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.”

American Hereford Association- Amanda Sales

It was to be the first real job I’ve ever had, dependent upon using programs I was merely an amateur at. Sounds scary, right? That may be how my summer at the American Hereford Association felt at first, but that isn’t how it ended. I would not have traded my internship experience aboard the staff of Creative Services/Hereford Publications, Inc. for any other summer adventure.

My interning journey began June 2nd and wrapped up August 20th. In those two-and-a-half months, I learned a lot of valuable communication skills, but more importantly, I discovered a lot of insight about my future career plans. Working in Creative Services, I coordinated the creation and production of a wide range of promotional materials and catalogs for cattle (and elk) ranches. This involved using Adobe InDesign for layout and even a little design of my own, communicating preferences with clients, and also using Photoshop and Illustrator to assist in the design. Previous to this summer, I knew just as much about my future career as the next person. Then I fell in love with the kind of work I did and, using my creativity and critical thinking skills, I knew by the end of the summer that this was exactly the line of work I want to pursue.

The biggest personal progress I saw during my adventure was understanding and using the Adobe programs. Without AGCOM210 (Principles of Layout and Design) on my transcript, I wasn’t sure how easily I would adapt. Luckily the tutorials and guided use in our slow periods at work gave me a solid foundation of the Adobe cloud.

Along with the skills attained this summer, there were a lot of exciting events that took place. I really loved traveling to the Junior National Hereford Expo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The purpose of my attendance was labeling photos for the photographer to have them uploaded to the website and ordering shop. Though I worked long hours, it was exhilarating to be around the show atmosphere. I had never attended a national show before, so it was all so new to see the proceedings of the show life. A lot of neat things happened right at our office too. The AHA office is stationed right next to the big convention center in downtown Kansas City, where a lot of things occurred this summer. There was the National Skills USA Competition, Ramadan and President Barack Obama’s arrival, but by far the neatest part was when the American Idol auditions were in town. The day the judges came, our office took the lunch hour to stand outside for the arrival of J-Lo, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. (Look for me on television!)

Even with all of the excitement happening, there were still a few things I would have wanted different. I mentioned earlier my experience pushed me to a conclusion about my future career, though I also want to incorporate more than desk work into my upcoming career. My internship was solely desk and computer work, which doesn’t entirely suit my personality. I want to be out moving around, maybe capturing my own photos for any print work I do in the future.

I am thankful for all the time spent at the Hereford Association this summer and all the staff I worked with and I believe I can owe this whole great opportunity to knowing the right people. My boss for the summer is someone I have known through county 4-H for many years, and she has been giving me helpful tips about Ag Communications since I announced it was my intended study pursuit. She encouraged me to job shadow at the office prior to college, and I did just that. Two summers ago, I went in for a day and met everyone and learned what the office was like. I think it helped tremendously for my internship interview, which was by phone, because they all had a face to put with my name and a previous encounter to judge my assimilation to the office.

If you are looking for an internship that works extensively with design, you are good at communicating ideas with clients, you have a background in the beef industry, and you want to learn a wide variety of basic communication skills, I recommend this internship for you. Be looking out for the application next February!

Huncovsky Marketing Internship- Shelbi Stous

My internship was with Huncovsky Marketing began in September 2012 at the Kansas State Fair taking backdrop and candid photos at the livestock show. The following month, the company hired me again to shoot photos at the Kansas Junior Livestock Show in Wichita.

Huncovsky Marketing is owned by Quint Huncovsky and located in Manhattan. It’s a small business with 2-3 part time employees, and the office is located out of Quint’s home. Huncovsky Marketing is a full-service marketing firm specializing in agricultural products, mainly livestock. Services include email advertising, print media and digital media. Most business comes from cattle sale catalogs, email blasts, advertisement design, sale photos and sale videos.

