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.

Ranch House Designs, Inc. – Melissa Grimmel

What do you do when you’re offered an internship with the company you’ve always dreamed of working for? You kindly accept, click “end” on the Skype call, and jump on your feet to clap and scream with excitement.

I found out about the Ranch House Designs, Inc. Summer Internship from their website at http://www.ranchhousedesigns.com. They also offer fall and spring internships, which consist of social media work, writing and helping with various tasks in the office.

After applying in December 2014, the CEO of RHD, Rachel Cutrer, contacted me to set up a Skype interview. She had noticed my freelance graphic design work through my Facebook, and instead created and offered me another internship to help with graphic design projects. This is a perfect example of the importance of being open minded during interviews – something even better can come out of them! From December to June, I completed my duties as a Design Associate from Kansas.

Once summer break began, I traveled to the RHD office located in Wharton, Texas, which is an hour southwest of Houston…depending on traffic. RHD is a full service marketing and communications agency that serves thousands of clients. Their roots were founded in the agricultural and livestock sector, and they have established a reputation as the leading livestock communications firm worldwide. Today, the agency represents clients from all sectors and industries.

To complete my tasks, I used the Adobe Creative Suite to design promotional materials including logos, print advertisements, business cards, and more for clients primarily in the livestock and agricultural industries. During weeks with heavy workflow, I also worked with clients in other industries.

Being a graphic designer, you learn to read and accept harsh feedback from clients. You get clients that love the logo just as much as you do, are extremely detailed in their feedback and are exceptionally nice. On the downside, you also get the clients that hate the logo you send, are extremely rude in their feedback and do not want to give you a second chance. I have grown thick skin through this internship. Harsh feedback does not hurt my feelings, but it motivates me to create something amazing in the next proof.

RHD has two full-time graphic designers in the office. Being able to work next to them, ask questions, and receive tips and tricks from them improved my work tremendously. They are some of the top designers in the industry, so it was truly an honor to work beside them and receive helpful advice.

RHD was an amazing place to work, with even more amazing coworkers. I did not witness any competition – every coworker is there to encourage and inspire each other. I would recommend this internship to someone who has an interest in graphic design, social media, and the livestock and agricultural industries.

At first, I was nervous to move to South Texas to say the least. At 8 a.m., I would open the front door and my glasses would instantly fog up from the sticky humidity, I had snakes and lizards as pets in my backyard, and I was 23 hours from home where I spent every summer in the past. Instead of dwelling on being far away, I took advantage of this and did a lot of traveling on the weekends. I traveled to Corpus Christi Beach, San Antonio to see the Alamo and River Walk, Houston to eat amazing Mexican food, went shopping at boutiques I usually shop at via online, and even toured V8 Ranch. I loved learning about Texas and visiting places I’ve never been to before.

It is critical to take advantage of the area you live in and to make the best of it. You may miss out on things you do every other summer, but the adventure is well worth it. Go outside of your comfort zone. Brush away the nerves, take a deep breath and just do it! “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Kansas Department of Agriculture – Dandi Thomas

This summer I interned at the Kansas Department of Agriculture as a Communications Intern. I was located in Manhattan, Kansas in the Manhattan office, which allowed me to stay in Manhattan for the summer. I started my internship at the beginning of May and am still holding the position.

I learned about this internship through the agricultural communications and journalism listserv and applied through the Governor’s Internship Program at the beginning of May. I applied for the summer internship, but they also have fall and spring internships as well.

Through college I had the opportunity to have several jobs, each one more pertinent to my major than the next. When I applied for this internship, I felt like it could suit me extremely well and get me moving in the direction I wanted to with my career and resume, more so than the campus jobs I had had in the past.

My internship was directly under Megan Macy, the Director of PR for the agency. My duties included graphic design, website design, social media management and content creation, as well as other communication duties.

In the beginning, I was assigned various projects for other departments at KDA and was told to work with their department heads. This proved to be very challenging for me. Though updating the documents and creating their web pages was fairly easy, teaching and helping the other departments about what communications does was very difficult. I found myself having to explain things many times and had to redo several pages because the communication between the department and myself was clouded and unclear. This first few weeks of my internship taught me a very useful lesson about working with people outside of communications, and how to help them create their vision even if they don’t know how to communicate what they want at first. This lesson will forever stay in my mind, helping me be more dynamic in the workplace.

Through the rest of my internship, I was given a few projects but was given the reins to make those projects what I wanted them to be. My passion is graphic design, so most of my projects were focused around becoming a better designer and creating pieces that can be transformed into other multi-media designs.

Another great experience I was able to have with KDA was the gathering of marketing materials for other departments. I was able to set up appointments with animal breeders and shelters across the state, and travel with Megan to take photographs of animals and facilities. This was a good experience to help me strengthen my photography skills and work with others while shooting photos.

To this date, I have created and worked on over 50 projects for the Kansas Department of Agriculture and have enjoyed the experience thoroughly. The networking connections and experiences that I have been able to have through this internship will be exponentially important to my career.

