being a cast member at Disney. This may be a person’s only time at the Capitol, so take it seriously and go above and beyond. I actually snuck a tour group out onto the Speaker of the House’s private balcony once. I’m pretty sure this makes me a felon, but what the Capitol Police doesn’t know about me won’t hurt them.

Summer long duties included assembling an archive of national level clips about the Senator (for example, out of The New York Times, POLITICO,, etc.). I also updated the Kansas Press List, which was me calling every media office in Kansas to make sure our records were correct. Most of the time, they were not. I was terrified of making cold calls before this internship. Now, I definitely am not.

Sporadic duties included drafting social media posts not regarding visits, writing press releases, going to official meetings with the Senator, writing an Op-Ed for the Senator, interacting with youth organizations, and other items that would pop up throughout the day. I also got to see the Farm Bill get passed through the Senate in the actual chambers as it was happening. It would have been much cooler if it actually passed through the entire congress, though.

I learned so much because of this internship. It was always my dream to work in D.C., and I accomplished it before I was even 21 years old. I also figured out that politics probably isn’t what I want to be in for the rest of my life. It was fun, but a little too frustrating and fast paced for my taste. I do know for certain that Kansas is very lucky to have both Senator Moran and Senator Roberts representing us. Both are gentlemen who genuinely care about Kansans. Even though graduation is looming and I still don’t have a “life plan”, I do know that I would like to stay in the Mid-West, and the internship was definitely the deciding factor in that. The east coast is a nice place to visit, not to live for me.