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.

Kansas Electric Cooperatives- Kennedy St. George

As a second year student at K-State, I never would have guessed that such an incredible experience would have come my way. I had the opportunity to intern with Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., from October 2013 through May of 2014.

Kansas Electric Cooperatives (KEC) is the statewide service organization for the rural electric cooperatives in Kansas. Formed in 1941, KEC represents the interests of our members which includes 29 distributive cooperatives and three generation and transmission electric co-ops. Located in Topeka, I commuted four days a week from Manhattan to be in the office. I also had the opportunity to see different parts of the state and worked from home some days as well.

I heard about the internship possibility after visiting the all university career fair in the fall and was hired on in October, after an internship with the State Fair of Texas. I was drawn to the internship due to the aspect of the magazine that was published and my interest in writing for a publication. Each month KEC and the communications team turns out Kansas Country Living magazine that has a circulation of 122,000 households.

Aside from the magazine, I was guaranteed a well rounded experience and I was not let down by that promise at all. My internship duties included writing for the magazine, as well as the newsletter, Rural Power, photography, and design; however, I got a lot more than that. I also had the opportunity to do event planning, advertisement sales, company representative at career shows and member annual meetings for our cooperatives across the state, interviewer for youth tour participants, and so much more. I had only opened Adobe suit once prior to this experience and now I have it on my personal computer and use it somewhere once a day.

My writings included feature stories, interview recaps, statewide news, legal issues that our members needed to know about, and even monthly book reviews. Each month I had the opportunity to layout and design cooperative specific centerspreads that are inserted into the magazine. I learned the value to deadlines when my direct supervisor was on maternity leave for two magazines!

A photo I took was even used on the cover of February 2014’s magazine! I took a lot of pictures for covers and of events that the cooperatives held across the state for their members. The photos were then used for projects either at KEC for the statewide or within the cooperatives centerspreads. Through my photography, I was able to learn more about Photoshop and had many projects to utilize what I learned. Trying to do a cover of KCL was my favorite thing to do in Photoshop.

I got a well-rounded experience and a lot of pieces to build my portfolio with my time at KEC. I have truly enjoyed the sense of community for the members we work for and this summer I will be headed to Dodge City for the communications specialist intern position with Victory Electric, one of the members that I help now through the state wide.

The professionalism and the skills that I acquired through my internship really set in stone for me that I enjoy working for a publication, working on deadline, and really do enjoy writing as much as I thought I had.

I cannot wait to see where this degree leads me in the future, but for now I couldn’t be more pleased for the opportunities that have been presented to me from the internship with Shana Read, Carrie Kimberlin, and the rest of the staff at Kansas Electric Cooperatives. 

American Agricultural Editors Association Internship- Bethany Sanderson

I was the intern for the American Agricultural Editors Association, an organization made up a variety of ag communicators from writers and editors to photographers and public relations professionals. This year, AAEA chose Living the Country Life, a publication of the Meredith Corporation, to host the internship.

The Meredith Corporation is home to 14 leading magazine brands, including Better Homes and Garden, Ladies’ Home Journal and Midwest Living, and more than 175 special interest publications. They are involved with syndicated television and air in 50 markets nationwide. They are also active in broadband television, with more than one million video plays per month. A large section of the corporation is also devoted to integrated marketing. They have developed relationships with leading retailers like Walmart and Home Depot to promote Meredith brands and products, in addition to offering integrated marketing services to leading brands such as Kraft, Century21, Chrysler, Jonson & Johnson, DirecTV and more.

Living the Country Life, where I primarily worked, is a smaller publication that was launched in 2001 from Successful Farming. Instead of focusing on production agriculture, Living the Country Life focuses on people who live in the country simply to enjoy a rural lifestyle. They tend to be affluent and have a combined annual buying power of more than $32 billion.

Living the Country Life is a good example of a brand that has embraced the multimedia world consumers now interact with. In addition to the magazine, which is published quarterly with a circulation of 200,000, it has a website, e-newsletters, daily radio programs and until recently, a television program. The editor, Betsy Freese, also has a blog that she updates daily, and she manages Facebook and Twitter accounts for the brand.

The majority of my time at Living the Country Life was spent providing content for the fall issues of the magazine. I produced four stories for the issue, including the cover story on horse and stock trailers. I also worked on providing additional content for the beef cattle section of the website that is sponsored by Purina. I wrote and compiled a slideshow based on Beef Quality Assurance’s code of cattle care. Other beef stories I wrote are being held back in the “story bank” for another magazine issue, after which time Betsy may choose to post them on the website as well.

Although I did not have the time or opportunity to experiment with radio programming, I did participate in brainstorming sessions as the radio editors put together the calendar of topics for the upcoming fiscal year. They recorded programs based on several of my ideas.

As the AAEA intern, I had responsibilities related to Ag Media Summit as well. I was primarily responsible for the joint awards ceremony between AAEA and the Livestock Publications Council. I put together the script for those presenting awards and created the PowerPoint presentation for the ceremony This project required participation several days prior to leaving for the conference and also took up a significant amount of my time at the conference.

I also helped with decorating, registration, moderating sessions, putting up signs and other tasks at the conference as needed.

I enjoyed seeing first hand at Living the Country Life the reality of convergent media in the workplace today. While I hear about convergent media in the classroom a lot, it was exciting to see how this played out every day at the magazine.

It also served as a good introduction for me to using social media for professional and business purposes I watched Betsy Freese’s Facebook posts and tweets and had conversations with her about her philosophy of using social media to promote the brand. While she felt the purpose of social media was to drive traffic to their main website, she knew that limiting herself to only sharing links to their website would decrease her fans and following. Her posts and tweets were more balanced, sharing other news or sometimes a personal post about her life in the country, in addition to direction traffic to the website.

The most important takeaway for me, however, was the delicate balance of advertising and editorial content. While I knew in theory that advertising paid for magazines, I had no idea how much thought must go in to providing content that readers will enjoy and that keeps advertisers happy. This is a particular issue at Living the Country Life because it is a free magazine. All of their revenue comes from ad sales.

The publishing industry today is more than just writing stories and selling ads. The sales and editorial teams at the magazine work together to come up with an editorial calendar that they believe is optimal to sell ads (and thus pay for the magazine) to satisfy readers.

I enjoyed the experience in the publishing industry. If I decide to pursue a career in that direction, I definitely plan to look for a job that incorporates multimedia the way Living the Country Life does. I am also open to exploring the public relations industry or integrated marketing jobs similar to what Meredith offers.