I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in creating great portfolio pieces and gain experience in social media, designing, and marketing.

Kansas Department of Agriculture – Audrey Green

Why is there so much construction north of the Kansas State University Campus? What could that new, huge building possibly be? The Kansas Department of Agriculture has relocated to Manhattan, providing new opportunities for Kansas agriculturalists and Kansas State University students.

Spending my time in the innovative new building, the fall and spring semesters of my sophomore year I served as a Kansas Department of Agriculture Communications Intern. This internship came to me by way of Dr. Ellis, an Agriculture Communications professor at Kansas State University. After exhibiting interest in the position and receiving an interview, I began my internship at the beginning of September 2014.

“Back to the basics.” The foundation of this internship was to take the basic skills of communications and polish them. I began writing press releases almost immediately and was given feedback to improve my writing skills. Arriving at KDA, I had very limited knowledge of design software. Now, my design repertoire has grown immensely and I feel comfortable in the Adobe Creative Suite applications.

Playing a key role in the organization of Kansas Agriculture Month was by far my favorite part of this internship. A goal I had set for myself before coming to KDA was to network with as many Agriculture Communicators as possible. Meeting with the Agriculture Communicators and Educators group to plan Kansas Agriculture Month fulfilled that goal. With only a few planning meetings, the diverse group was able to advocate for agriculture throughout the month of March. Some of the highlights included: hosting the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive at Dillon’s stores, delivering cookies with customized agriculture statistics to members of the Kansas Legislature, conducting a photography workshop for Kansas agriculture photographers with National Geographic Photographer Jim Richardson and an evening lecture with Jim Richardson that was followed by an in depth agriculture panel.

Planning Kansas Agriculture Month was an eye opening experience. I was able to step into the shoes of an Agriculture Communicator in the real world. Learning responsibility, time management and effective communication, this event helped prepare me a future after graduation.

If I had to choose a least favorite part of my internship at KDA, I would have to rack my brain. Each and every day was filled with new twists and turns, giving a glimpse of what a communications specialist would do. The days I was not as busy, or did not have as many projects to work on, were my least favorite days. In saying that, sometimes a break is nothing to complain about!

Students can be selected for this internship, or other internships at KDA, by applying through the Governor’s Office Internship Program. The program is designed to give high-quality college students real world experience. A link to the program can be found here: https://governor.ks.gov/serving-kansans/internship.

Who would I recommend this internship to? Any student who is passionate about agriculture, driven and willing to put in hard work would be an excellent fit for this position.

KDA has a professional yet fun working environment, and its location is superb for Kansas State University students. Although avoiding the road construction on Manhattan Avenue can be a pain, the valuable experience I received from this internship made the bright orange cones seem much less troublesome.

American Paint Horse Association Internship- Nicole Woods

This summer I interned for the American Paint Horse Association as a Graphic Artist. My internship began in May and ended in August. The final week when applications were being accepted, my laptop crashed and I didn’t have all of the materials that APHA was requesting, however, I still applied.  I was first contacted by Art Vasquez, the Creative Director, and was asked if I’d like to intern with APHA. I accepted the invitation and two weeks later I was off to Fort Worth, TX.

            My first few weeks at APHA were kind of stressful but after I got acclimated from being completely on my own I really started to like my job. I loved that I had creative freedom and was given a clean slate each time I was handed a story that needed to be designed. The process for getting to design was, I would have to check a tray each day and then I would have to go where files were located. Within the file would be all of the necessary pictures and the story for me to import on to the pages. I used InDesign and Photoshop the most, however I was also taught how to do a little bit of web design for their new website.

Most of the designs I did for APHA were for three publications, their racing journal, the Paint Horse Connection and the Paint Horse Journal. These magazines reach about 60-70 thousand people worldwide. This was a great opportunity for me to get work published and seen around the world. Some of my other duties were to assist with internal projects that needed completed. A few designs I made were for the Youth World Show and even some for the Open Amateur World Show. I made flyers, banners and large checks that were given to winners in particular classes at the Youth World Show. I was also in charge of building client ads that went in all three publications.  Some of my favorite projects were building fresh client ads and also making four page spreads. Another thing I liked is I got to work in color, versus like in the newspaper industry everything is mostly in black and white.

While I was at APHA I was also involved with the re-constructing of the company. I was involved with giving my outside opinion about the company and also any changes that I would make if I were in the company. By going to meetings I got to see how different areas of the company worked together to make the company function and complete internal tasks.

What I learned most was how to be a team player. I also feel very blessed because I got to experience something that I have dreamed of since I was a child. Being involved in this company showed me what it would be like to work a full-time job and try and do things outside of work. I also learned that it is important to meet someone more than one time before you start to live with them, even if they are family. I am also glad that I was able to confirm that I have chosen the right career path for me. By working hard and persevering I feel that I was able to complete a task that I was told for a long time that I couldn’t do. That feeling is always rewarding.