My role with Huncovsky Marketing varies depending on what needs to be done. During the winter months when ranches are preparing for sales, I help photograph and video the cattle that will be sold. For example, last winter River Creek Farms hired Quint to take the photos and videos for their sale. Quint and I went to the ranch and set up a picture and video pen to shoot in. Each head of cattle is run through the pen individually. Sometimes my job would be to ensure the cattle calmly walked the fence line and then turn them around when they reach the end, or stop in a certain way that makes them look good for the picture. This sounds boring, but it’s actually a very tiring and difficult job. Sometimes there are 100 head of cattle we have to get through in a day, and not all of them cooperate. (I’ve only had to jump up on the fence twice to avoid being ran over by an upset heifer or bull.) Other times, I get to be behind the video camera and shoot the footage of the cattle. There are many details in taking photos and videos to ensure the cattle look their best so they look attractive to the people interested in purchasing them. After the shooting process, the videos need edited and published. Even if I don’t go out to the ranches to shoot, Quint still gives me the videos to edit. Each animal has an individual YouTube video anywhere between 20 seconds and one minute and 30 seconds and includes the ranch’s logo and the lot number for that specific animal.

For sale catalogs, my main responsibility is gathering pedigree information and EPD’s for the cattle. The ranch provides us registration information for each head, and the breed association website provides the individual information for each animal. Each animal that will be sold in the sale will have its own information in the catalog.

I found out about this internship through a friend who had also done some work for Quint. Because I worked hard at the two shows, he continued to ask me to work for him. I am very glad that I was able to work for Huncovsky Marketing because I discovered that livestock marketing is what I want to do in my future. I would like to work for Quint full-time someday, but right now he is not expanding the business enough to hire someone full-time. He hopes to expand in the next three or four years, but he has mentioned eventually bringing me on the team full-time. Not only did I realize that livestock marketing is what I really enjoy doing, but I gained livestock handling skills also. People may be hard to work with, but at least you can verbally tell them what you need them to do and they (should be able to) understand you. With livestock, you can tell them all you want, but they won’t understand. I’ve gained a lot of patience and understanding with these animals, especially cattle. I also learned valuable customer relation skills. Word of mouth is a strong way to gain business, and ranchers like to talk. For example, it’s great to do business with someone such as taking photos for their sale catalog, but if you can actually attend their sale, it shows that you not only care about your business, but you care about their business too. They probably will be happy and impressed that you attended the sale, and might continue to do business with you in the future and recommend you to other ranchers.

Like any industry, the livestock world has its trends. Some trends fade out, and some last for a very long time. After I started working for Quint, I was exposed more to the livestock world. I even got a job at one of the university’s animal units to gain more experience with cattle. I started to see more and more trends and ideas that people had, and could figure out if others were going to follow. There have been good trends and bad ones, but the good ones are really good, and the people who paved the way are greatly benefiting from it. I have learned to not be scared to lead the way in an industry. We shouldn’t be scared to try new ideas because they might take off and become more popular than anyone would have thought. Of course, it’s always good to think an idea through all the way and develop it fully before just throwing it out there.

Overall, my internship with Huncovsky Marketing has been a wonderful experience. I hope to return to Manhattan in a few years and work for him full-time. As much as I complained about the cold, windy and muddy picture pen, I will really miss going out to ranches to take photos and videos this winter!

Certified Angus Beef Internship- Wyatt Bechtel

For my internship I worked with Certified Angus Beef with their Industry Information Division as a writing intern. CAB is a branded beef program that helps promote beef produced by Angus cattle. The brand is owned by approximately 30,000 American Angus Association members and was established in 1978 by several Ohio cattlemen. The organization has maintained its roots in Ohio by having the headquarters in Wooster.

With the Industry Information Division the purpose is to inform producers about management techniques or new research that will aid them in meeting the parameters of CAB’s program. My supervisor was the director of the division, Steve Suther, who is based out of Onaga, Kansas. Much of my correspondence with Steven for stories or other assignments was via email. Miranda Reiman was another member of the Industry Information team who sent me work, and on certain occasions Laura Nelson would have assignments for me too. Miranda is based out of her home in Cozard, Nebraska, and Laura works in the main office in Wooster. During my internship I worked at the Supply Development Office in Manhattan.

