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Real-world Experience via Internship      

Ike Val Iyioke
Dept. of Animal Science

Jillian Holdwick

Jillian Holdwick, class of 2011, responds to
internship Q & A.

Where did you intern? 
I interned with Land O’Lakes Purina Feeds in Lubbock, Texas.

What was your prior experience?
I had no previous experience with Land O’Lakes, all of my experience in the dairy industry came from feeding calves during grade school, FFA and 4-H. During my time at Michigan State I got involved in the dairy science program by becoming a teaching assistant for Dr. Miriam Weber-Nielson and also participating in the Dairy Challenge Contest. Also, I was on the MSU National Dairy Challenge Team in 2011.

What were your responsibilities as an intern?
I was responsible for data collection for various calf and heifer trials that were being conducted on prospect farms. We were comparing different calf starter programs, accelerated milk programs as well as weaning success for both. We quantified the program success by obtaining growth measurements (hip and wither height and girth measurement). I managed three large trials for the farm’s calf and heifer specialist.

In what ways was the farm you interned at similar or different from farms you are accustomed to?
I interned in Texas, so as you can imagine, dairy farms in that area of the world look much different than the ones I am used to here in Michigan.  That being said, the calf operations looks very similar, just on a larger scale. Most of the farms I worked with were larger farms and had hundreds of calves on milk at once. 

What did you learn from your internship?
I went into this internship with limited professional/industry experience. Throughout my internship I learned what a job with a feed company would look like. I also learned what I liked and didn’t like about a job of that nature. My internship was focused on calves and heifers, so I learned a lot about industry benchmarks and expectations of calf programs, which has proven to be very helpful in my current job.

What were your expectations before the internship? How did they differ from your experience there?
My expectations were pretty low, mostly because I didn’t know what to expect. I was moving across the country, I hadn’t met any of the people I would be working for or living with -- it was a huge leap of faith. I knew I would learn a lot about the Land O’Lakes line of calf products as well as what a successful program looks like. My experience really didn’t differ too much from what I expected, because I didn’t really know what to expect. I really enjoyed spending time with and learning from the calf and heifer specialist from that area. She was and continues to be a wonderful resource for me. She helped me to realize that everything in the real world doesn’t pan out perfectly but she also helped me learn to think critically about what causes blips in a trial. 

What general advice would you give to future interns?
An internship is the single best way to get real-world experience. Many students do not know what they want to do with their lives. What I found with my experience was that an internship can be just as helpful in finding what you don’t want to do as it is in finding what you do like to do. 

What specific aspects of the internship would you recommend to would-be interns?
Find an internship with a company that is progressive in your chosen industry. If you are working with a company that is continually bettering itself and its customer base, you will surely have an experience filled with personal growth. Also, if you have the chance to move away from home for the summer, do it.  Moving to Texas was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I have a network that spans far further than it would have if I had limited myself to internships in Michigan alone.

What are you doing now?
I work for Cargill as a Dairy Focus Consultant.

Michigan Dairy Review is published and mailed to all Michigan dairy farmers and individuals working in allied industries. With its ever increasing on-line presence, the MDR target audience has spread beyond Michigan and the U.S.; today electronic subscribers are located in places such as Australia, The Scandinavia, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, Peru, and New Zealand.  

The MDR is the primary communications vehicle for research findings, extension programming, and teaching between faculty and staff in MSU dairy programs and the dairy industry. The MDR web site is paid for by the C. E. Meadows Endowment.

April 2012 Topics

Grassland Renovation

Right-to-Farm: Site Selection [2]

Manure Setbacks

Weather Provides Opportunity

Cleaning Overwinter Sites

MSU Extension Educational Sessions

Dairy Farmers' Views of Dairy Policies

When is a Milk Price a "Good" Milk Price?

2012 Employment Taxes

Detecting Mycoplasma Mastitis

Communication with Consumers

New Scholaships for Dairy Students

Dairy Students Awarded Over $95,000

Real-world Experience Via Internship