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Communications Intern Experience at Iowa Corn

Posted on October 17, 2014 at 9:59 AM by Iowa Corn

As I sit here debating how to structure my wrap up post on my internship experience, I can’t help but wonder…where to begin? At least some amount of learning is expected of any internship experience; however I am continually amazed by how far I have come in developing my professional skill sets and how much I have learned about the Iowa corn industry in the six months that I have been the Iowa Corn Communications intern. I could make a very long list of the things I have learned during my internship experience, however, here are five suggestions I have for future interns. Being mindful of these following principles completely changed the dynamic of my experience:

1. Ask Questions

I’ve always tried to live by the saying, “You can’t learn if you don’t ask questions.” When I first began my internship, I was terrified that I would ask a “stupid” question and that my co-workers would view me differently if I didn’t know the answer. Instead, I was welcomed by an awesome staff at Iowa Corn that was always attentive and receptive to the questions I asked. I found that it was better to over ask questions I had, than not ask at all.

2. Network, Network, Network
I quickly learned that the agricultural industry is a small world. I was able to make many connections throughout the duration of my internship experience through a variety of events including; the Iowa State Fair, Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series, Corn Congress and much, much more! While I could have stood in the corner and isolated myself from others, I found it to be much more worthwhile (and fun!) to talk to our grower members and consumers alike. I’ve found a new sense of confidence when meeting new people within the industry. By branching out and getting to know others within the industry, I found these connections to be helpful in my pursuit of a full-time job.  

Sarah with the CAT team in Washington D.C. for Corn Congress

3. Be Mindful of your Audience
When I first started my internship, I assumed that most people came from a background similar to mine and had a basic understanding of the Iowa corn industry and its’ impact on our economy. Iowa Corn is unique in that it allowed me to interact with our grower members and consumers. I learned that I needed to be mindful of my audience when interacting because the way I talk to a grower member may not always be an effective way to talk to the average consumer (and vise versa). The field of agriculture has a section of jargon that is entirely its’ own so while speaking with consumers, I needed to make sure I used terms they were familiar with and explain the ones that were not. This skill is transferable in virtually any communications setting, and I am thankful for the exposure this internship provided in this area.

4. Get out of your Comfort Zone
I am extremely guilty of liking to camp out where I’m comfortable. No one likes feeling awkward or out of place, but as soon as I began stepping out of my comfort zone at Iowa Corn, I was very glad I did! Interning with Iowa Corn gave me the confidence and ability to try things I would not have tried in the past. From sampling octopus in Washington D.C. to directing our staff at the Iowa Corn Day at the Iowa State Fair. Throughout the six months I spent at Iowa Corn, I was able to build upon valuable skills that would have otherwise gone unaddressed.

The Iowa Corn Communications team with Kristin Porter from Iowa Girl Eats and Iowa Food and Family Project
5. Have Fun!
While working at Iowa Corn and doing something I loved, I quickly learned that work could be synonymous with fun. My internship experience provided me the opportunity to master the art of having fun while getting things done. My passion for agriculture was truly able to shine through in my work at Iowa Corn and I am extremely thankful to have had this opportunity.

The Iowa Corn Communications team at the Iowa Corn Indy 300
It was apparent to me on my first day on the job the Iowa Corn Staff, Directors and members wanted nothing more than to see me succeed. However, it was their willingness to help me succeed that really set them apart.

I highly recommend this internship to college students pursuing degrees in agriculture, you won’t regret it! Thank you Iowa Corn for continuing to provide these internship experiences that help prepare students for the professional world that simply cannot be duplicated in the classroom setting. I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to intern with your organization. I cannot wait to see what the future brings as I begin using the skills and life lessons I learned during my internship!   

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