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.

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!


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.

IGP Institute- Kelly Hannigan

As I was finishing up my junior year, it was finally starting to dawn on me that graduation was quickly approaching. Agricultural communications had always been my home and I was happy there but I knew that if I wanted to get a head start on my career, I needed to take the first steps in gaining professional experience.

I’m not entirely sure why, but I had always pictured internships as they were portrayed in movies. I assumed I’d be fetching coffee and making copies for eight hours a day, five days a week and if I was lucky, I might be able to write a news release once in a while. Thankfully, my internship at the IGP Institute was nothing like I had initially imagined.

After coming back from Christmas break when my parents so kindly urged me to make a career plan, I began searching the Career and Employment Services job board online. However, I ended up hearing about the IGP Institute communications internship through the ACJ listserv. What drew me to this position was the reputation that the IGP Institute possesses throughout campus. In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was that they did but I knew that they were a very prestigious establishment and the students that had worked there before had wonderful things to say about their time there.

In the spring of 2014, I was offered the communications internship and I am still presently working there as a part-time communications intern and part-time distance education intern. As the communications intern, I was responsible for writing and editing press releases, updating and maintaining the social media platforms and updating the website. As a summer project, the associate director of the IGP Institute, Mark Fowler, also asked me to conduct social media research project to help improve their overall marketing efforts. The research included conducting five focus groups and then later creating a top line report to present to the IGP staff and advisory board members.

It’s incredibly difficult for me to narrow down a specific area that I feel like I’ve grown the most this summer. From a technical standpoint, I was able to refine my writing skills to create professional news releases. As far as personal growth, one of the most rewarding aspects of the internship for me was the involvement with the course participants. I had lived a fairly sheltered life growing up in Strong City, Kan. I had never really been around so many different cultures or experienced first-hand the diversity that the IGP courses had to offer. I think I learned more from the conversations I had with the participants than I ever did in a classroom. The interaction with the participants was by far my favorite part of the internship. I was able to develop networking relationships with industry professionals from not only Kansas, but from around the world.

If I had to choose any one thing that I least enjoyed about my internship at IGP, it would probably be the desk time. I’ve never been the kind to enjoy sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. Luckily, this internship provided many field trip opportunities where I was able to tag along and take photos so I wasn’t always in the office. It did teach me however, that when I look for a job after graduation, I need something that incorporates fieldwork into the communications position.

Taking this internship was easily the best decision I’ve made since attending K-State. I’ve not only grown as a professional, but as a person. I was incredibly lucky to work with such a talented group of people at IGP that were genuinely interested in teaching me. Even the staff members that weren’t involved with the communications department took the time to help me with any questions I had or involve me in each project. I may not have a lot of industry experience, but I do know that the IGP Institute team is one of the best work environments I will ever be in. They were always quick to congratulate me any time a news release was published and always wanted to see each other succeed. Just by being around this incredible group of people, I’ve learned what a professional team truly is.

To apply for internships at the IGP Institute, contact Lisa Moser at lmoser@ksu.edu. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone that wants to get his or her foot in the door with the agricultural industry. Even if you aren’t sure what it is you want to do after graduation, this is a great job to jump in to. There are all aspects of communications incorporated into this position ranging from video editing to creating news releases.