By Alexis Larson, U of M Junior
As a student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities studying Agricultural Communication and Marketing, the thought of finding my first internship was overwhelming. I knew that I wanted a great experience with excellent learning opportunities that would allow me to determine the direction for my professional career goals. I also wanted this internship to provide me with a great networking source for future career options.
I was sent an application for a Youth Development Intern through the University of Minnesota Extension 4-H Program. Ultimately, it sounded right down my alley as I had previous experience in 4-H as a member. I applied and received an offer for a position in Sibley County. I had no idea what a great experience this internship was going to be. I quickly accepted and began my summer of learning.
Upon arriving to the Sibley County Extension office, I was given a giant binder created by the previous year’s intern. I thought to myself, “How am I ever going to measure up to this person?” After reading through the binder, I was more nervous than when I had first arrived. I had so many tasks to complete in one summer, and was afraid that I was being given the impossible. I spoke briefly with my supervisor about my different tasks, and then got down to work. I was determined to make a positive impact on the members of Sibley County 4-H!
My first major task was the organization and creation of individual sign-ups for the 4-H Food Stand work shifts. I created an online organizational process through the free website Sign Up Genius. Once that was rolling, I focused on creating fun and educational day camps for the youth of Sibley County. At first, this task felt too big for one person. Since I knew I needed help, I reached out to my Ambassadors, and I learned quickly which ones I could count on to come to my rescue.
The more time I spent at the office, the more confident I became in my abilities to complete the tasks. I created professional friendships with many members in the 4-H program, and I knew that I was able to turn to them whenever I was in need of volunteer work. I became close with my other co-workers because there were only three of us in the office. This was a great feeling because I knew that I could go to them with my challenges. I was supported and backed whenever I had a new idea, and I was given the freedom to design my own plans. Throughout the summer, I was given further responsibility each time I came to work. Soon, I felt like I was the Program Coordinator’s right hand man. I worked hard to complete tasks before the deadline to create room for perfecting.
My biggest challenge during the internship was organizing the Clothing Achievement Day. Because I had no experience related to this topic or event, I reached out to several clothing members for ideas for decorations. I also spoke with my supervisor as she was involved in clothing when she was a 4-H member. I worked hard to create the best Clothing Achievement Day I could, and with each new task, I planned each detail (down to the correct number of pens and pencils!). I wanted to ensure that no mistakes happened while I was in charge. I volunteered any extra time I had to help my co-workers with their tasks, and I became a person that they could rely on to go above and beyond.
When the County Fair rolled around, I worked early mornings to late evenings ensuring shows were run smoothly, State Fair trips were given away to the correct exhibitors, and the food stand shifts were completed by each member.
Even though my experience was short, I felt like I have given my heart and soul to Sibley County 4-H this summer. I had several families from Sibley County begging me to come back next year, and several of the younger members knew me by name and told me they would miss me. On August 17, I collected my stuff from my desk and walked out the doors knowing that I had left a positive impact on those involved with Sibley County 4-H. And they left a positive impact on me!
Pictured here: On the second day of the fair, I worked the Rabbit Show by scanning placings, organizing ribbons and working on state fair line-up.