I worked from May 16 to July 28, and I have also done some work with CAB during the school year on a freelance basis. Each week I worked approximately 40 hours during the summer and had some overtime here and there. My approximate amount of hours worked would be 450 hours. I had hoped to work some more freelance jobs for CAB during the school year, but the company had several other interns during this time so there was not enough writing to divide between us.

I wrote news releases and feature stories covering research studies, events, and producer profiles. Recording video and audio for stories was another duty I had. During the summer I would take pictures of black hided cattle that looked to have an Angus background when I drove home to Eureka. I would also take pictures of cattle on my ranch on weekends. This was a way for me to help CAB increase their photos of stocker cattle as they had a limited number on hand before my internship. It also allowed me to build up some more hours and hone my photography skills. I even assisted in editing copy on the CAB Partners website, which served as a precursor to much of the website design and editing I would do in the upcoming months.

Learning was a large part of my experience at CAB. While working with the brand, I improved my interviewing skills from trial and error. On a near daily basis I had to engage in phone call interviews with cow-calf producers, feedlot managers, university researchers, and people involved with beef marketing. Doing these calls over the phone was at first difficult for me as I had not done this much prior to working at CAB. However, most of my interactions with the people I interviewed went really well because I tried to make this conversational. I also conducted some interviews in person and via email. Time management was a large part of the internship as I had many different tasks I had to perform and deadlines to meet. It helped that I was required to keep time sheets detailing what I had done which had to be turned in weekly. I took better pictures as I gained more experience with the camera I was assigned. My images went from standard shots of black hided cattle to those with improved lighting and composition.

This was a great internship for me as it joined many forms of media together. My goal is to be involved in agricultural communications with the beef industry and working with CAB is a major boost for my resume. Because I want to work in the beef industry this was a great way to learn about industry from start to finish. I am currently applying for positions and many are requiring writing samples, so having this internship helped me add to my portfolio while also getting published. I really enjoyed my time with CAB and maybe in the future I can work again with their wonderful organization.

DRIVE Livestock Internship- Chelsey Smith

I interned for DRIVE Livestock, a company that was created in 2011. DRIVE recognizes achievement, encourages personal development and educates livestock youth on the opportunities in agriculture through trendy, consistent, accurate and relevant media.

While at DRIVE, I was the social media and events promotions intern. My duties were directly related to DRIVE social media platforms, which drive our content on our website and in our print publication. I created, developed, maintained and managed our social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When the new website was ready for use I started incorporating this social media outlet into my daily routine. The goal for every day was to post on Facebook using an image, tweet about something DRIVE was doing or something related to youth in the stock show industry, as well as post a photo on Instagram. The tough part about creating engagement on our social media outlets is that each outlet reaches or engages with a different demographic audience. In addition to managing our social networking accounts, I was also responsible for formulating and executing contests for our followers to participate in.

Throughout this internship I had an opportunity to learn many skills that I considered to be life essentials that I wasn’t expecting to learn throughout the semester. The work environment at DRIVE was very unique. No one at the company was over the age of 30 and therefore the workplace was very competitive even though no one had to compete for their job to keep it. Working as a team to accomplish a goal for a customer was emphasized but carried out in a unique way.

When I started this internship I was hoping it would help me to determine what I want to do with my future. I do not believe marketing and advertising are in my future, but I have learned a great deal that can be applied to just about any career I may choose. The owner for Encore Visions and DRIVE, Jackie Lackey, made a statement early in my internship, which I had heard before but never fully embraced, “competition is key, life is about whom you know, not what you know.” This internship really taught me that especially in the livestock industry, success is determined from hard work, competition and whom one knows.