By: Brandon Zuidema, Agricultural Communication & Marketing Major
My internship experience was filled with wonderful learning opportunities, many new relationships, and resounding confirmation of what I want to do once I graduate. I interned with DuPont Pioneer last summer covering southeastern Minnesota and a small portion of northern Minnesota. My role was agronomy and sales, and I was matched with a mentor within the team to be sort of a go to with any questions I had, or if I needed a project or something to do during the week. The internship is very well organized and has a great structure. They start with an orientation at their headquarters for all interns and then also had a more localized one for the Minnesota/Wisconsin team. After those two orientations you are very well set up to succeed and know what is on your plate for the summer. My time was spent doing a long list of things, and no day was the same. There were a few main goals or projects that they had in place for me and the other interns in the area but beyond that we were able to fill our days with things that interested us. Pioneer’s main goal of their internship program is to allow the intern to decide what they want to focus on learning throughout the summer and they work with you to make sure that happens.
Because I was able to have some decision making opportunities throughout the internship, I was able to learn a lot in a short period of time. At the beginning of the internship I sat down with my mentor and we created a list of the goals that I was looking to accomplish as a part of the Pioneer team. I am glad to say I accomplished all those goals and more. One learning opportunity was to take the little agronomy knowledge I had and deepen it. Within the first week I had a few “aha” moments when some term or concept was brought up and I was able to relate it to something I learned in a class I had taken. These moments made me happy knowing the knowledge I have gained over the years was being put to use and even expanded. Another learning point for me was when I was out doing customer work with growers. One of our main projects was to go speak with lost customers and find out why they no longer planted Pioneer seed. At first I was excited about cold calling and working with farmers, but I quickly hit a bump in the road. My excitement quickly faded after the first three calls when I was either told a quick no or the customer yelled at me. I remember having to take a step back and look at the process I was taking. I talked with the employee who was leading the project and she told me to forget those calls and keep doing the great work I was doing. Soon enough I had four meetings set up and my excitement in the project was high again. This project was my first real world experience with sales in agriculture and hearing no over and over. I let in faze me at first but a little pep talk and reflection and I was back on my A game. A final learning opportunity was listening to so many individuals who are around agricultural sales and gathering as much wisdom as possible. I am so glad I met many amazing Pioneer employees who wanted to get to know me, share their story and how they got to where they are, and help me with my future goals.
One key highlight was all the people I got to meet and the relationships that I made. Because I covered a large area there was a large group of people that I was able to be around for my summer. I was around Pioneer sales reps, agronomist, area managers, district managers, and so many other vital employees. This was one goal for my summer, and I am so glad I was able to see so many different sides of the business. Another highlight was meeting other great interns from around the country. I still keep in touch with many of them today and loved hearing how their internship experience was going throughout the summer. Also throughout the summer I was able to visit places that play various roles within Pioneer. I went to a research site as well as a production plant. These are things that we interns wanted to do and because of the freedom Pioneer gives us we were able to. We got tours through the whole facility and were able to take as much time as we wanted to ask questions and see how the processes worked. A final experience I want to share is being able to grow not only in my agricultural skills but also personally and as a leader. There were many opportunities to reflect on my experience and talk with individuals who could share what they thought I excelled at and also what I could work on. Everyone I interacted with truly cared about my success in the future even if it wasn’t with Pioneer. I am so grateful for my summer experience with Pioneer and would highly recommend it!